When was the last time that you couldn’t stop yourself from laughing out loud as you were reading a book?
Come on, never! I can’t believe it.
Where would we be without side-splitting humour? Stating the obvious, in a sad, sad space.
It’s refreshing to ‘poke fun’ at ourselves, to take the seriousness out of our focus for a time and devour big slabs of rich, sweet, gooey literary laughter.
So where do we start?
Here’s a 21st century issue. Self-diagnosis. We’ve only thought of doing this, right, because of all the information available at our finger-tips through the www.
Who of you haven’t ‘Googled’ symptoms that you are looking to fit a disease to?
Is this new? No.
How about this as an insight to our humanness:
There were four of us — George, and William Samuel Harris, and myself, and Montmorency. We were sitting in my room, smoking, and talking about how bad we were — bad from a medical point of view I mean, of course.
We were all feeling seedy, and we were getting quite nervous about it. Harris said he felt such extraordinary fits of giddiness come over him at times, that he hardly knew what he was doing; and then George said that he had fits of giddiness too, and hardly knew what he was doing. With me, it was my liver that was out of order. I knew it was my liver that was out of order, because I had just been reading a patent liver-pill circular, in which were detailed various symptoms by which a man could tell when his liver was out of order. I had them all.
LOL material from Jerome K Jerome in Three Men in a Boat (1889).
Ha, ha, we’re not alone are we!
Then there’s the ‘cheek-popping’ anecdotes about creating stew out of the left-overs and Montmorency’s (the dog) contribution of the rat and also the spectacle of these three men trying to open a tin of pineapple where:
Harris got off merely with a flesh wound…We beat it out flat; we beat it back square; we battered it into every form known to geometry — but we could not make a hole in it.
Although written originally as a serious travelogue, the comic anecdotal segments of this text have placed it squarely in the comedic genre.
Another hilarious text of this era is The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (1894).
There are LOL bits right from the beginning:
ALGERNON: Did you hear what I was playing, Lane:
LANE: I didn’t think it polite to listen, sir.
ALGERNON: I’m sorry for that, for your sake. I don’t play accurately–any one can play accurately — but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life.
ALGERNON: I really don’t see anything romantic in proposing. It is very romantic to be in love. But there is nothing romantic about a definite proposal. Why, one may be accepted. One usually is, I...
Witty dialogue in this text flows freely, leading to many LOL moments.
Humour and satire of manners is not confined to literature of the 19th Century. One of my LOL experiences was with Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday (2007).
This book was added to my reading catalogue through my first book group.
The premise itself is droll enough when Torday has English Fisheries Scientist Dr Alfred Jones asked to help create a salmon river in the highlands of the Republic of Yemen (considered to be one of the poorest Arab nations). Jones is understandably reluctant and skeptical, but in true ‘Yes, Minister’ style he is persuaded to figure out how to fly ten thousand salmon to a desert country — and persuade them to swim there.
Enjoy this scene with me. It is the detail of an interrogating interview related to the attempted assassination of the Sheik who is wanting to create the salmon farm in his home country of Yemen. The incident takes place on the banks of a river in Scotland where the Sheik has come to love his fishing and where his fishing guru, Colin has just ‘hooked’ the would-be assassin:
I heard Colin say, ‘Aye, I seen him come up the glen on the other bank, but I had just had a tug on my line from a fish, so I didn’t take much notice for a wee minute. Then I knew he was wrong. His kilt was a Campbell tartan. There’s nae Campbells in this glen. They were all chased away many hundreds of years since. So I left my fish for another day and came and cast my hook at the wee man, instead.’ Then he laughed and said, ‘He didn’t put up as much of a fight as the fish would have. I had him on the grass in three minutes.’
He, he, he — Yes, Minister meets Monarch of the Glen.
I found unexpected pleasure in reading this quirky satire that explores the elements of hypocrisy and bureaucracy, dreams and deniability, and the transforming power of faith and love.
Humour is infectious. Laughter binds people together and increases happiness and also triggers healthy physical changes in the body. Humour and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress.
So, here’s my suggestion, rather than ‘Googling’ your symptoms to find which disease you have, read a funny book and LOL.