Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Ol' Lols

I had a conversation this week about which writers could still make you laugh out loud from a distance of over a hundred years. A huge number of funny authors pre-1910, of course, but how many can actually make you physically laugh -even just a chuckle- as you read? (For fairness, I think it has to be from the page, not when read out or in performance.) We immediately came up with very early Wodehouse; Jerome K Jerome; Mark Twain and the Grossmith brothers (the authors of The Diary of a Nobody, which I've always thought would make an excellent musical). Since then, I've remembered Saki and Stephen Leacock. One of us nominated Dickens, which may be true for him, but, though I like Dickens and find him funny, I'm not sure I've ever actually laughed out loud whilst reading him. Nor at Shakespeare, nor Swift. At Wilde, outside performance? Not sure, but I think maybe not. Thurber, Parker, Waugh and Lardner are all too young. Who else? There must be more. Who've I forgotten?

P.S. Since I started writing this post, I accidentally came across another one - a writer whom, had someone else proposed them, I'm afraid I'd have put in the huge 'funny-but-not-laugh-out-loud-funny' bracket: Lewis Carroll.  I was reading a book of his letters, and this, written to a child in 1871, definitely made me (appropriately) chortle.

'You know I have three dinner-bells - the first (which is the largest) is rung when dinner is nearly ready; the second (which is rather larger) is rung when it is quite ready; and the third (which is as large as the other two put together) is rung all the time I am at dinner.'

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Next Week: What Happened in Kathmandu?

I turned on the radio today to hear this:

ANNOUNCER: 'What Happened in Copenhagen?'
GIGGLY AMERICAN WOMAN: Oh, I don't know what happened in Copenhagen!
ANNOUNCER: And now, the Archers.

I really hope this wasn't just the end of a trailer, but an entire programme.

While I'm here, some plugs: I guested in Miranda on BBC2 this week, as a tremendously punchable man named Chris, with the tremendous Margaret Cabourn-Smith as my less punchable, though no less irritating, wife. (Though having said that, she did, throughout rehearsals, enthusiastically punch herself in the prosthetic stomach.) It should be around on iPlayer for the next week.

And there are still some, though I believe not all that many, tickets left for the musical I have co-written, The Diary of a Nobody. It's from the 2nd to the 5th December, and tickets are available here www.drillhall.co.uk/pl389. I have bought myself a large ginger beard to wear in it. That, surely, is worth the entry fee alone?

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Pushing back the frontiers of human knowledge, and lady's blouses.

I am aware that I can hardly post what I'm about to post without inviting questions about how I found it. Well, my explanation, which you can choose to believe or not as you wish, is that I used the word 'decolletage' in something I'm writing, then realised I only vaguely knew what it meant; and so looked it up on Wikipedia, which redirected me here:

That's my story, at any rate, and I'm sticking to it. The page is a lot of fun on its own account, because Wikipedia is at its funniest when attempting to be po-faced about something it finds really, really exciting; but even better is the discussion page, in which various learned academics debate on how to improve the page. My favourite contribution is from this concerned scholar:

I am unable to find the terms used in this article to distinguish the various ways of exposing parts of the breasts ("cleavage décolleté," "cleavage centros," "cleavage côté," "cleavage underside," "cleavage cleavy") anywhere else on the Web except Wikipedia mirrors and bikini science. [...] I hope someone can cite authentic sources for these terms, or at least provide numerous photographs illustrating them from all angles.

I've no doubt you do, sir. No doubt at all. 

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The Diary of a Nobody

Sorry it's gone a bit quiet here, though those of you who like Cabin Pressure will be happy to know that's because I'm working really hard on it. Normal service will be resumed next week, but in the meantime, have I mentioned that I have co-written (with the musical genius Susannah Pearse), and will be performing in a musical based on the brilliant comic novel The Diary of a Nobody? No I haven't, is the answer to that; but I have now. It's on from the 2nd to the 5th of December at the Drill Hall in central London, and let me immediately reassure you that I barely sing at all. But others do, and they're terrific at it. Tickets are available from the Drill Hall.