Tuesday, 15 March 2011

What do you call someone subjected to bad jokes at inappropriate moments? Shermaine...

According to Shakespeare, all the world’s a stage, and the men and women merely players. It’s a fantastic line that I completely agree with. But where does it say that it’s a stage in a comedy club?

I love comedy and, contrary to having achieved Grumpy status years ago, it is quite easy to make me laugh. Whether it be a sit com or a stand-up comic, I’m usually game and can often be found cackling at the most childish of slapstick scenes. It’s my guilty pleasure. There are people who barely have to do anything to make me laugh—tears streaming, belly cramping guffaws—but it is always in the right context.

What I hate more than people who think they’re funny, are those that attempt to pedal their particular brand of humour when the occasion doesn’t call for it. I wonder whether the explosion of social networking and general electronic communication (grrr, text speak) has hindered people’s ability to read emotions and act accordingly.

For some people, corny is all they have and that is not a problem. It is, after all, a niche. I don’t mind the odd Christmas cracker or lollipop stick joke that makes you groan. What do you call a penguin in the desert? Lost See? Corny yet still funny. But not when the circumstances doesnlt call for jokes. Changing the subject is often enough to lighten a serious situation when it is necessary, but jokes? No. Especially when they’re not even funny and delivered by people who actually believe that they are funny.

I had the need to visit the American Embassy recently (tax issues—paying tax in the UK alone isn’t enough for me). Anyway, simply getting into the building is a rigmarole that resembles what is necessary to get onto a plane. The security level is understandable, to a certain extent, given the attitude that many have to the US. What isn’t understandable is how people can simultaneously treat you like a criminal and have a laugh.

Electronic equipment is banned from the building and is retained in a little shack at the entrance. My question of one of the incompetent security staff as she took my MP3 player, which I thought was a reasonable one: ‘Am I going to get a receipt for that?’ Imagine how impressed I was to get the reply: ‘No, it’s going on eBay.’ Oh, my sides, my sides!

Driving licence and passport presented, sans bag, sans belt, sans dignity—not the time for laughter. I would’ve thought that was a given.

Similarly annoying are those people—usually (im)perfect strangers—that insist on telling people to ‘Smile, it might never happen!’ What if it has already happened? Who’s to say that that person isn’t dealing with serious problems? What if they woke up on the wrong side? What if grumpy is just their default mood?

There are a great many comedians in the world, many of whom do a fantastic job of keeping us all amused. A tip for nothing: leave it to the professionals, keep your wisecracks to yourself and mind your business.

If you want to impose emotions on people, put some work in. Wanna see me smile? Tell me a joke. Simply tell me to smile, you’ll illicit another emotion from me—anger. Read more by Shermaine.