Tag Archive: terry pratchett


death

“THAT… IS COMPLETE AND UTTER… RUBBISH!” D muttered, before slamming the door on his way out.

B hated his roommate!

Oh sure, it had seemed like a good idea at the time. Move in with Death? Everyone had been completely jealous. What in the world could be more exciting than that?

And to be honest, in the beginning it had been.

The thrill of watching the sand slowly pouring through the hourglasses. Sneaking a quick peek at whose time was coming next when the old boneshaker was asleep [or at least his version of ‘asleep’ which really meant sitting upright on a chair at the dining table with a pillowcase over his skull to block out some of the light – it could be fairly disconcerting if you walked into the room and found him there].

B’s personal highlight was watching Death struggle awkwardly every single time he mounted his horse Binky before he took off on a job. Every. Single. Time. Why he, Death, chose to ride a real live horse was beyond him. Something dramatic no doubt. Death was nothing short of dramatic.

And yet, as time passed, and in this apartment time really did pass, the initial thrill had worn off quickly.

Death had refused to let him take a look at his own hourglass, muttering something about it not being in the rules, and had kept it well hidden in a secured location somewhere B had as yet been unable to discover.

Oh, and let’s face it, B thought to himself yet again, Death was also a bit of a dick.

He paused for a moment and looked back at his painting. It really wasn’t THAT bad, he thought, before slipping his brush back into the grey and dabbing at the bowl of fruit he was trying to re-create. His mind returned once more to his thoughts about his roommate.

He refused to do his share of the dishes, he always left stuff lying around the apartment, who knows WHAT that thing was in the container right at the back of the fridge – it was beginning to smell beyond bad, and if he paid the most careful of attention as he moved his eyes away from looking directly at it, his peripheral vision was pretty convinced it was starting to move.

B poked once more at the banana, which was starting to look a bit like a… like a… well, clearly not all that much like a banana. He carefully put down the brush, and sighed.

It wasn’t like he didn’t have time to clear up after Death. His own work was so tedious, he was frankly glad any time he came home to find any form of distraction to busy himself with. After another hard day of what? Distributing kitten and baby videos on the various social network platforms. Organising weather forecasts for London.School history orals, political speakers, library visits and apartment bathroom floor tile selection. Not quite the stuff to make a poor ageing mum proud.

‘Maybe I am jealous? Could that be it?’

B picked up his latest creation. ‘Creation’ is a bit of a strong word for this, he thought to himself. ‘Attempt.’ Yes, that’s better. Just.

He took it into his bedroom and tossed it uncaringly on the pile with all the others. Take up a hobby? Whatever had he been thinking?

He threw himself on to his bed and within minutes he had completely succumbed to ennui and despair.

‘Ooh, this is good,’ he thought out loud. ‘This i can use. Perhaps i shall keep that up after all.’

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[With a wink and a nod to the late legend, Terry Pratchett, whose portrayal of Death [my absolute favouritest character of his] i borrowed from to help make my story realer, and whose birthday it would have been yesterday as i wrote this]

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This post is part of a tandem blogging exercise with 9 other bloggerists. One title unwrapped by nine bloggerists. We realise that 9 is a lot of posts to read, but there is a lot of great stuff to be looked at, so please do your best. Why not start with Cath’s post over here, followed by Scott which you can find over here. Welcome Kerry who is new to the team by reading what she came up with over here. Then the rest of the posts can be found below. Maybe bookmark this page and spend the next week checking all of them out. Please share your thoughts on our fun exercise in the comments on each post, and remember that with bloggerists, sharing is always caring. 

Cath: https://t.co/98AE4tkase

Scott: http://squidsquirts.blogspot.com/2015/04/the-art-of-boredom.html

Kerry: https://t.co/zEWHwIT1kh

James: http://www.jamespreston.org/2015/04/the-art-of-boredom.html

Megan: http://www.meganshead.co.za/the-art-of-boredom

Sarah: https://t.co/rHoS76QhMt

Dave: http://t.co/2G0tFmSrSn

Nick: https://medium.com/@nick_frost/the-art-of-boredom-e5da71765c91

[To see the first Tandem Post i did with the title, ‘Meeting the Queen’, click here]

Interrupt the Rot

NY

It is 2 days to go til 2015.

In some ways, most ways actually, nothing really changes when the clock hand ticks off that final second. As a South African, i can be assured that Australians, New Zealanders and more have been experiencing 2015 for hours, and that it will be another ten hours after i do before my friends in Oakland, where we lived for more than half of this year, will be arriving at their own 2015.

