Fun Stuff > Humour
Our daughter's life motto made it to the fun pages of the Bravo magazine. Are we famous... finally?
Bravo to a Life Motto
Never Too Late. It occurred to us to have a famous celebrity in the family. Almost, at least, as a quotation by my daughter was printed in the Bravo-Magazine's joke section. The teeny gazette is around for decades, just thinking of those days when "Winnetou" Pierre Brice made a record cover girl appearance in the 1960's... (or how do you call that with long haired men?) Also Nena, nowadays touring as part of her "50 Party", was regularly found on Bravo-covers in the 1980's, preferably posing with a red balloon, as not all 99 could fit in the picture. Bravo remains among the most popular German mags for uprising super stars to be and... those that want to read about their favourite music hero, film star, joke or... life motto. As we learned, you could even cash 20 Euros, if your humorous contribution made it into these prestigious pages. But back to my daughter's wonderful words of wisdom: "You are never too late, the others are simply too early!"
Elvis' Good Laugh
Giggle King. Have you already experienced that feeling of totally cracking up over a situation that isn't especially funny, if you look at it objectively? Laughter can be a healing feeling of complete relief following moments of great tension or just an infectious, natural giggle over somebody dancing or otherwise acting funny, willingly or unwillingly. A laugh attack can happen to anybody, even to a King... as demonstrated by the King of Rock'n'Roll himself! One of the funniest moments in music history has been Elvis Presley cracking up in laughter during a live performance of his hit single "Are you Lonesome Tonight?"
Bold Joke. Apart from driving young girls crazy by shaking his lower section, "The King" would occasionally make fun of his own songs by altering the lyrics. Already during the 1968 Comeback Special he had joked: "Are you lonesome tonight, does your hair look a fright?" In the famous "laughing version" during his Midnight Show performance at the Las Vegas International Hotel in August 1969, he changed the line "Do you gaze at your doorstep and picture me there?" to "Do you gaze at your bald head and wish you had hair?" Legend has it that Elvis began laughing, when he saw a man in the front row of the audience flipping his toupee in the air, hence the ad-lib. Or maybe he had just been smoking some happy cigarettes? The soprano backup singer kept wailing away, adding fuel to the fire. As she went for the high notes, he encouraged her: "Sing it, baby!" From that point on Elvis just couldn't stop laughing… and laughing.
Smilin' (tryin' to)
Smiley Face. It is time for a reflection about comic & comedy, as triggered by humour and resulting in laughter. The latter is described in Umbero Ecco's "The Name of the Rose," bestselling novel of the early 1980's, as deforming the face while healing the soul. A book about child development outlines that laughing consists of a sequence of short screams in surprise without feeling any real danger. With adults, laughing can be triggered by politeness (false laughter) or real happiness. It makes a difference, if somebody smiles, but not with the eyes. For some say, you can sense a real smile by paying attention whether the eye muscles are constricted. Humour itself differs individually but can also be classified by general cultural tendencies.
Bright Side. British humour on the one hand is often very radical, thinking of the whistle at a crucifixion in Monty Python's "Life of Brian" movie and even worse in the "Jackass" MTV show since 2000 with its unappetizing and dangerous "fun" games. Totally opposite to the conservative always suited habit of those tie men with a bowler, found on the island as well. German humour on the other hand always knows its borders and is rather very trivial than daring to question institutions as such. The result of a huge respect of authorities and being used to strictly follow orders in daily life to reach collective economical success. American imports like the legendary "Munsters" and "Addams Family" TV shows contain background laughter already, directing the audience as a part of collective guardianship it is apparently meant to be used to.
Favourite Things. Austrian humour, finally, may be more subtle, often hard to detect. The mentality feels slower, sometimes unfriendly but with a blink, as (unintentionally?) caricatured in the locally often unknown international success musical "The Sound of Music," based on the elements of kitsch, yodeling and "schnitzel with noodles" as one of their favourite things. And so it is hard to collectively classify habits, knowing that humour in the end individually finds its way through.
Getting Along. From the Bravo teen magazine of today to Elvis, the side burned idol of - hmmm older - teenies it is a big jump. But believe it or not, the rock'n'roller from Graceland with the moving hips (did he create the term hippie?) graced the cover of back issues of the same mag, a couple years earlier. As for his laugh attack, it would have stopped immediately, if Preseley would have heard his common Austrian alias: "Broeselmeier - Crumb-Meyer?" So much for kingly humour, let me now find a few more words to fill up this paragraph. Any bright ideas? Well, bravo once more to the daughter. In a way, her motto reminds me of that ol' saying: "Haste makes waste!" About thirty years earlier, our grandmother's "calendar motto" had been published in the Kurier-newspaper: "Life consists to 90% of getting along with people, whom you don't like." Which might be true as well, up to a certain degree. On a second thought, there are so many nice people around... just Crumb-Meyer is gone, if he really is. Cheers.
