Tag Archive: humour


pratchettturtl

if you don’t know who Terry Pratchett is, then you should probably administer yourself a slap to the head.

come on… do it… there, you go. much better

Terry Pratchett is a man who i have never met [altho he did email me once] who has kept me thoroughly entertained for, oh since about 1983 when his first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic, was published and 40 novels later [as well as others not specifically in the discworld universe] he is still one of my absolute favourites.

in fact, my best buddy Reegs, gave me his latest, ‘Rising Steam’ for my birthday and i am still waiting for the right moment to dive into it.

a fictitious world set on a disc which balances carefully on the backs of four elephants who themselves, stand on the back of a giant turtle, A’Tuin, who casually glides through space. part fantasy, part science-fiction, part popular culture, all satirical, Pratchett has managed to create a genre of writing that can’t really effectively be likened to any other. a man called Jasper Fforde comes closest, but even as he is getting better, with his Thursday Next series, i still very much refer to him as “the poor man’s Pratchett” by which i only really mean that he’s not nearly as good.

if you have not yet read one of his novels, you are really missing out.

i just wanted to share some Pratchett quotes with you, which will hopefully give you a glimpse into the genius of the man

ranging from witty, hilarious, so deeply profound, creatively inventive, philosophical to deeply spiritual, Terry Pratchett manages to regularly surprise, taking you from deep laughter to deeply philosophical thought in a moment.

try some of these on for size:

“A good plan isn’t one where someone wins, it’s where nobody thinks they’ve lost.”

[ Terry Pratchett]

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‘If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story.’

[Terry Pratchett, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents]

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“No! Please! I’ll tell you whatever you want to know!” the man yelled.

“Really?” said Vimes. “What’s the orbital velocity of the moon?”
“What?”
“Oh, you’d like something simpler?”

[Terry Pratchett, Night Watch]

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pratchett quotes

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My favourite Terry Pratchett character is Death who arrives without warning when somebody offs it, but with complete warning in that he only ever speaks in CAPITAL LETTERS. So Pratchett used that simple premise to let you, the reader, know that someone is about to [or has just] die, even before they realise it themselves.

 “DON’T THINK OF IT AS DYING, said Death. JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.” 

[Terry Pratchett, Good Omens]

“And what would humans be without love?”
“RARE”, said Death.” 

[Terry Pratchett, Sourcery]

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“The trouble is you can shut your eyes but you can’t shut your mind.”

[Terry Pratchett, Wintersmith]

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“Sometimes I really think people ought to have to pass a proper exam before they’re allowed to be parents. Not just the practical, I mean.”

[Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time]

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“Steal five dollars and you’re a common thief. Steal thousands and you’re either the government or a hero.”

[Terry Pratchett, Going Postal]

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pratchett death

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“It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it’s called Life.”

[Terry Pratchett, The Last Continent]

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“The truth isn’t easily pinned to a page. In the bathtub of history the truth is harder to hold than the soap and much more difficult to find.”

[Terry Pratchett, Sourcery]

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pratchett fire

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“Ankh-Morpork had dallied with many forms of government and had ended up with that form of democracy known as One Man, One Vote. The Patrician was the Man; he had the Vote.”

[Terry Pratchett, Mort]

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“Goodness is about what you do. Not who you pray to.”

[Terry Pratchett, Snuff]

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pratchett crowd

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pratchett boredom

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Terry Pratchett is a self-confessed atheist, but I want to end with the most powerful piece I think he has written, which I have used in a number of preaches in churches and on camps as he really does nail the heart of the gospel, really touching on the premise of WHAT IF THIS STUFF IS TRUE… 

This is from the book titled ‘Carpe Jugulum’ which is a plan on the latin of Carpe Diem [Seize the day] and as it is a story about vampires, is more aptly, ‘Seize the Throat’ and in this passage a young priest from a religion where the god is called Om is walking along with a witch called Granny Weatherwax who is a wily old lady who uses headology [making people believe in the power they think you have but focusing more on herbs and passed down knowledge than actual magic] more than magic to maintain the power people see her as having…

“They walked on in silence. A shower of hail bounced off Granny’s
pointed hat and Oat’s wide brim.

Then Granny said, “It’s no good you trying to make me believe in Om,
though.”

“Om forbid that I should try, Mistress Weatherwax. I haven’t even
given you a pamphlet, have I?”

“No, but you’re trying to make me think, “Oo, what a nice young man,
his god must be something special if nice young men like him helps
old ladies like me,” aren;t you?”

“No.”

“Really? Well it’s not working. People you can believe in,
sometimes, but not gods. And I’ll tell you this Mister Oats…”

He sighed. “Yes?”

She turned to face him, suddenly alive. “it’d be as well for you if
I didn’t believe,” she said, prodding him with a sharp finger. “This
Om…anyone seen him?”

