Mr B and I had a funny turn today. "Funny peculiar, or funny ha-ha?" my dear Mum would have asked, had she been alive.
I think I can safely say, a bit of both
- Mr B and I have joined a "Humour Group". No, please don't laugh, it's not that funny...
We couldn't go to the first meeting, a month ago, so today was by way of our initiation into this newly established
group. We went along to the local Tennis Club, where the meeting was being held, wondering what we were letting ourselves in for. What would we do, we asked each other, if we didn't find it - well - funny? The girl on Reception smirked (oh, yes, she did!)
when we reported our presence, but she did direct us up the stairs to the meeting room. We could hear a lot of chat coming from the room - but no laughter. Presumably everybody needed to get warmed up. Most of us can't laugh to order. We're not all Michael
McIntyre. Or Miranda.
There were about fifteen of us there altogther, mostly women though there was one other fella, Mr B was pleased to note. We all had to introduce ourselves and say a bit about
"our type of humour" and then the chap who wasn't Mr B gave us a presentation on Max Miller, also known as "The Cheeky Chappie". I was pleased to observe (though only to myself, I'm not that anti-social) that I was too young to remember him.
So far, so rather dull. I had to keep kicking Mr B under the table to make sure he stayed awake. Though, of course, if you like The Cheeky Chappie, you would certainly have been wide awake and enjoyed it - to
be honest if, like me, you have a cheeky chappie of your own, you really don't need Max Miller. One member of the group talked with some authority about Max Miller's black tights - until someone else gently suggested that she might have mixed
him up with Max Wall. This was mildly funny.
And then this lovely lady named Phyllis produced a couple of bottles of port and some nibbles to "toast the future of the new group." Oh, well done,
Phyllis, I'm so glad you thought of that. There's nothing like a drop of port to unleash everybody's Inner Comedian.
One member read a Pam Ayres' poem and another treated us to a series of limericks. Mr
B and I had gone armed with one of our Christmas presents - "The Old Wrinklies' Joke Book" - so we were able to make a contribution. I knew it would come in useful one day. I'm just glad we didn't have to wait until we are old and wrinkly...
Someone said Max Miller was a misogynist. Try saying that when you've had a glass or two of Ruby Port. Our friend Rita, from Choir, told us a story about a vicar whose part in Macbeth required him to say
the words "you poor, bloody man" - meaning "man covered in blood". Worried that his parishioners might take great offence if they heard their Man of the Cloth using a swear word, he practised his lines religiously to get the emphasis
right (sorry, that's my poor attempt at a joke, not Rita's) only to find himself, when he finally took to the stage, blurting out: "You poor - bugger!"
The Middle of the Darling Daughters tells
a similar (and true) tale of being in the audience for an open-air performance of "A Midsummer's Night's Dream" where Juliet was discovered "bleeding, warm and dead" - or in the immortal words of the hapless player: "bleeding warm - and dead!" And you're not
supposed to laugh at moments of high tragedy, are you?
Next month we are "studying" Dawn French. I'm looking forward to that. I still cry with laughter when I think of the Vicar of Dibley's scatty
friend, Alice, as a bride with her four bridesmaids dressed as the Teletubbies. Of course, that heart-warming scene might have left you as cold as Max Miller's stand-up routine left me. That's the thing about
humour - we all find different things funny, don't we?
We went home in good humour. I was particularly merry as Mr B had poured most of his port into my glass, on account of the fact that he was
Laugh and the world laughs with you (as someone once said). Or, to put it another way, pass the port, Phyllis...