It’s just another day.

But also it’s not.

Mentally, emotionally, maybe even spiritually, there is a whole lot more going on and it is a great opportunity to seize, like the wriggly diem that it is, with both hands and make the absolute most of it.

i call it a life stock take and the end of a year, beginning of a year, is a great time to do it, because in our minds something changes.

It is the opportunity for a fresh start in many ways.

And i am not talking about New Year’s Lie-o-lutions. Altho in the past, i have called them Evolutions, and come up with some great posts on ideas of things you might want to change or put in place.

Don’t make ‘promises’, make plans.

If you’re married, this can be a great activity to do with your person as they can help keep you accountable. And if you’re not, you may want to suggest a good friend joins you and you do this together.

Set an hour or two aside in the next day or so. Look at some different aspects of your life [can use a different page for each one] – good habits you would like to keep up or strengthen, bad habits you would like to remove, how you spend your time, how you spend your money, who are the voices you invite to speak into your life, who are you mentoring, how is your eating or your exercise, your sport or your play, any addictions that need some attention [from smoking or drinking or gambling to things like World of Warcraft, Golf or sport-watching, how is your relationship with God, are you reading books written by people of a different race or culture or perspective than your own, who do you need to forgive or ask forgiveness from.

And probably 100 more. Those are just some ideas to get you going.

The point is to stop for a bit. To interrupt the norm. To create the space to catch things you don’t want to be part of your day to day. To create the foundation for 2015 to be a most excellent year.

i would LOVE to hear how it goes…

‘It is often said that before you die your life passes before your eyes. It is in fact true. It’s called living.’ [Terry Pratchett]

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

[Continued from part ii]

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

‘I think that sick people in Ankh-Morpork generally go to a vet. It’s generally a better bet. There’s more pressure on a vet to get it right. People say “it was god’s will” when granny dies, but they get angry when they lose a cow.’

[Terry Pratchett, my favourite comedy author, creator of the Discworld series which you should read]

So continuing the story of my quest for funny and if anyone has made it this far, well done, because this has been lengthy stuff, but it really has shone a bit of a glimpse into a big part of my soul and psyche and just gives an idea of how i think about one aspect of life…

And in a couple of posts there is no possible way i will be able to summarise a 30 plus journey of humour-seeking, but hopefully this has given a bit of an overview with some of the best [and worst] parts.

SOME KEY BULLET POINT MOMENTS ALONG THE WAY

# i used to be really good at sarcasm – no, i mean really, really good, as in hurt-you good. and i remember in high school one of our teachers mentioned that ‘Sarcasm was the lowest form of wit’ and i disagreed because i was good at it and really wanted to keep doing it. but then one day i remember answering sarcastically to some question that had been put to me [and maybe there was a build up and this was the culmination] and i remember seeing a small glimmer of hurt in the person i directed it at and that was the beginning of the realisation for me that not all humour is fun for everyone – some of the fun comes at peoples’ expense, and that is not cool. i know there will be people who think differently to me on this one and all power to you, but i really try my best not to hurt someone else [or make them feel stupid] in the process of trying to get a laugh. i imagine this is one i don’t get right a lot but i think since becoming aware of it and intenti0nal about it, i do it a lot less than i otherwise might have – i really believe that humour is not worth it if it makes someone feel bad. [because different people have different sensitivities and humour preferences this can be a very tricky one but i am at least talking about intentionally making someone else feel/look stupid for a joke]

# there was a specific moment – and i remember that i was sitting at the table in the kitchen of Highbury [the student digs our church ran back in the day] when i had this internal conversation and decision-making moment – when i realised that i am not a big fan of small talk for the sake of small talk. when we are talking about movies or certain sports then i would probably differ on those as movies in general and cricket and formula 1 back in the day i can definitely get into… but it was a time when i realised that i hung out with a bunch of people who got caught up in small talk a lot of the time… and made the decision that in those circumstances, if the options were neutral or funny, i would choose to be funny. don’t get me wrong – i love deep conversations – if we are going real and deep and trying to solve the mysteries of the world or wrestling with an aspect of Christ following or poverty or war or something like that and the conversation is genuine and people are into it, then that is probably my go to place… BUT my realisation that day at that moment was that IF we were not going deep, then i would change my setting to FUNNY [or attempt to] because i enjoyed making people smile and laugh and have a good time.