“It is said three thousand people witnessed his manifestation at the
Great Temple when he made the Covenant with the prophet Brutha and
saved him from death by torture on the iron turtle-“

“But I bet that now they’re arguing about what they actually saw,
eh?”

“Well, indeed, yes, there are many opinions-“

“Right. Right. That’s people for you. Now if I’d seen him, really
there, really alive, it’d be in me like a fever. If I thought there
was some god who really did care two hoots about people, and who
watched ’em like a father and cared for ’em like a mother…well,
you wouldn’t catch me saying things like “There are two sides to
every question,” and “We must respect other peoples beliefs.” You
wouldn’t find me just being gen’rally nice in the hope that it’d all
turn out right in the end, not if that flame was burning in me like
an unforgivin’ sword. And I did say burnin’, Mister Oats, cos that’s
what it’d be. You say that your people don’t burn folk and sacrifice
people any more, but that’s what true faith would mean, y’see?
Sacrificin’ your own life, one day at a time, to the flame,
declarin’ the truth of it, workin’ for it, breathin’ the soul of it.
THAT’S religion. Anything else is just…is just bein’ nice. And a
way of keepin’ in touch with the neighbours.

She relaxed slightly, and went on in a quieter voice. “Anyway,
that’s what I’d be, if I really believed. And I don’t think that’s
fashionable right now, ‘cos it seems that if you sees evil now you
have to wring your hands and say, “Oh deary me, we must debate
this.” That’s my two penn’orth, Mister Oats. You be happy to let
things lie. Don’t chase faith, ‘cos you’ll never catch it.” She
added, almost as an aside, “But, perhaps, you can live faithfully.”

Her teeth chattered as a gust of icy wind flapped her wet dress
around her legs.

“You got another book of holy words on you?” she added.

“No,” said Oats, still shocked. He thought: my god, if she ever
finds a religion, what would come out of those mountains and sweep
across the plains?”

[Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum]

So there is Terry Pratchett for you, and if you haven’t yet, i hope this will have encouraged you, even just out of curiosity to go and find a copy of ‘The Colour of Magic’ and give it a chance… i found that around books 6, 7, 8 [Wyrd Sisters, a parody of Macbeth, Pyramids, with the greatest character name ever devised, ‘Yousonofabitch’ the camel*, and Guards, Guards!] he really started blossoming, but it is worth getting the back story of the first few to get into the characters and description of the world.

[*post script – turns out our minds ‘remember’ funny things – the camel’s name was ‘You Bastard’ so i at least got the concept right… and he was also the greatest camel mathematician of his time – other camels in the book went by the names, ‘Evil-Smelling-Bugger, Bloody Stupid and You Vicious Brute]

I leave you with one last piece of piercing Pratchettian wisdom and observance:

pratchett quote

you probably have to be a regular reader of Pearls [before Swine] and an appreciator of the croc and ‘Zeeba’ dynamic to appreciate this one… but if you are then you will dig it – snuck into my inbox while i was in South Africa…

pearlsbeforeglass

[For a Pearls before Swine cartoon depicting the great intellect – not-so-much – of Pig, click here]

[For a Pearls before Swine strip one listening well, click here]

[Continued from part i]

as i said before, one thing i take really seriously in life, is humour:

‘To me, clowns aren’t funny. In fact, they’re kind of scary. I’ve wondered where this started and I think it goes back to the time I went to the circus, and a clown killed my dad.’

[Jack Handey] 

‘I imagine a horse drawn carriage would be a really ugly thing. For starters, it must be almost impossible to grip a pencil with hooves. Plus there is all that fine detail around the edges to consider.’

[Brett Andy]

[one of my funniest guys followed by one of my attempts at making humour like on of my funniest guys, which you can find more of here]

so i didn’t actually plan to write the previous blog post – it just kinda was there and i started on it and suddenly it became this thing needing to be ended off before it became a book and since i hadn’t finished going where i was wanting to go when i started it, i figured i should carry on. it was one of the most personal blogs i have written and contained some stories and revelations that i have never really shared with anyone, especially the bullying stuff. i guess because my self-identity was pretty strong from quite a young age, due to my faith in God, that that stuff never really got to me so much, or at least not in a way that led to any destructive behaviour or anything.

one of the main points of it was that i really hoped to be quite funny in life and in certain contexts and with particular people i have been – and maybe that is enough, or should be – but i guess i always secretly harboured the hope that on stage or in a book or online or something i would be ‘discovered’ and a whole lot more people would find me funny. and also wanting to write a funnier blog [not always but sometimes, something that would really make people happy] and realising that for me that is a really difficult thing to do – i really seem to struggle to write funny [more than i struggle to be funny] and i’m not sure why that is, but stop it.

