It’s not funny...

John Cleese filming in Norwich for Monty Python in November 1971. It was something completely differ

John Cleese filming in Norwich for Monty Python in November 1971. It was something completely different. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY - Credit: Archant

Lynne examines her lack of a sense of humour

It has been brought to my attention that I do not have much of a sense of humour and yet, for nearly 60 years, I have been labouring under the mistaken impression I am a very jolly person who laughs readily.

I discovered it by accident. We were planning a comedy theme for the week in newspaper features and someone asked what makes me laugh.

I pondered. And then the realisation hit me, I am lacking a ready sense of humour. I never found Monty Python or Fawlty Towers funny. Thus, clearly, there is something wrong with me.

My husband and his school chums (it was an all boys’ establishment then) would swiftly memorise Monty Python sketches when they were shown on the television (no pause, no rewind, no i-player) and recreate them during the lunch break, laughing all over again. If only I had a quid for every time someone surveyed my three-piece-suite and exclaimed: “No, not the comfy chair!”... For goodness sake.

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As for Fawlty Towers, I think there are people who know every line of each of the 12 episodes. For me, this comedy had a 98% squirm rating, two per cent less than for Some Mothers Do ‘ave ‘em. I simply cannot bear it when things go horribly wrong as they invariably did when Basil Fawlty lied, setting in train a spiral of mendacity that led him into the very depths of Dante’s nine circles of hell. Or when Frank Spencer applied for a job and turned out to be totally incompetent, usually destroying premises and lives in the process.

In my inability to see the funny side, I am, I suppose a bit of a Margo Leadbetter (The Good Life) she never got the joke... except on one occasion. I am still waiting for my one occasion.

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It’s not that we are not amused. We are. I have been to see many comedians perform ? Jimmy Carr, Greg Davies, The Fast Show team, Armstrong and Miller, Russell Howard, Rhod Gilbert and a host of others. They were mostly very good (as a practising prude, I am sometimes taken aback by the difference between TV material and stand-up tour material) but I don’t think any of them made me laugh out loud. ZLOL (Zilch Laugh Out Loud) or should that be LI (Laughing Inside) or perhaps ITF (Is This Funny?).

And so, when asked what makes me laugh, I wasn’t able to think of a single thing.

Some years back, I had a book of newspaper misprints that had been published in a well-known satirical magazine and there was one picture of a royal personage on a state visit abroad, being greeted by the Prime Minister who, said the caption, was “wearing the customary carnation in his bumhole.” That made me LOL but it is a rare one, and a little bit naughty (should have been “buttonhole”, of course).

I think it is fleeting moments of unrehearsed comedy that make me laugh, such as my oldest grandson taking off all his clothes and exclaiming: “I’m naked!” It would not be as funny if I did that. Such as when my middle grandson knocks over a drink and announces: “It wasn’t me,” although we all watched him do it.

Maybe I am an internaliser. I have never been able to make a noise at pop/rock concerts either. When I was 13, I went to see Marmalade (hit with Ob-la-di Ob-la-da) and the girls who made up most of the audience screamed, making the music inaudible. After that, I never went to a pop concert again. Classical concerts are much more refined – you’re not even supposed to applaud between movements.

About 20 years ago, my editor (Was it me, Lynne? ED) – not the current editor (Phew. ED) ? dispatched me to see a shiny male dance ensemble called The Dreamboys. They they were shiny because they oiled their skin. They were patently male because, after they took off their clothes, they wore naught but tight briefs, and they were a dance group because they had a few synchronised moves. Here again, the audience, entirely women except for the follow-spot operator and the unfortunate St John Ambulance officer, screamed and yelled.

I slipped down in my seat and winced. I couldn’t even face a vanilla tub in the interval.

I have been feeling extremely East Anglian lately.

I think it’s because of the weather. Over here in the east, it is as if we are have our own weather system and you can even follow it up and down the region on Facebook. People were posting pictures of their hailstones as big as walnuts in Norfolk and north Suffolk while further south there was a wall of water between indoors and outdoors.

It reminded me again of calls I have made in the past for an independent East Anglia - we would need a frictionless border, obviously.

In the State of East Anglia, we would specialise in the primary and tertiary economic sectors (I knew the economics degree would come in useful one day). On the one hand, agriculture and on the other, tourism and a sense of humour... oops, for humour, read irony.

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