• Mike and Helen

Have you heard the one about...?

Here is a favourite story of ours:

A man was walking along near a cliff edge and somehow fell over. As he tumbled to certain death his jacket caught on a tree stump and he was suspended there above the jagged rocks below. He gasped a desperate prayer. ‘Help! Is there anybody there? Save me’.

As he was swinging above the jaws of death he was startled by a voice. ‘Yes, I am here. I am God and I will save you. Just let go of the tree stump and I will make you float like a feather to safety below’.

The man thought for a moment and then shouted: ‘Is there anybody else there?’

It’s an ancient story told by a rabbi. The Jews are good at telling stories, especially to help them face difficult experiences. As people often regarded as the enemy, they have had to find a coping mechanism. They are good at a kind of dark humour which has allowed them to cope with oppression in all shapes and sizes in many different places at many different times.

When there’s a lot of mixed emotion going on under the surface unexpected laughter can be a wonderful gift. But sometimes you can’t wait for it to happen, you have to summon it. . There are many video clips currently circulating on social media which are meant to cheer us up. We find some of them amusing. Many are highly deletable! Of course, humour is a very individual matter.

So - after a semi-serious beginning this week, we thought we’d share one or two of the things that have reliably made us laugh out loud over the last couple of months.

Helen’s lockdown laughter favourite is the "singular conducting style" of Dutch baroque specialist Pieter Jan Leusink. It works every time!

Mike likes the ‘oldies’, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, Peter Ustinov and a long-time favourite, Alan Bennett’s ‘In the Pew’

And finally...if all else fails there are those veteran entertainers, Morecambe and Wise who made us laugh before some of our blog readers were born! It’s one of the few times when Mike has tears of laughter rolling down his cheeks! And his favourite is ‘The André Previn One’.....

When you’ve analysed and dissected and taught Shakespeare’s comedies, you don’t necessarily expect them to make you laugh out loud. But Helen laughed a lot when we watched the RSC’s Culture in Quarantine Much Ado About Nothing

You may have noticed that we have now produced almost 500 words without mentioning the C word. We have not used the word ‘pandemic’, ‘unprecedented’ or ‘crisis’. That deserves a round of applause. So please ‘like’ this or ‘share’ it.

If you don’t like this blog it may be because we got the right words but ‘not necessarily in the right order’. Get it? If you don’t, watch The André Previn One!


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