someone who i think achieves that writing-wise is a woman named Jamie Wright who calls herself The Very Worst Missionary and her blog makes me smile and laugh on quite regular occasions, but she also totally knows how to drive an uber serious point home and nail it between your eyes. [a classic of hers would be how she manages to capture so brilliantly awkwardly her mistrust and lack of skill at ‘The Hug’ – take a look at this one!]

when it comes to stand-up, which i’ve always wanted [but been too scared] to try, i have a strong feeling that once i got going i would be great because one of my skills is working a crowd – i have just never been able to come up with the starting material to lay a good foundation to be able to work a crowd from. and so i never have. and perhaps i never will. [although in my mind i still like to at least think i will and maybe the material that is naturally rushing towards me in the Americans and African Geography theme might be enough for a set one day altho i will need to disclaim that this is a true story… no, South Africa itself is a country. please stop asking me what country i am from. still South Africa. yes.]

THE FRIEND WHO DID LIGHTS AND AN IMPROV LIFELINE

i guess one of the things i am most grateful to my ex-girlfriend Kirsty for, is having a friend called Karen.

Karen used to do the lights for an improv comedy show in Cape Town called TheatreSports [altho these days they are now called Improguise and they do TheatreSports]and because we were friends with her we ended up going to see quite a lot of their shows. and because we went to see quite a lot of their shows i feel like we eventually got to see them for free or something.

but i sat there for a year and i watched these masters of comedy and improvisation and i thought to myself repeatedly, ‘i can do that’ although in my head i imagine the word ‘better’ probably ended off that particular sentence.

and so, somehow i ended up doing the TheatreSports course with one of the scariest women [when she is mad] who was [and always has been in my experience] the most gentlest person when leading people through a very scary-by-nature class where it is all about making things up on the spot [and perhaps trying to have those things make people laugh!] and who led [and leads] and incredible class and i really, honestly believe that everyone in the world should do the Introduction to TheatreSports course once in their life as it is so helpful for learning to think creatively, for helping break your inhibitions and for teaching you how to be generous in helping other people look good.

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# let me give a bit of a sidebar here, because i believe this is of the utmost importance in terms of my journey – the way TheatreSports generally works is that you do the course and then there are three options given to you:

1. Thanks for doing the course. I hope you had fun. You will make an excellent librarian.

2. Thanks for doing the course. I hope you had fun. We would love to have you as part of our team. Feel free to join us for class once a week and we would love you to do the front of house and lights for approximately 6 months before you ever have a hope of being on stage. [this is not said to people but is the general understanding – new people from a course do door and lights for about 6 months before any of them are given a shot on stage and some of them might never be]

3. Thanks for doing the course. I hope you had fun. We would like you to play in two week’s time.

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From most of the courses i have been around for, i can’t remember many more than three people [out of a group that might be 15 to 25] be asked to join us for class. i think everyone who has been invited to class has been a number 2 in terms of the descriptions above.

In fact, i have only ever seen one number 3 that i remember [and that could really just be my memory, but this is the one that stands out] and that was me. And i honestly don’t know that i would have managed to stick around for 6 months not playing if i had not been given the chance. Hopefully i would have. But i know for absolute sure, that the fact that i got on to stage to play with them almost immediately was the hugest boost for my confidence and in my opinion, improvisation is 80% confidence and 20% skills and funny or something like that.

Ashley Brownlee and Megan Choritz, now Furniss, are in my opinion the best TheatreSports players i have ever worked with [and there have been a bunch of other hugely talented people as well] and the secret with them was that they could come up with amazing ideas most of the time… but on occasion they could also have a pretty crap idea and deliver it with an amazing character or with such incredible confidence that it would be brilliant and the audience would love them. i have seen many lesser skilled players have amazing ideas and deliver them nervously and they have crashed and burned. so much of it is confidence. and i am so grateful that, for what ever reason [maybe shortage of players when i was around] i was given the chance to get on to the stage quite quickly.

and sometimes i was good. and sometimes i was really really bad.

i remember one excrutiating Rag show we did in the Baxter theatre [an annual show for the local university students where they got stand-up often filthy comedy for an hour and then we brought our family friendly show for an hour] where we were playing a warm-up game called ‘Environment’ which is a guessing game where the audience pick three words while you are out of the room and then you come in and play the scene in the environment they give you and try stumble on to the words.

Ashley Brownlee: best guy i ever played with.

Ashley Brownlee: best guy i ever played with.