i imagine that is why in some circles, to some people [and maybe many people] i got the reputation of ‘he can never be serious’ which is not a great reputation to have when you are involved in any form of leadership or you are hoping people will invite you to be part of important things or speak at places… but it was generally the periphery people who would think that. anyone who knew me and took time to spend time with me and wanted to go deep on any conversation would have realised how ridiculous that statement was of me. but, if you only saw me in the neutral situations where it didn’t look like it was going to go deep and i resorted to trying to be funny, then i can understand how you might get that idea. and it’s also not like i am differentiating between serious=good and funny=less good because there are certainly times when funny is the right and best place to go to, but it was simply a distinction i made that linked to how intentional i was at certain times with certain people and it was quite a defining moment in my life.

# lastly, and i should maybe keep this til the end, cos we’re going to suddenly get all serious and you were hoping to read something light and fluffy, but this is such an important one for me. Rape is never funny. Ever. i know that Ricky Gervais and others think differently on this. i know a certain group of people feel like every topic and situation should be able to be joked about, because some of them are so difficult that that is the only way some people can deal with them. but i disagree strongly. more strongly than i am able to say right here. for me there are a few things that should never be joked about and rape is right at the top of the list [along with molestation, sodomy and other related issues]. because i know people who have been raped and sexually abused and it must be one of the most devastating violating experience and the idea that someone would make light of it, or even joke about it when someone who has been raped might be in the audience, is just for me one of the most awful things ever.

when ‘raped’ started to become a light-hearted descriptive word for ‘got the better of’ as in the context of a sporting team losing badly or someone really being taken down by an exam [and you can read my rant about that here] that frustrated me no end and i took on a couple of people [mostly in their inbox rather than their facebook wall where they said it] every time i saw it being used in that context and just challenged them on the hurt it could bring to someone who had been through that seeing the word being used so lightly [many still disagree]. ‘

i believe there has to be a line. and for me ‘raped’ is it. i also am not a fan when people joke about marriage or divorce, simply because i know how under strain marriages generally are and every little joke or side comment can act as a hammer and a chisel chipping away at the relationship and each single comment might be completely harmless in and of itself, but you start adding them up and you start even-half believing the chauvenism or belittling that usually forms part of those jokes and it can really add to everything else that already might be there below the surface. it is just not worth it and too often words are spoken without thinking. race and disability, which also tend to be easy targets, are very sensitive issues and so will probably fall next in line for me here.

i have a saying, ‘When in doubt, don’t!’ and for the most part, i try to apply that to my humour. If saying this risks hurting someone, then the possible laugh i get is really not worth it.

[and i imagine there might be a line of people standing in front of the comments section ready to share examples of where i might have gotten it wrong and to you i deeply apologise – i am talking about my heart and intention here and am aware that i have hurt people with my humour, and i am not proud of that in any way or form]

MY STAND-UP COMEDY PULPIT

the most important thing to me in life is my faith in God which manifests in my attempts at following Jesus [who i believe was and is God] and His teachings [which, if you look at the core of them being ‘Love God, Love people’ are not quite as horrendous as the mess we christians have been able to make of them through the ages – i’m sorry! however, thankfully, that has also been the core foundation for SO MUCH GOOD that has been done in the world in terms of medicine and education and relief and so much more and so it’s a bitter sweet relationship]

so it was natural that there would be some crossover between my focus on humour and my love for God and fortunately it seemed to happen for me when someone gave me a pulpit. [to be honest i’m not a big fan of pulpits and more the metaphor of being invited to speak God things to groups of people – personally I’ll take barefoot and a stool any day].

while my desire to give stand-up comedy a go has not [yet] materialised, standing in front of a group of people in a church or at a camp, and being able to weave humour into my speaking is the closest i have gotten so far. and that has been a lot of fun.

i have a lot of respect for a guy like Mike Pilavachi who, often when he preaches, does 90% stand-up comedy material involving stories from the Bible or his own life and then finishes off with 10% of point which just nails you between the eyes and often is a lot more powerful as a preach than some people who do a forty minute exegesis.

i don’t think i’m quite there, but i do have three jokes i invented, which have helped along the way, as well as a stuffed yellow-and-white dolphin called No_bob who i often take with me to preaching gigs.

