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.