 Ours was set in a Spur and i got stuck on stage as the head waiter or chef as teammate after teammate came on and guessed food suggestions for the last word we just couldn’t get and left again. Embarrassing, awkward, awful and i died a little inside. fortunately i also remember one of my highlight moments ever came at the end of that show and i forget the exact scene but we were playing Music Style Replay and Ashley and i managed to get our tongues stuck to a frozen ski lift and were singing a rousing duet that brought the house down.

i played with the TheatreSports crew for just under a year and in the beginning there is very much [even if just in your head] the feeling of you being the newcomer and this subtle gap between you and the regular players – they don’t treat you any differently and it is probably again linked to a confidence thing [as early on, most of the notes sessions we have after a show where we discuss how things went and try to learn from them, seem to be aimed at you because you are messing up the most] but i do remember the moment ‘it happened’ and suddenly i was one of the team – and having played for 11 years with them i got to see that dynamic happen with other people as well where there is this moment of ‘yup, you’re really in’ and i imagine each player probably experiences that differently.

so if my first lifeline was being thrown quickly on to stage, my second lifeline happened a year or two later. as i mentioned i was with TheatreSports for a year and then i went overseas to do the Youth With A Mission course that i did in Holland, heading to the UK and London specifically first so as to make money to pay for it. but before i left i really thought it would be a great idea to proselytise the entire team and in a very messy way that was brought about by circumstances and time constraints and fear i guess, i ended up writing a long letter comparing aspects of TheatreSports and improv games and then giving it to each of them and leaving the country.

it did not go down so well.

SO MUCH GRACE AND LOVE 

and i was away for just over a year and i knew that everyone was really pissed with me. and so i just tried to keep/build relationship by sending postcards and emails and staying in touch and letting them know that i missed them.

time managed to heal a lot of wounds. and my TheatreSports crew were incredibly gracious. i remember literally having one moment back stage with my ‘Stunt Double’ friend Sarah before going on to do a show and then it was left in the past. it was a few months after my return that i felt my moment of transition from ‘new guy’ to ‘one of the team’ and i just soared from there.

so much fun. so much funny. so many great memories and great memories of not-so-great-corporate-show memories and trips to Namibia and Sun City and all around Cape Town for a whole bunch of very different shows. i loved getting to lead TheatreSports courses with Megan and others in the team. fionaquite possibly one of the fun highlight moments of life [and a running gag between me and my teammate] was the time Fiona Du Plooy and i were doing a workshop at a boy’s school in Cape Town and playing a game where you basically set up the next kid in line with an action [with the strong instruction to never make anyone do anything you would not do yourself] and one of the boy’s when asked ‘what are you doing?’ [usually the answer is something like ‘I’m eating an ice-cream’ and then the next kid mimes eating an ice-cream] responded with ‘I’m sucking a ferret’ and despite losing Fiona almost completely to giggles at the suggestion, before we had a chance to interject and re-emphasise the instruction, the next boy in line mimed sucking a ferret as if it were a giant lollipop… needless to say we needed a time-out to get Fiona back and it has been a private joke between us for years…

the key focus of TheatreSports is teamwork and making each other look good and i think i took a little while to learn that one, whereas i was surrounded by generous folks who were always modelling it for me – but i tended to try to get the laugh for myself and often do it at the expense of the scene or the believability of the scene and that was never very cool of me and i often got ‘shouted at’ in notes. i guess it was the struggle between finally having the space and the skills to be funny and having people [a whole audience of them] think i was. but i owe so much to that tireless group of improvisers who showed me grace and forgiveness and patience on so many occasions as i learnt to do improvisation more as a team player.

altho one aspect does stand apart from all of that. my favourite game from the beginning [my watching days] was a game called Sign, where much like the recent Mandela memorial service, someone gets up and makes up a whole lot of sign language. the game is played as an interview where two people are given a topic and the third person recreates the entire interview in a made-up sign language.

in my opinion, Ashley Brownless is the king of that game. is and always will be. i used to love watching him do the sign language and because he was so good, no one else ever wanted to try it. if we played Sign, Ashley was going to do the signing.

signi imagine there must have been times when Ashley wasn’t around during our time at TS together and i probably would have tried doing it. but it was really when Ashley left that i started doing it more and more and then suddenly i became the go-to person for sign and at some point people even started referring to it as my game. that was a big moment for me. i have always said that i am not as good an actor as most of the rest of TheatreSports [who generally had some kind of dramatic training] and so when it comes to creating [and holding] characters and making scenes happen, i was always on the back foot [especially in the early days, hopefully i’ve improved]. so i used to generally excel at games that involved words or quick wit or cleverness [my absolute favourite game being one we invented as a team called Jonathan’s Lisp where we would get two consonants from the audience and if it was a ‘F’ and a ‘P” then ever ‘F’ in the scene that our characters spoke would be replaced with a ‘P’ – it was a lot of silly pun].

so the idea that i was really good at one particular game really was a great ego and confidence boost for me. and i just also loved playing that particular game so much as well.

and so being part of that amazing group of creative and clever and witty and adventurous and generous people is one of the things i really miss a lot from being away from South Africa [for close to three years now – although in Jan this year they let me play a bunch of shows when i was there and that was so much fun!]