Let’s be honest – most jokes we tell and even the majority of analogies – are things we heard from someone else and are just recycling them and maybe adding a bit of a twist to them, but for the most part a lot of talk material at some stage belonged to someone else. i do that shamelessly [and openly] – if i hear a great analogy about something then i often will incorporate it into my talk and if i do the talk enough times then eventually it will start to feel like it was my analogy in the first place. fortunately, we’re in the business of getting the message across and not so much of claiming fame for whichever parts of the message felt like they were made up by me.

The ‘No_bob factor’ is an interesting one and really helps give a deeper glimpse into the type of humour that i have [which i feel is quite eclectic and ranges from Jim Carrey to Monty Python to Jack Handey to Parks and Rec and even touches on moments from Naked Gun and Bob Newhart and The Mighty Boosh and Flights of the Conchord] – for the most part i would probably lean towards British and a more subtle, dry humour but i do like a lot of bits of everything and so it is hard to tie down. BUT i do enjoy what i call ‘The Higher Grade’ joke and what that means is rather than the joke which everyone in the room finds funny, i prefer the joke that maybe only four or five people will get and especially if there is a pause for a few seconds [often when someone is explaining the joke to their neighbour] and then the laugh comes. In TheatreSports that is my favourite laugh of all.

Let me give you an example. We play a game called ‘Accent Rollercoaster’ in which the actors play out a scene and at different points the MC will call out different accents [provided by the audience before the game begins] and the same story will carry on, but the accent will change. An easy laugh that everyone gets is anytime the accent changes to ‘Xhosa’ and one of the actors says ‘Eish’ or it changes to Russian and someone asks for or mentions ‘vodka’ – instant laugh, but an easy one. And satisfying because it’s a laugh, but what i prefer even above that is a subtle pun or a misdirection where you lead the audience to a really obvious place and then don’t go there. For example, when you are singing a song and you rhyme heavily through out the song and the last two lines you set up the most obvious rhyme:

They were looking for a pilot so they grabbed a poor baboon

then they stuck him in the spaceship and they sent him to the…

The next word is ‘moon’ right? And if i sing ‘moon’ the audience will be impressed because i just made up a silly song and made it rhyme all on the spot, but for me in that moment i will generally go for the misdirection, put huge emphasis on the first rhyming word and then go for the twist, as in:

They were looking for a pilot so they grabbed a poor babOON

then they stuck him in the spaceship and they sent him to the Space Station…

For me it is a cleverer laugh. Possibly the best example of that [and REALLY hard to do but I’ve got it once or twice] is in that game, ‘Jonathan’s Lisp’ i mentioned before where all of one consonant in a scene has become another consonant… if you are really quick and clever and able to think fast while still concentrating on the scene that is happening around you, then there is the possibility of saying a sentence that makes sense both with the old letter and the new letter… and you really have to see it to understand how ridiculously amazing it is when it works but say for example all ‘B’s have become ‘C’s and you are doing a murder mystery and as the detective you announce that:

Aha, I have solved the mystery by looking at all the blues [clues]. The murderer killed him with a Cat [bat].

It actually worked twice in that sentence, but the ridiculousness of killing someone with a cat and then as the audience there is that moment when you are realising, ‘wait all C’s are B’s’ so he actually meant ‘killed him with a bat’ and it’s a double whammy. That is what i mean when i talk to higher grade humour. For me misdirection and a double joke are up there. And because it is so complex, you might find that everyone laughs at the sentence, but a few seconds later you get the people who saw the double joke and there will be the follow up laugh. That for me is priceless.

Introducing No_bob [because he doesn’t!]

Which brings us back to the ‘No_bob’ factor – the original reason i started taking No_bob to talks with me was partly cos i thought it was a cool gimmick, but largely and more intentionally it was as an reaction to the idea of ‘the big man of God speaker on the stage with power and authority’ – i never wanted to become that [see your typical tv evangelist for a great bad example of what i’m referring to]and so i thought to myself, well if i arrive on stage carrying a stuffed toy dolphin, then if anyone in the audience is challenged or changed by anything i say, they are going to attribute it to God rather than ‘that weirdo with the dolphin’ and so this is a way of helping keep the focus off me. The great thing about introducing No_bob is that generally the most i get out of it is a groan [occasionally a laugh and more so as I’ve added the word ‘bob’ to the explanation, where before i used to just say ‘i call him that because he doesn’t’ and a lot of people didn’t make the connection] and then later [the second time i speak or a future occasion] he has become this celebrity dolphin and that is when it kicks in – for most of the first times of using him, i just get weird looks but i’m in it for the long haul and so i continue – i feel like the introduction of a stuffed dolphin at the start of a Christian talk also helps people relax a bit and be open to what might follow.

