Radical?! That’s me, especially when it comes to humour…
My sense of humour is not gentle or subtle. It is bawdy, ribald, earthy, savage and scathing. Those who know me in the flesh will be aware that my laugh is akin, in timbre and volume, to Bertie Wooster’s Aunt Dahlia chivvying the fox o’er dale and spinney in her Quorn and Pytchley days!
Vulgar, rude, suggestive and black, near the edge and Politically Incorrect, the Alienora humour divides those reading/listening sharply. Some don’t get it at all, and just think I am nasty, brutish and short (which I will not dispute, nature having not favoured me with five foot ten inches of lissom loveliness!); while others roar, guffaw, ROFL and run back for more of the same!
I am well aware, for I am neither stupid nor insensitive, that my sense of what is funny often bounds to the very edge – and, for that reason, I think I would have made a damn good Stand-Up Comedian. Thirty years of entertaining adolescents in the finer points of Shakespearean language (about which they, corporately and understandably, gave not a toss!) and the minutiae of the possessive apostrophe certainly helped: If you can deliver punctuation in a way that makes 11z laugh and learn, you’re onto a winner, says I, and probably ought to be on the stage/working the club circuit.
I parodied myself, if you like, when I was a teacher: Became a kind of very rude Miss Jean Brodie on Amphetamines (natural energy, you understand, not the drugs themselves) – and many a lesson would end with the little darlings in fits of laughter, particularly when I created an imaginary horse, Hengist, who lived in my book cupboard and the more tedious parts of the curriculum would be broken up by a sudden neigh and me diving in to stroke said invisible equine (or tell the blighter to cease and desist). So real did he become to my pupils that many would go in there to stroke Hengist if they were feeling fragile!
They all thought it hilarious. My colleagues probably thought I was mad!
My razor-wit and speedy comeback did get me into trouble on occasions. Some parents did not get the joke; some colleagues, watching me in action,thought I had wandered beyond the bounds of good taste and too close to the barbed wire of offence.
My willingness to call a spade a spade certainly didn’t help my more timid cohorts to feel comfortable when teaching in an adjacent room – and, because on a good day, I could be heard in the Headmaster’s study with ease (and probably in Bristol at a pinch), windows tended to be closed, in a fusillade of offended slams, when I got into my comic stride.
The kids I taught knew I was joking.
I was exactly the same in the staff room, and often spent break and lunch times reading out improving literature courtesy of Viz’s ‘Profanosaurus’ – ‘Wizard’s Sleeve’ being an especial favourite, as I recall.
Wit helped me to make serious points in a light-hearted way. It helped me to disseminate the parts of English no right-minded teenager enjoys in a lively way – and it broke up the tedium of school life for me and the kids.
I am the same on here! You may have noticed! I take no prisoners, and nor should I. This world needs more humour, not less – and the more outrageous stand-ups, such as Richard Herring, cause rib-aching, tear-jerking laughter precisely because they are prepared to go as far as they can down the road of life’s funny moments and because they challenge our inhibitions and po-faced disapproval to the utmost!
The afore-mentioned Richard Herring, whom I have seen performing in Bristol several times, had a show called ‘Talking Cock’ which was, and still is, side-splittingly funny. Chap after my own heart on the humour front, I have to say – and also a really nice guy.
Why not laugh at cocks or commas, the Bible or bestiality, animals or adjectives? I am quite sure that some people reading this could give me many reasons why not!
But I do not think it is humour, wit, laughter which causes wars and murders in our world – and, very often, laughing at something exposes the ridiculous stance taken by too many about the item in question.
Of course we cannot laugh at everything, nor should we – but the world of stand up comedy is hugely valuable in releasing pressure through belly-laughs and in allowing us to look at the more hide-bound and stupid of our own prejudices and beliefs.
Yes, I often go close to the wire on here – but, to be fair, I always warn readers, through the tag/category system, when the scathe is mixed with humour! This prevents too many getting on their high horse, reducing such a tendency to a small vault onto a Shetland pony!
Yes, I reckon I have missed my calling!
You can just see it, can’t you?
Alienora Browning’s new show: ‘Bashing the Bishop for Beginners…’