Winners' Cats Tale (or Tail?): Our grandmother had won two tickets for the Cats musical at a radio station. A billboard welcomed Cats "finally back home again", as a German version of the Webber musical had premiered in Vienna some 30 years earlier...
Tell another one...
British Humour. Enclosed is an example of British humour, a pun received from Milton Keynes the other day: "How do you call a woman with two beers on the head and a pool cue stick in her hand?" Surprisingly the answer is a famous author: "Beatrix Potter" - for "Beer Tricks" and potting billiard balls into the holes. Peter Rabbit would cry.
Black Humour. This one I heard in the US over breakfast. It describes a conversation among two elderly people. The one asks: "Is there baseball in heaven?" The other explains: "Well, I got good news and bad news here for you. Good news is: Yes, there is baseball in heaven." Then he continues: "Bad news is: You are pitching next Thursday!" Again, "The Name of the Rose" mentions unveiling humour up to the most hopeless situation: "It is told of Saint Maurus that when the pagans put him in boiling water, he complained that the bath was too cold. The pagan governor foolishly put his hand in the water to test it, and burned himself." The story kind of reminds me of Stan Laurel's last words, humour up to the last breath... as if laughing in the face of near death.
Blonde in a Bag. Stereotypes are easy to joke about, sometimes too easy. Quite hard to find are bearable examples of blonde jokes: Imagine a brunette, a red head and a blonde being blind passengers on a cruise boat. As a sailor comes along, they quickly hide in bags.Walking by, he kicks the first sack. The brunette hidden inside barks: "Ruff!" He says: "There must be a dog inside." and walks on. Kicking the next sack with the red head inside, he hears: "Meow!" His conclusion: "In this one, there's a cat!" Finally, he gets to the sack with the blonde in. Kicking it, he hears: "Potatoes!"
It feels so good to laugh. Although, sometimes bad jokes get a little out of hand. Poor baby! And for a while the kids liked to play with Graphics Software that could deform faces...
Doc Tarzan. Before dull Blonde jokes took over, there was ongoing defamation of people from the land of castles, inhabitants of the most eastern province of Austria, made fun of like the East Frisians in Germany. Victims of numerous silly jokes like: "What is white and jumps from tree to tree? A (castle-)country doctor performing tick vaccination!" (Less funny though, if you think of the tiny bugs as vicious bloodsuckers causing spring-summer encephalitis and borreliosis.)
Big Bird. Tit-for-tat response included riddles like: "What is the difference between a Viennese and a stork? None, for each got a small brain, big mouth and in summer they are at Lake Neusiedl!" Making fun of 'townies' on the weekend exchanging the city heat for a shallow lake at the Austro-Hungarian border, with lots of bathers and other water birds in its reed belt. Due to slowly but surely proceeding global warming the same lake is endangered to dry out again in one of the next decades, as it had been already a hundred years ago.
Slow Boat. Probably from those days there is this old joke: "How does an inhabitant of Burgenland find out that Lake Neusiedl is dried out?" The answer is: "When the row boat kicks up dust!" Then at least the boat cannot sink anymore due to overload, as happening to us years ago (not personally, as I meant to say, it happened to our rented rowing boat). Anyway, the worst of all must be, if you are blonde and from Burgenland at the same time!
A coalition of laughter during the 1930's at Hal Roach's "Lot of Fun"-studios in Culver City, California. And the grand coalition government made fun of a lot in the 1990's in Vienna, Austria. The boys are seen in overalls from their short film "Busy Bodies."
Comical Coalition. Enclosed is one of the best known pictures of Laurel & Hardy, which was in 1995 used by Gerhard Haderer as the base for his political cartoon of the socialist Chancellor Vranitzky and conservative Vice-Chancellor Schuessel, who were then representing the Grand Coalition in Austria. Can you guess which one is the real comedians and which one is fake?
Confusing Connection. A smile is special after all... As a kid I never valued a smile. It was so natural to be happy and I was of course not smiling when I didn't like things. I still remember my mother ordering me in an elevator not to make such a serious face, which she had interpreted as an attitude of protest, while I just wanted to be elsewhere. As if we could be happy on command. It was only much later that I started smiling, even when I would not agree with things, or maybe because of it. An unexpected smile over a serious topic can even distract others. And at the same time become a more direct approach to open up others, just showing them that you like being around them. As long as it doesn't become routine, overdoing that friendly face in every situation. It remains important to tell others, what you think, and only to make those compliments, which you really mean. When touring places it would occasionally happen that I'd connect with a person just by smiling, then coming over for a chat. So natural, although it would have never occurred to me a couple years ago. I guess, that kind of confidence depends on the stability of your life, which may come with age, possibly.
Our favourite disguise: At Carnival 2007, Fasching as it is called here, we took a special series of pictures in disguise. One of the things I have always valued a lot in my family is this readiness for fun together. Special thanks go to my wife for teaching me how to smile again.
Go to the next page to read about a Wanna-Be-Macho.