The Falling Upwards of Fish

The things you laugh at – if they happen to be the same, chances are things are going well between you. But if they don’t…

Things were not going well between me and my ex-husband around the time ‘comedy duo’ Reeves and Mortimer came on the scene. That would have been… in the eighties, sometime. Something about Reeves and Mortimer got my goat – the pair of them annoyed me and they were not funny. One evening, for the umpteenth time, my husband was watching the Reeves and Mortimer show on TV and going Ho Ho Ho – he had such a lovely voice, and a particularly deep and resonant Ho Ho Ho like Santa Claus – and I was thinking, what exactly can I be missing here? And it was then I understood we wouldn’t be sitting together in this house in front of this TV for very much longer. I wasn’t angry at him for enjoying himself. It was the loneliness of watching him splitting his sides in enjoyment of something – to me – so utterly unfunny – at two people I couldn’t see the point of.

A friend of mine had a similar moment. She was sitting in a cinema with her husband, his father and one of his brothers. They all had the same nose – unusually long and sharp. She was on the end of the line, and looking back down the line of seats she saw the three of them tapping their feet and twiddling their thumbs in unison – a family tic. And at that moment she thought, I simply can’t bear this.

Which leads me, by association, to Victor Borge (1909 – 2002) Danish piano player and wit, who once remarked that:

Santa Claus had the right idea. Visit everyone once a year.

Victor Borge was one of the very few comedians who could make me laugh out loud. Even as a child, I loved the one ongoing joke – that he was always about to play the piano but rarely actually did, although when he did he was brilliant.

I found a clip of him on YouTube. Watching him now I see subtleties I missed as a child, and also parallels between the way our two minds work: perhaps it’s that whimsical – or senile – streak. Now I’m that much older I appreciate his bewilderment, his digressions, his casual losing and re-finding of the plot; the way he finds hilarity in the mundane; his upside-down way of looking at things.

Why is upside-down-ness so rare, I wonder? And why is that so necessary?

I will leave you with one last upside down thought, this time from French novelist André Gide:

Fish die belly upward, and rise to the surface. It is their way of falling.

11 thoughts on “The Falling Upwards of Fish

  1. I agree about the shared humour thing. Also other things… I remember one of my internet gfs suggesting we watch “Extreme Fishing” on TV. I laughed. I thought it was a joke. It was the kind of joke I would tell. She was being serious….

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    1. OMG – Extreme Fishing! I quite liked little Robson Green until I caught sight of him in that. What a brute. What an idiot. Poor fish! But what can you expect of a man whose middle name is Golightly?

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      1. Golightly? My word. Audrey Hepburn will be turning in her grave. I think much was to do with the fact she (doomed gf, not Audrey) had a thing about soldiers and had been married to one. Robson wasn’t even a real soldier. And I am not even remotely so inclined *sigh*

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      2. At least now there’s the internet you can weed out the weirdos without having to meet them in the flesh. One man (I think he was a nightclub bouncer – I found him in the small ads column of the local newspaper) insisted on checking the size label in my coat, and informed me that he liked Big Ladies and I wasn’t Big enough. And that was that.

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    1. The moment someone says something like that, it’s obvious – but not before. It’s that moment of poetry. I read somewhere that a really good poem will make the reader feel Yes – that’s how I felt, too – that’s exactly what I meant to say.

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  2. I love Victor Borge (all my life, every stage!), and yet, my husband neither got his humor nor that in “Toy Story” that had son and myself literally bent in half with frequent laughter. Suffice it to say he also did not get the humor of the Blue Man Group, expensive(ish) tickets that son had gotten us one cold Christmas, because I had so greatly wanted to see them in person someday. It was a horrible afternoon, finished off by his taking a fall on ice with both hands in his pockets as we rushed for the train. We stopped in a coffee shop for its napkins for the bleeding. We’d make a great if tragic sitcom. He likes the rough slapstick, like that of the 3 Stooges or Jackie Gleason shows. Ugh. I sympathise with you. (I just changed the “z” in that word, because I like you so much!)

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  3. I’m honoured – don’t think I’ve ever had a ‘z’ changed for me before 🙂

    It’s funny – it was quite a while ago that I wrote this post and, seeing the title, I first of all thought ‘I wonder what that was about?’

    Then, when I started to read it, I thought – that story about the friend with the husband, father and brother-in-law with the identical very sharp noses and the tapping feet and the twiddling thumbs – wouldn’t that make a good post? And lo and behold I had written it already!

    She did divorce him, by the way. I ended up (‘faute de mieux’) going out with him for a two whole years, after Ex. She was so right.

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