And it is a true story – i won No_bob on the pier at Brighton by throwing yellow balls into holes and my wooden dolphin ‘swam’ faster than all the other ones and so i won him. I wanted to call him ‘Bob’ because i really liked the name [based on a Rowan Atkinson ‘Blackadder’ sketch where a girl is pretending to be a boy in Victorian England because girls aren’t allowed to work and Blackadder meets ‘him’ and asks his name:

[Blackadder]: What’s your name, boy?

[girl]: Kate.

[Blackadder]: Isn’t that a bit of a… girl’s name?

[girl] It’s er, um, short… for Bob.

Brilliant. But there seemed to be a lot of people or things being named ‘Bob’ at the time so i decided to switch it up a little and because my dolphin is made of material, i realised that if you threw him in an ocean he would not ‘bob’ but sink and so ‘No_bob’ was christened.

So introducing No_bob became a staple to a lot of my talks… and then there were my three made-up jokes [which, i remind you, is rare, cos most often we just steal other peoples’ much better jokes]:

# The first one is my fake testimony, which i know works well with older [middle-aged and above] audiences and yet i keep falling into the trap of telling it to younger audiences and getting pity looks or groans. But older people tend to laugh at more stuff and so this works well in church audiences and bigger crowds:

I was born into and raised by a family of lions. [in fact that is usually the moment that gets a laugh for some reason and so sometimes i will add a ‘it could happen – we all read Jungle Book – which is maybe why it doesn’t work so well for younger audiences, who haven’t!] Then one day i became a christian and God took away my pride! [drum roll]

# The second joke is my ‘The tie joke’ which i am ever so proud of as i came up with it in matric [grade 12] and it generally goes down really well, especially when people know me a little, and has gotten the biggest laughs [and sometimes groans and often a mixture of the two] and it has morphed and grown and evolved through time and i can’t tell it here because it is a visual gag and i usually save it for the last talk on a weekend camp where i have built up a bit of a rapport with the audience. But i made it up and it is quite funny [often, especially the bits i have added in] and other people have copied it and performed it which is the absolute compliment for a joke.

# The third one is my bilingual joke which only works for a very small audience who understand [or have some understanding of] both Afrikaans and French [you know, that huge set of people] but i will try it on you anyways and the bonus is that it is a Knock Knock joke that is genuinely fun or funny [as most of them aren’t, although three are!]

So you have to respond in Afrikaans [maybe Dutch?]

Me: Klop Klop

You: Wie’s daar? [Who is there]

Me: Cellar 

You: Celler wie? [Say this out loud and the French understanding of you will get it]

I think i enjoy that one just cos it’s more nice than funny. It’s just such an aaaahhhhhhhhh joke.

I did recently invent a fourth joke which i think was quite funny, but for the life of me i can’t remember at all what it was, so i am going to have to stick with three unless it comes back.

So armed with my three made-up jokes, my No_bob intro and then often one of the smurf joke [which involves stutter smurf and so is one of those do i or don’t i jokes although everyone i have met who stutters absolutely loves it], the meat hanging from the ceiling[more groan than laugh – the steaks/stakes are too high – so pretty lame pun but works on the young] or my dog “true story” joke [ ‘i,m going to have to put your dog down’ – ‘you’re going to put my dog down just because he’s cross-eyed? –  ‘No sir, he’s just getting really heavy’] which can go either way but i don’t tell it so much any more since i made some people cry the one time by being so convincing in the first half of the telling of the joke [and then they got mad with me] i usually have a good entry point into a message.

my messages tend to be more 10% humour up front and then 90% seriousish with humour moments scattered along the way as i do the thing i think i am more gifted at, which is reading the crowd and improvising humour lines or adding to moments and happenings that present themselves. so generally people end up being entertained but also challenged or convicted or encouraged if all goes well.

i really do think the difference between actual stand-up and my preaching which many might describe as stand-up-esque is the fact that with the preaching i have a base idea of the story i am trying to tell whereas i have not been able to figure that out as far as the stand-up is concerned.

and i am still not done… this is starting to feel like a bit of an autobiography and i imagine the length of it has lost a lot of people, but i am enjoying writing about this stuff, and perhaps glimpsing into my own soul, and so i will see it to its end, which i really do imagine will be the next part – i think we only have silly videos, one liners and trying to get a Valerie laugh to go…

but thanks for reading, if you have, i appreciate it.