MY NON-EXISTENT [SO FAR] INTERNATIONALIMPROV CAREER

and i did audition for two shows while i was over here:

[1] the first was a group called Comedysportz in Philly and they were really great – as with TheatreSports days of old i would sit in the audience and watch their show and think, ‘I am definitely better than at least half of these people’ and so i was super amped to play but in all honesty probably would not have had the time with our Philly work/home schedule – I went to an audition [and i really suck at auditions – my humour, as mentioned, works well playing off an audience] and thought i did decently, but they auditioned about a hundred people in three days in three minute auditions and so i really didn’t have much of a chance and didn’t make it. i was bummed, but playing improv for 11 years with an amazing bunch of people back home and knowing i could do it, meant that it didn’t ding my confidence or identity at all. their loss really. i still enjoyed watching a bunch of their shows and made friends with some of the people who played and they had some really great players as well.

[2] in the first few weeks in Oakland we found a place online and i went and auditioned there and they said they would email us back with the results within 24 hours and i never heard back from them. i auditioned with about 12 other people and easily thought i was in the top 2 so really didn’t think i wouldn’t get in. however, while i was auditioning, my wife Val was outside waiting for me and got to witness their ‘A-Team’ practising and she told me later it was a really horrible experience with people blocking each other and fighting on stage and just doing a bunch of stuff that didn’t make for good improv. so bullet dodged i guess.

but i do miss playing and am looking forward to a guest appearance at a show or two in Jan/Feb when we head home for a visit which is but weeks away. i have been playing around with the idea of perhaps running an improv course here in Oakland and seeing if we can get a little something together. but we will have to see.

so the TheatreSports crew and my years in improv definitely helped play a huge role in terms of me finding my funny and it has been so amazing to perform for and entertain literally thousands of people over the last decade and more. thank you thank you thank you to everyone who played big and small roles in that.

i feel like there is one more part to share [anyone make it down this far?] which will focus on the more recent years, my failed attempts at viral success and my discovery of a really tiny audience who really appreciate my funny way more than they should and have inspired me to keep on trying simply because i love seeing how they interact and looking at attempts at Jack Handeyesque humour, a nutcase called Brad Fish [who at least four schools in South Africa invited into their online classrooms to teach English to], my standup pulpit and the biggest [and sometimes hardest but most fulfilling when it comes] laugh to strive for – that of tbV.

to close off, one of my favourite movie lines which comes from a Bond movie and was perhaps meant in all seriousness, but which i find one of the greatest and funniest lines of all time – picture Sean Connery’s James Bond strapped to a table with a gold laser beam making its way slowly towards his privates as villain Auric Goldfinger looks on:

James Bond: Do you expect me to talk?

Goldfinger: No, Mister Bond, I expect you to die.

[to be continued…]

corpsing megan

I did that. Gold medal right there.

and of course in 11 years of improv’ing where more often than not i have been on the opposing team to Megan, one of my favourite [naughty] things to do is when we do play a game together and i find a way to corpse [make her break character and laugh] her – because she is such a pro that it doesn’t happen often, hence the challenge, and the reward when this results:

[To continue on to part iii which looks largely at my stand-up preaching and the three jokes i invented, click here]

one thing i take really seriously in my life, is my humour:

“She turned me into a newt!”

[pause]

“I got better.”

[Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail]

one of my favourite lines ever!

…and there have been so many. and i know that comedy appreciation is a very personal thing and so my “incredibly funny” might be your “pass the salt” but i can’t help feeling like i used to be funny…

i remember writing the funniest story ever when i was in school – i think it was some kind of messed up fairytale or something like that and it was so incredibly brilliant, at least until one thing happened. i read it. it might have been a year later –  i feel like some significant time had passed – but i read it and it was completely awful. worst story ever. okay, maybe not, but it was up there, or down there or something.

being funny was really important to me as a young child, cos i remember this one talent evening or something at the church where i dressed up crazy [which might be why i hate dressing up] and i took my 1001 jokes book [it was blue – these things stick with you] and i tried to be funny and i was laughed at. a lot.

but in the wrong way. when i look back now it was clearly bullying – two older guys who i looked up to [one of them in particular, and his dolt of a friend] really made fun of me and made me feel like a big piece of crap and when i remember back then i see that they did it in other ways as well and actually physically bullied me a bit as well [at the time i made all kinds of excuses for it, because after all they were the cool guys i wanted to impress and be around and so it was just stuff bigger kids did] and it definitely had a profound impact on me.

i think to some extent my self confidence was shot and i secretly [in my head or heart or wherever was left undamaged] vowed to myself to not perform for people again unless i was confident i could pull it off.

