Don Moses Comedy & Magic Blog - A light hearted look at life, comedy and magic.

Saturday, December 6th, 2008 at 3:34 pm

A Touch of Class (part 2)

I remember an expression / joke from years ago:
 ”Democracy is too good to share with just anybody.”
Obviously, the person who came up with this quotation was making a joke, and hopefully not manifesting his right wing tendencies.  But as they say, it is funny because it is true.  I find the quote amusing, and I like to think of myself as left wing-ish, but some days I do wonder about people.

Yesterday, I saw a “Best Mum in the world” sign in a car (makes a change from “Baby on board”).  I was at traffic lights, so being nosey I decided to check out whether the hubris of the sign was justified.  Today was also the day of truth on the Karen Matthews case highlighting the very worst of parenting, so I was probably more interested than I would usually have been.

I saw two ladies in the front seats and two children in the back seats.  Both ladies were smoking and the windows were up.  If it was a TV comedy programme, it would have been the start of an ironic sketch.  Then it occurred to me, some people just don’t get “it”.

To most people, programme like the “Royale Family” and “Two pints of lager and a packet of crisps” are funny because… wait for it…… they are comedies and NOT documentaries.  Could it be that some people can’t make the distinction?  Wasn’t the Shannon Matthews kidnapping inspired by a plot on the comedy (there is your clue) programme “Shameless” (another clue in the title there).  And everyone knows it is cruel to hit your kids, which is why Biffa Bacon’s Mum and Dad beating the crap out of Biffa, in the comic Viz, is funny because you would never do that to your children – got it yet?

I have dipped into programmes like the “Royale Family”, “Two pints of lager and a packet of crisps” and “Shameless” but I have never watched a whole episode.  I am sure they are funny, but to me, they seem very pessimistic and not very subtle.  The script seems crude for effect (to prove, no doubt, that it is an edgy comedy – God I hate that).  The gags are always sledge-hammered home, just in case you didn’t get the first hint of the telegraphed joke coming along.

You could argue, and I would agree, that it is true to life – but I ask you, do we really want that?

Contrast these programmes with “Friends”, “Seinfeld” and “Scrubs” where the comedy writing is subtle, and above all, there is always hope and aspiration.  Good human traits show up nearly every week as the actors in these shows give in to their better selves.  Yes, they are flawed characters, but that just makes us identify with them, because like all of us, we try to do are best, but sometimes we do mess up.
By the way, the “best mum in the world” did eventually wind down her window.  And at that point, I felt ashamed; I thought I really shouldn’t be this judgemental.  Who am I to suggest that some people are watching the wrong TV shows?  Am I really saying people are not savvy enough to know that something in a comedy programme is funny, but to copy it in real life is certainly not funny, as the irony is replaced with cruelty?

As I was thinking this, and I swear this is true; “best mum in the world” spat out of the window and put the window back up.

Like I said, I really like the “democracy not for everyone” quote.

For an example of subtle comedy writing watch this clip from the early 1990’s

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Don performs as a wedding magician, corporate entertainer, and after dinner speaker at events throughout the country. London Magician, Manchester Magician, Liverpool Magician, Birmingham Magician, Newcastle Upon Tyne Magician, Magician Surrey, Edinburgh Magician, Oxford Magician, Bristol Magician, Magician Milton Keynes, Leicester Magician, Leeds Magician, Magician Kent.