[the truth about the fame of No_bob, who had a song written about him by a really popular band back in the day called Serving Suggestion which audiences loved, is that on two occasions i went to speak somewhere and i was introduced and maybe 5 to 15 people clapped or registered some kind of ‘oh, Brett Anderson, i’ve heard of him’ response [in a room of well over 150 people] and then i got up to speak and as i pulled No_bob out of my pocked a third or more of the room erupted in applause – that’s when you know!]

‘Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.’ [Terry Pratchett]

so one of my favourite funny people in life is a guy called Jack Handey who used to write one liners that were used on SNL such as:

“Whenever you read a good book, it’s like the author is right there, in the room, talking to you, which is why I don’t like to read good books.” [Jack Handey]

and:

“Laurie got offended that I used the word “puke.” But to me, that’s what her dinner tasted like.”
[Jack Handey]

or even:

“It’s too bad that whole families have to be torn apart by something as simple as wild dogs.” [Jack Handey]

some random, some funny, some randomly funny, some just clever and i really dig most of them. So much so that i decided that it is time for me to reach deep within my misdirected randomised humour machine and see if there is anything lurking there that might make people smile or gently laugh and hopefully even one day create a legitimate laughing out loud experience [milk or coke out the nose and i’ll have arrived!]

so i’ve started writing some brett [my first name] andy’s [shortened form of my last name, to avoid being sued] and i’m keen to have some feedback… this is my second list of brett andy’s to assess and i would appreciate it if you could read through them and highlight which ones you think really work and which your funniest one or two are [one of them i think is really horrible but overall i think as a whole they’re better than my first list]

“I wonder if Bono would have mixed reactions today if he stumbled upon that misplaced item from the past because, yes, I finally have found it after all these years, but the song has gotten pretty big.” [brett andy]

“It really messes with my mind that I’ve got memories of the last time I had amnesia.” [brett andy]

“Slinkies, the series ‘Friends’, Facebook, Terry Pratchett, microwaved chocolate, Johnny Depp, tall wild mochas, Survivor, polaroid sunglasses and astro hockey have all come into existence since the initial dividing up of our bread into toastable pieces. All I’m saying is, it’s high time we update that saying.” [brett andy]

“I sometimes wonder if the very first accident actually involved an axe and the groove that was formed in some surface due to the mindlessly casual swinging thereof.” [brett andy]

“I don’t understand why I have so much bellybutton fluff. I guess I’ve just been incredibly lucky cos I only really started collecting seriously a couple of months ago.” [brett andy]

“I really hate how Coffee keeps me up every night. Why my neighbour had to call his german shepherd that, I don’t think I’ll ever understand.” [brett andy]

“I wonder who the first person was who said, “Hey, why don’t we push a stick through a marshmallow and hold it over the flames and then eat it once it’s melted in the middle,” because that didn’t turn out so badly, did it?” [brett andy]

“I did a search for Spiderman on the web the other day.” [brett andy]

“A mare is simply an adult female horse. I’m just not sure why seeing them after the sun has gone down is so scary.” [brett andy]

“Walking underneath a ladder, after breaking a mirror, is considered to bring you extreme bad luck, especially when there are vicious snarling black cats, that haven’t been fed for a week, standing on every single one of the steps of that ladder. Oh, and also you’re a mouse.” [brett andy]

and another guest Mjandey from MJ:

“The problem with having female tribal leaders is that everyone would always try and make a pun out of Ms. Chief.” [Mjandey]

[to go straight to next page of brett andy’s click here]

so the writing is going pretty well – not sure i’ll be finishing this week but have definitely taken some huge strides forward [thankx big time to Garth Croftbro who reviewed the first part of it really hectically and gave me a lot of great stuff to work with] so thankx to everyone praying towards that…

i did make time to record my second audio thort and you can find it here – http://brettfish.tumblr.com/ – still trying to figure out the whole podcasting system so will be a while before it runs a little more smoothly but if you get a chance and can listen and give some feedback that will be muchly appreciated

much love
b

so in exactly one week’s time i will have been married to the beautiful Val for exactly one year – and what a year it’s been!

