I've been thinking a lot about humour lately. Now, I know what you are thinking - so you should be, it's about time you injected some into your bloody site - but my current musings have been focused on the nature of humour, and how what we perceive as being funny changes over time. I was sent on this mental journey after spending some time on the relaunched Some of the Corpses are Amusing
(SOTCAA) site, where they discuss and dissect various aspects of contemporary British TV and radio comedy. As with all such things, the articles occasionally teeter on the edge of vanishing up their own arses as they over-analyse some comedy, but,on the whole, it's a worthwhile read. Particularly impressive is the site's willingness to to beg to differ with much of the received wisdom about various comedy 'classics'. Once again, I wouldn't always agree with their opinions, but it is
refreshing to find somewhere that isn't content to simply regurgitate all the usual gushing fan-boy adulation which all too often passes for reviews when it comes to well-known comedians and TV series.
All of which, eventually, brings me to my point - the way our perceptions of comedy change. SOTCAA seems to have a bit of a downer on I'm Alan Partridge
, challenging the widely accepted view that this series represented a high-water mark in the development of the British sitcom. What I found interesting was that when the series was first shown, I pretty much shared their reservations about it (if you want to know what these are in detail, go visit the SOTCAA site), but over the years I've mellowed toward it, and when I recently caught some repeats, actually laughed at it. Part of the SOTCAA reviewers view on Alan Partridge
seem to be influenced by the fact that they also have a bit of a downer on Armando Iannucci who produced it, and all his works. Interestingly, Iannucci is another subject where, over the years, I've done a comedy U-turn. There was a time when I didn't find him, or anything he was involved with remotely amusing. Whilst I still think his Friday Night Armistice
is irredeemable shit, I've found some of his more recent efforts pretty good. Most notably, The Thick of It
and its film spin-off In The Loop
. Mind you, as I've mentioned before, it did take me quite a while to warm to The Thick of It
, which seems to be the case with much new-fangled TV comedy - it took me a long time to get into the Mighty Boosh
(another of SOTCAA's pet hates), for instance, and it was series four (or maybe five, I'm not sure) before I understood Peep Show
. The same thing goes for comedians - I used to think David Baddiel a complete knob, but in recent years have come to like him, for example.
Whilst I've learned to love (or at least tolerate) some comedy series and comedians, others I used to like have fallen from grace. Now, whilst many of these are things I laughed at when I was eight years old - On The Buses
, Ken Dodd and his Diddy Men or Are You Being Served?
- others are of more recent vintage: for some reason I now find Sean Lock extremely irritating and it is getting to the stage where I'd cross the street to avoid Have I Got News For You
. So clearly,it isn't simply a case of developing a more 'sophisticated' taste in humour as I row older. Indeed, I recently saw a 1972 vintage episode of Doctor in Charge
I hadn't seen since I was a child, and it still
made me laugh. Perhaps by focusing on something or someone I feel I'm in imminent danger of disliking, we might gain some insight into what the underlying cause of these apparent shifts in comedic taste. Charlie Brooker, the writer and broadcaster - for a long time I've enjoyed his acerbic columns and his take on TV in programmes like Screen Wipe
. But just lately, I've begun to find him less
amusing, and slightly irritating. In large part, I'm sure, this is due to his recent relative over-exposure on TV - he seems to be bloody everywhere (actually, it's only Channel Four and BBC4, but that's more than enough). But more than that, I find that the discovery of who some of his other
fans are that is putting me off of Brooker. Basically, he's been drawing praise from the kind of pseudo-intellectual middle-class media-wannabe knob heads who lurk in various political and tech blogs and forums, that I detest. I find the idea that I might have anything with these dicks highly distressing. If that's his fan base, I want no part of it. Unfair? Perhaps, but it is often the way that we often end up disowning something or someone we 'discovered' when they were just a 'cult', the moment they seem to be becoming 'mainstream'. So, sadly, maybe I'm just as shallow as all those other tossers out there who like to feel special and clever because they are part of some privileged 'underground movement'! How disappointing!
Labels: Musings From the Mind of Doc Sleaze