I have nothing but admiration for people who stand up on a stage and make others laugh.
OK, I don’t always appreciate
certain brands of humour and there aren’t many comedians who can just walk on stage like Tommy Cooper and make me laugh without saying a word. But the sheer gall of it, the bravado, the guts – to walk onto a stage and announce “Hallo, everyone,
listen to me, aren’t I hilarious?” You have to admire them for that, don’t you think?
Tomorrow we have the next meeting of the Humour Group.
You may remember me telling you about our first meeting which was considerably assisted by copious amounts of port brought along by one of our members. Sadly I can’t imagine we will be imbibing anything stronger than tea or coffee tomorrow so we shall
have to rely on our reserves of what Ken Dodd would undoubtedly call “tickledness” to see us through.
Ah, Ken Dodd! We have been to see him on more
than one occasion, most recently in Worthing our home town where he simply refused to leave the stage until the early hours of the morning. The audience (us included) was alternately rolled up in hysterical laughter or pleading with him to unlock the
theatre doors and allow us to go home. It’s a shame we couldn’t bottle him and take him along to the Humour Group meeting tomorrow.
you see, that was the homework we were set at the end of the last meeting. We all had to prepare a little “performance” for tomorrow’s meeting which will (hopefully) make our fellow members laugh.
Mr B felt he might have an advantage in that his email in-box is filled to over-flowing each and every morning with jokes sent him from the four corners of the globe. (Mr B has a lot of friends in
distant places, many of them his on-line poker pals who clearly don’t bear grudges when he out-manoeuvres them at the table.) One of his most prolific correspondents is my brother who appears to spend most evenings redirecting Joke Mail. “I wonder
what time your brother was up to last night?” Mr B says most mornings as he opens up his email box to see how many jokes come tumbling out. Virtually speaking.
The only problem is, once he has discarded all those jokes which need to be seen as well as heard; and those which are just a bit too rich for the Humour Group; and those which, frankly, aren’t quite as funny as the sender obviously thought they
were – well he hasn’t much to choose from. However he has made his choice, a pretty good joke about an elderly couple about to get married. It’s clean, has a good punch-line, isn’t in the least bit sexist and should appeal to
the age-range of Humour Group members none of whom is, to put it sweetly, in the first flush of youth.
Which is all very well for Mr B, but what about me? I suppose
I could go back to “The Old Wrinklies Joke Book” which saved the day at our first meeting. Or, then again, I could pluck an appropriate passage from one of the many books about and / or by comedians which we have been given as presents over
the course of many Christmasses. The trouble is, I shouldn’t have left my homework till the last minute. I can see the Ghost of My Past, lecturing my off-spring on the advisability of Never Leaving Your Homework Till The Night Before You
Hand It in.
Which has suddenly given me a good idea. I’m going to read a children’s poem called “Colonel Fazackerley’s Ghost” by
the rather wonderful Charles Causley. If you don’t know it (I’m rather hoping the members of the Humour Group won’t have heard it before) then it’s about a military man (Colonel Fazackerley Butterworth-Toast – was there ever a
name more dripping with fun?) who buys an old castle without realising that it is haunted. The poem tells the story of how the colonel locks horns with the chain-rattling, bone-clattering spectre over who should win possession of the castle.
I won’t tell you who wins the battle of wills because that would spoil the joke...
Mr B is not at all sure of my choice. After all it is, he points out,
a children’s poem and the Humour Group is accustomed to sterner stuff. I am unrepentant. I shall do my very best by Charles Causley and instil his words with as much macabre mirth as I can muster.
It could all go horribly wrong, of course. I could find myself booed off the stage. But the Humour Group members are a kindly bunch so I like to think I will be safe enough.
And if all else fails, I’ll pass the port...