THE HUMOUR OF A MISSED CRICKET CAREER

this is somewhat linked to the time, i imagine, that i started getting interested in cricket and enjoyed watching it and then decided i wanted to play and so i went to a cricket practice but i remember that on the day i was on the field and heading towards where the cricket guys were practising [this was primary school still] and then for some reason i can’t remember, i wasn’t sure exactly where to go and i was scared of getting embarrassed by ending up at the wrong place and so i gave up and went home and just never gave it a try… became one of the hugest fans ever [on my last trip to South Africa i think we made amends when i dressed up with my buddy MJ as Lord of the Rings characters and he let me be Gandalf and even ducked back outside to get my staff the security had confiscated and snuck it back inside and we made it onto tv for a decent amount of time – thankx for the free therapy, buddy] but i never officially played and actually only ever played 3 or 4 social games of it my whole life and every single time Africa[except the last time, which also brought on my MJ, had me damaging a finger before we started playing from a miscatch and then getting a giant roastie scar in the shape of Africa on my leg from sliding along the gravel trying to cut off a 4 – i didn’t] i took a Jonty Rhodes [my former hero and best fielder in the world ever, don’t even jokingly try bring up Ponting’s name] type catch… and still sometimes seriously wonder today if i wouldn’t have been a him type player if i’d had the confidence to just go to that practice. sad face.

but back to the comedy. so i started studying funny. not officially but in my mind, very intentionally i started watching what worked for other people and what didn’t and what i could do or say that would make people laugh and what didn’t and i constantly tried to work on becoming funnier [holding to that principle of i don’t want to try it unless i know it will succeed]

QUIETLY WORKING AT IT IN THE SHADOWS

i was friends in high school with a guy who went on to become one of South Africa’s more successful comedians in terms of one man shows and corporates and right now he is starring in a UK version of Aladdin alongside IQ heroine Jo Brand and getting his name dropped in virtually every review of the show as a standout performer. His name is Alan Committie and i’ve always felt that i was as funny as him at high school [i’m sure he’ll disagree, as will countless others, but i always thought so] but lacked the confidence to go on a stage and risk not being laughed at.

i really do believe that made the difference back then – i feel like Alan and i were both pretty funny, but he had the confidence and self belief to go with it and so he and a guy called Greg Hutch became the MC’s and faces-of-comedy and go-to people at our high school and i faded quietly into the background and had a largely lonely high school career as far as being at school was concerned. in fact, i was once bullied at high school [threatened?] into being in a drama play with a bunch of lazy thugs [at the time – they’re all marvelous well-adjusted people today, i’m sure] who didn’t want to do any work and so i wrote a piece-o-crap comedy for them to do and they absolutely stunk at it and it felt like a nice fine piece of revenge at the time…

i don’t know that i am as funny as Alan is – he is incredibly talented and i think it was the i’m-funnier-than-him notion in my head that i always held strongly on to when i saw a couple of his one man shows and thought he wasn’t ‘that great’ [especially the one where i threw peanuts at him or something from the audience and he eventually heckled me back] but i remember seeing him in ‘Defending the Caveman’ [which he took over from the incredibly talented Tim Plewman, who everyone raved about] having watched the original and not been as amped as everyone else… and really thinking Alan nailed it and was way better [don’t tell Tim!] but i think that was a bit of a healing piece for me to be able to see Alan after the show and genuinely be able to tell him i thought he was brilliant and then just being able to really cheer him on since then. and so cool seeing him absolutely blow audiences away over there and read amazing reviews and hear and see that he got to meet Andrew Flintoff and tell him that English cricket is pretty rubbish [not a joke!] Go Alan!

COLLEGE RE-INVENTION 

so i somehow ended up at Mowbray teacher’s training college learning how to be a primary school teacher. i had wanted to do a one year mission thing with Scripture Union and my folks hadn’t been so amped and so i went to a career’s guidance counselling evening at school  and the primary school teacher spoke the best and so i ended up there [true story]

i can’t remember how it happened but i do remember it being intentional. something about not digging being shadow man at school i decided that i was going to ‘take over the college’ [it was a small college of a thousand or two students] and become ‘the funny guy’ and somehow i managed it. it didn’t help that i wasn’t too interested in the primary school teaching aspects of the college with it not being my first choice and all and i also got involved with the wrong crowd early on [not so much the drug-taking, bank-robbing, mtv-award-twerking crowd as simply a bunch of okes who had failed a year at college and weren’t so much into the academic side of things]

within the first week i ended up giving blood for the first time [which i loved and love and you should do it and stop being a wuss! giving blood saves lives!] but i also somehow ended up being in the company of i think five students of which two had failed a year and one was my friend Heidi [who i a few years ago reconnected with on Facebook which has been great] who used to faint every time she gave blood and for some reason faking a faint from giving blood in the biggest lecture of the day suddenly became this thing to be done – we were about to have a lecture called ‘Intro to teaching’ which we thought was going to be done by one particular lecturer and so thought it would be fun if we walked into his class and i pretended to faint [i forget the reasoning, i told you i’m no Alan Committie] and so we planned the whole thing and Heidi gave me fainting tips and we did a few practice runs upstairs [the lecture was downstairs] and Ricky was going to walk behind me and catch me – plan sorted.

