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Laurence Inman's Blog



Some philosophising about comedy from our own master of the deadpan Laurence Inman. And a hearty recommendation too.

I remember reading about a conversation between George Melly and Mick Jagger.

‘Blimey, Mick, you’re getting more wrinkly by the day.’

‘They’re laughter lines.’

‘Mick, nothing’s that funny.’

Sadly, this is true.

Nothing is ever that funny. You can never recapture the sheer joy of being nine years old and hearing Big Dennis Turner, who was sitting behind you in Miss Jarvis’s class, let rip this great flapping fart, and trying to hold your laughter in, it was hopeless, you blasted snot everywhere....

I’ve forgotten all about the four hundred lashes with the knotted scourge and the two weeks in the pillory in the village green, but that laugh will live with me forever.

There will never be laughter like it again. But that’s true of everything, isn’t it ? I will never feel as betrayed as I felt on August 20th 1969. Never feel as bathed in satisfied bliss as I was just after a particular gig I did in Nottingham in 2002. For most of our lives we’re coasting, more or less happily, between moments like those, the ‘spots of time’ which Wordsworth talked about in The Prelude. The rest, for the most part, are, according to Thomas Hardy, ‘just neutral-tinted haps and such.’

For comedians this is an irksome thought.

You look forward to the great rolling swells of belters on which you can effortlessly surf for the whole of your set.

But in reality most laughs come from a sense of duty: I’ve paid my money, we’re here after all the effort of getting ready and finding a baby-sitter, everybody else is laughing, so I’d better as well, otherwise what’s the point ?

I’ve done three gigs with Reginald D. Hunter, and shared a taxi with him afterwards. He is a philosopher-king of stand-up. ‘I don’t mind too much if they’re not laughing,’ he once told me, ‘as long as they’re still listening.’

‘This business is like Life. Just be yourself. That’s enough, or it’s not, you’ll know. These guys you want to be like, they’re none of them as funny as they think they are.’

Or, I could have added, as I think they are.

But now and again I see an act which rates 70% on the Dennis Turner Fart Scale. (It can’t get much better.)

A couple of weeks ago at the Kitchen Garden Cafe I went to see Rebecca Hollweg again. She is a brilliant singer/songwriter. The last time she was on, I was the compere.

This time it was a guy called Kev F, who I’ve never seen before.

In the second half he becomes the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre.

At one point during this (the Michael Jackson singalong) I was almost screaming with laughter. It was the most inventive, witty, professional and downright daft half-hour I’ve lived through in the last decade at least.

He’ll be on again at the next Retort Cabaret – October 4th.

The Retort Cabaret is at The Kitchen Organic Cafe, York Road, Kings Heath B14



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