as i say often to people – ‘marriage is highly recommended… to the right person!’ and the ‘to the right person’ bit is the key – not cos i believe in any kind of God-brings-this-person-and-that-person-together necessarily or that i believe that there is only one ‘the one’ as opposed to a number of ‘the potential ones who could be the one’ but because i have experienced or witnessed both

i have some friends who have hurt or are hurting a lot because they dated or got engaged to or even married the person who ended up not being a good match for them – and i have some friends (and myself) who by the grace of God managed to somehow end up with someone who is a the-one match for them (cos history knows i tried my best to work it otherwise on occasion, or so it would seem looking back)

having been married for one week less than a year i can declare with absolute abandon and complete integrity that marriage works – it is incredible – it is a journey and an adventure and an absolute trip… but not without adding ‘to the right person’

because it is also a tough path at times (inevitably you are going to end up hurting – or being hurt by – or disappointing or miscommunicating with the one you love and having a moment or an argument or even – gasp! – a fight – and that completely sucks, cos this is the person you love most in the world and you hate hurting or being hurt by them – the pain is deeper because the bond is so strong)

it is a journey requiring effort and sacrifice and surrender – which we as selfish and prideful human beings really struggle to embrace, especially having grown up in a world constantly screaming the mantra ‘this is all about me’ – and the trick in marriage is really embracing the effort and the sacrifice and surrender and continuing to try and get it right in lifting the other person up above yourself (the beauty is that if she is doing the same thing then we continue to be as lifted up as if we were focusing on ourselves, but with the added benefit of relationship)

it is a path of discovery (new person in my life, new habits, new quirks, new likes and dislikes) – of hey we both find this extremely funny and wow we’re pretty good working alongside each other in the kitchen (which both our families would question in pre-marriage times) and hey she really digs it when i do this and i am so glad that she has chosen to do that chore so i don’t have to and i can do this which she absolutely hated to have to do

it is a choice – day in day out – every single day i have to wake up and choose again – choose the beautiful val over the not so beautiful brett (especially on my bad, lazy, selfish, overcompetitive, procrastinationary, grumpy, i’m right days) – choose to live out those five pages of wedding day vows – promises i make again every day, every day

so whether it’s coffee in bed (one of the highlights of my day – being able to make it for my wife and greet her with a morning kiss) or flapjacks made with packet waffle mix (better than the packet flapjack mix strangely) or scrubs/I.T. crowd/ or Summer Heights High or Eddie Izzard/Michael Mcintyre/Bill Bailey or p.d.a. facebook statuses (within reason) or tag teaming together in a counselling situation or lying together at night solving all the mysteries of the world (or at least our day) or laughing together (a lot! one of the highlights and if you can’t laugh with your person then i seriously think they are probably not a ‘the one’) and private jokes and scrabble or kucky san or trying to lose gracefully at settlers or her asking me random (to me but thoroughly interested and trying to figure out how the world works to her) questions about things i can’t possibly know and woolworths prawn cocktail chips and Terry Pratchett passages and mielies and marshmallow steri stumpies (for her) and purple and that elusive couch (and wedding photos) and dream league cricket and watching her get passionate about justice and not letting us not help people in need and getting to really know her better and totally speak what she is thinking or really meaning and and and

thank you tbV for almost a year of incredible journey – it grows daily – i love you very much and am looking to an even kicker asser year ahead – you really do complete me (you and God)

note to single people: enjoy, thrive, live to the full, desire your ‘the one’ but don’t let it consume you – make the most of the time and freedom you have as a single person and be content in every area of your life (while continuing to keep your eyes open and to ask God and to want that person if you do)

note to dating people: enjoy, thrive, live to the full, don’t live as married people yet cos you’re not and save the stuff for marriage for the person you marry (which may not end up being the person you are dating now so don’t waste it on them now cos it seriously will be a waste if they turn out not to be that person), enjoy each other but keep it uncomplicated and grow in relationship to see if this is your one and part peacefully if not

note to married people: enjoy, thrive, live to the full, husbands, love your wives, uplift each other, keep private stuff private, never diss your spouse (even in jest) in front of others, especially not just for a cheap laugh, if you’re struggling ask for help, choose every morning to serve and lift up and that-person-first and kill selfishness and pride whenever it rears its head, run to say sorry when you have been wrong, don’t ever go to bed angry or fighting, don’t give up, don’t feed temptation, love each other, let’s fight together for marriage – it works, it’s incredible, it costs, it’s worth it!

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