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Thursday, 7 October 2010

Ha, Ha Said The Clown

I have to own up. I think Julia Hartley-Brewer, next to my wife, is the sexiest woman on the planet. Like my wife she has a great sense of humour and she has such lips! I would drool over her appearances on "Have I Got News for You".

So it came as a bit of a surprise and, dear I say, disappointment to learn that she wrote for "The Daily Express". I somehow thought that funny people weren't like that. However, the fact that she writes for the rag doesn't mean she's not humorous.

Her recent swipe at ourselves and the old enemy, the French, tickled me. Bringing together the English's self loathing and sense of grievance, climate warming and the insertion of a bread stick in the French derrière is a joy to behold.

Being funny is a gift, looking at life with a wry smile, rather than a grimace, is likely to make your stay here much less trying. But what is it that makes someone slap life on its back while another spends most of their time crying on its shoulder? I've no idea.

I thought that our Dave had a few witty moments during his speech at the close of the Conservatives conference yesterday. The vision he conjured up of the humongous Eric Pickles hitting the ground sprinting will stay with me for a long time. He appears to be blessed with a happy disposition, someone at ease with himself - ok, given what he's going to do to the rest of us - he needs to be. Gordon Brown never, ever had them falling about in the aisles: which I'm sure played a part in his downfall.

We Brits are proud of our sense of humour. It's what got us through the Blitz (wasn't it?); more likely through the years of austerity afterwards - so it'll come in handy now.

Others, we believe, aren't so blessed. A short hop across La Manche and you're in a humour free zone - the European laughless Community; or so fable has it. Only we and the Jews know how to tell a joke: and the Irish and possibly the Scots. We've all had it pretty rough over the years - either because of where we live; dark, dank and cold (the English and the Scots) or how we've been treated (the Jews and the Irish).

The continentals have spent too much time either fighting each other, making money, clocks or wine to laugh. When did you last see a funny German ad? The closest they got was with "vorsprung durch technik"; and that wasn't so humorous.

My respect for Arsene Wenger is boundless; but even I have to admit that he's pretty humourless. Jacque Tati made some of the most wonderfully comic films ever but had a Chaplinesque tragic feel about him. No, when it comes to the French we Brits portray them at their funniest: "'Ello, 'Ello" n'est ce pas?

This is partial. Angela Merkel appears to spend much of her time having a belly laugh as does Italy's Silvio Berlusconi. 

The suspicion is they're laughing at us! Paranoia is a great aid to humour. Ask Hancock or Basil Fawlty.

The Americans don't count. The land that has given the world "Bilko"; "Frazier"; "The Simpsons"; even  "The Monkees" owes it all to its Anglo Irish, Scottish, Jewish mix. (This analysis is slightly imperfect since I'm certain Richard Pryor was neither white nor Jewish).

Which brings me back to Julia Hartley -Brewer: well Joan Simms actually. British female comics - now  where would you begin?

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