only problem was that as we were descending the stairs [a spiral staircase] next to the tiered lecture hall where the lecture was going to take place i peeked through the window and caught site of Dr Bauer. Now Dr Bauer was the lecturer i had met in my interview to gain acceptance at the college and he seemed like a much more important person than whoever was meant to be taking the class and so suddenly i was in two minds and was asking the gang, “um so Dr Bauer is there, should i still do it? hey guys, are we still going to go through with it?” and they just kept walking and totally ignored me and so we walked into the class, turned an immediate left and started walking up the stairs to our seats when suddenly i just decided NOW OR NEVER, closed my eyes and dropped…

side note: turns out that because that was our first week of teacher’s training college, the Intro to Teaching lecture was a time where the rector [principal] and heads of all the departments came down to share their wisdom and insights with all these young, passionate, first year students eager to learn how to become the best teachers they could be…

[time passed]

there was a lot of noise [part of it caused by me as Ricky had thought i was going to bail and so wasn’t ready to catch me and so i landed heavily on the floor] and i felt myself being lifted up [still not realising all of who was in the lecture hall as i was so nervously trying to figure out do we do this or not that i never saw any of the panel of lecturers] and carried out of the room and placed on the floor and i open my eyes and am staring into the eyes of the rector [quick decision: this is now a real faint brett, you really fainted, you didn’t joke faint – that’s the guy who can kick you out of the college] and so i instantly closed my eyes, trying not to laugh… Dr Bauer in the meantime paced it upstairs to the cafeteria and comes down and starts feeding me gummy bears to try and raise my sugar levels and the rector keeps telling me to open my eyes but every time i do i see him and Ricky and Dr Bauer and Heidi and i have to close them so as not to laugh… so here is the scene – fake faint boy lying on the ground being fed gummy bears opening and closing his eyes like some kind of blinking idiot [literally!]

i never got into trouble for that and so i like to kind of think we pulled it off, although i do remember the next day or later that week or something, bumping into Dr Bauer and he said something like “I know what you did” or “So you got away with it?” or something like that and when i stammered back, “Um, what?” he changed it to refer to something else [like handing in a piece of work or something like that] but he had the kind of wink in his eye that suggested that just maybe he had figured out that the whole thing was not completely legit…

so that was my introduction to college, and i [to some extent, at least in my own mind and memory, others may have other recollections of the time] became ‘the funny guy’ erasing all the bad memories of high school and finding that attention and crowd appreciation that i had so desired.

[this story, like any other, is so multi-layered so that definitely is not the whole of it and it doesn’t make sense that someone would go from not funny and behind the scenes to funny and center of some attention just like that – i had in the last couple of years been involved in many Scripture Union holiday clubs and week-long and weekend camps as well as been involved in youth ministry in church and i think had gained a lot of confidence and ability to make people laugh at those places which perhaps provided the springboard to intentionally launch myself forwards]

there is a lot more to say and so we’ll have to have another part – there are tales of improv and preaching and summer camps, Brett Andy and Brad Fish moments and whatever it was that got me to the point of sitting down and writing a post about wishing i was funny… er… and so to be continued…

but in the meantime, two other lines from two very silly movies that i really enjoy probably way more than i should are both relating to death and go:

“Kill him a lot!”

and

“Kill him until he dies from it!”

Anyone know the movies?

[continued over here with the Improv Years]

So part IV of the Brett Andy survey garnished the most votes so far and the clear winners were these two:

[6] “THEY SAY YOU SHOULD GRAB LIFE BY THE BALLS, WHICH IS TRUE, BUT ALSO NEVER CONFUSE LIFE WITH ANOTHER MAN.” [Brett Andy]

[4] “WHAT IF LIFE GOES STRAIGHT TO GIVING YOU LEMONADE? I’M NOT SURE WE’VE BEEN SUFFICIENTLY PREPARED FOR THAT POSSIBILITY.” [BRETT ANDY]

which was a little sad for me cos this one was one of my early favourites but didn’t quite grab the crowd support this time round – “I STARTED A BUSINESS DESIGNING AND MANUFACTURING SHOES FOR CIRCUS CLOWNS USING THE LEAD FROM DISCARDED PENCILS. BUT I HAD TO STOP ONCE I WAS MADE AWARE OF THE HUGE CARBON FOOTPRINT I WAS CREATING.” [BRETT ANDY]

which brings us to the last and final round [until such a day as i come up with some new ones] and so please once more indicate by number which your top 1 to 3 selections are from the following list:

[1] ‘As I slowly moved my piece across the board, I quietly but firmly declared, “I think that’s checkmate!” Since then my gran refuses to do jigsaw puzzles with me any more.’ [Brett Andy]

[2] ‘As the noose tightened, it felt like my breath was being forced out of my lungs, and my whole life flashed instantly before me. Wait, not ‘noose’ I mean ‘necktie.” [Brett Andy]

[3] ‘I reckon I can forgive that evil scientist who injected me with that advanced memory serum, but I will never forget.’ [Brett Andy]

[4] ‘Do you know what makes me laugh? A taxidermist filling out tax forms in a taxi. Get yourself an accountant, man.’ [Brett Andy]

[5] ‘I did a search for Spiderman on the web the other day.’ [Brett Andy]

[6] ‘Before you criticise someone, walk a mile in their shoes. Then, walk half a mile in their shirt, followed by another full mile in their pants. Walk two more miles in their underwear and then criticise them all you want. Oh and also, they’re naked.’ [Brett Andy]

[7] ‘”Pay a R10 fine or take a chance,” my girlfriend read aloud off the Monopoly card. “Okay,” I said, “Those jeans make you look fat.”‘ [Brett Andy]

[8] ‘I wish I had the balls to do that, I thought, as I enviously watched the juggler.’ [Brett Andy]

[9] ‘I wondered, ‘Is it white with black stripes, or black with white stripes?’, which was all fairly strange as I was looking at a giraffe at the time.’ [Brett Andy]

So there you have it… final individual round – what are your top three? Will you go for jigsaws, juggling or jeans? Leave your selection in the comments section below. And thankx for taking time to vote…

[If you missed out on previous rounds and want to go and add your votes to the rest, click here]

 

So the results are in for the Brett Any survey round 3 and the winners in no particular order were:

[3] ‘Last night I dreamed I ate a giant marshmallow and when I woke up this morning my pillow was gone. I found it later on the floor next to my bed. It probably got knocked off during the night or something.’ [Brett Andy]

 [5] ‘ “Out, Out damned Spot!” cried lady Macbeth, but still the mutt refused to budge.’ [Brett Andy]

which is a pity cos i feel like [1] and [4] were class, which just goes to show we don’t all find the same things funny and that’s okay…

Moving on to round 4 and once again if you could choose your top 1 to 3 of these and then indicate if there is one or more you would choose to omit from future volumes…

Thank you muchly for your time and remember every vote counts…

[1] “I STARED AT THE MAN EATING TIGER AND BEGAN TO WONDER IF THIS RESTAURANT WAS A TAD TOO EXOTIC FOR MY SIMPLE TASTES.” [Brett Andy]

[2] “SCISSORS ARE CRUSHED. PAPER IS CUT TO SHREDS. ROCK IS LYING THERE GOING, “OH NO, THERE’S A PIECE OF PAPER ON TOP OF ME, WHAT SHALL I DO?’ [BRETT ANDY]

[3] “AS THE BLIND LADY ENTERED THE SEAFOOD RESTAURANT, SHE PONDERED THE IRONY.” [Brett Andy]

[4] “WHAT IF LIFE GOES STRAIGHT TO GIVING YOU LEMONADE? I’M NOT SURE WE’VE BEEN SUFFICIENTLY PREPARED FOR THAT POSSIBILITY.” [BRETT ANDY]

[5] “I STARTED A BUSINESS DESIGNING AND MANUFACTURING SHOES FOR CIRCUS CLOWNS USING THE LEAD FROM DISCARDED PENCILS. BUT I HAD TO STOP ONCE I WAS MADE AWARE OF THE HUGE CARBON FOOTPRINT I WAS CREATING.” [BRETT ANDY]

[6] “THEY SAY YOU SHOULD GRAB LIFE BY THE BALLS, WHICH IS TRUE, BUT ALSO NEVER CONFUSE LIFE WITH ANOTHER MAN.” [Brett Andy]

[7] “THE THING I FIND FASCINATING ABOUT ELEPHANTS IS THEIR ABILITY TO SHOOT OUT A POWERFUL STREAM OF WATER FOR HOURS AT A TIME. WAIT, NOT ELEPHANTS… FIRE HYDRANTS!” [BRETT ANDY]

So what’s it going to be? You gonna vote for clowns, seafood, tigers or balls? Please your vote in the comments section and get your friends to participate as well.

[To continue on to the 5th and final round of this survey, click here]

nailed it Mr Pastis, nailed it… age is a number and how you act in life truly shows how old you are:

pearlsbeforeage

 

[To find our Rat’s reasons for attending church, click here]

[For Pig’s definition of ‘making out’ click here]

 

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