When it comes to humour I am a creature of habit. I just can’t help myself from responding to certain situations with the same jokes. When at a restaurant and my wife encourages me to give the waiter a tip, I feel an honour bound need to say 'don't polish your brown shoes with black shoe polish' or some other useful bit of advice. There are other times too when the spirit of Eric Morecombe takes over. We were on holiday with some friends and it was time to wash up. There was a certain amount of burn on some of the pans so my wife asked me if I had the scrapers. My reply? 'No, I always stand this way'. A suitable response for a variety of situations I have found. It is the same at home. When my good lady asks me to turn the dish washer on it seems only right to walk towards the machine and in a French accent say 'Hey, you sexy little dish washer, you'.
I say all this to illustrate my point that humour is a matter of opinion. You may well have groaned at what you have just read, but I would happily place money on some of you repeating these sayings when the occasion arises. I know that I am not the only one to feel compelled by such things.
My wife and I were invited by some friends to go to the cinema on the largest USA air force base in England. On arrival we found that we were the only non USA residents in attendance. After standing for the national anthem (the one with stars and stripes, not the one with God and the Queen), we sat down to watch the comedy. There were times during the next ninety minutes when the whole of the audience rolled about laughing whilst my wife and I just looked at each other in puzzlement. There were, of course, other times when the whole place was silent and just us two Brits laughed, watched by a few hundred American eyes. Much to my wife's embarrassment, there were also several times when I was the only one laughing.
Humour? What can you say? It is in the mind of the beholder. On most occasions when I tell a joke or offer a jape my wife laughs dutifully and encouragingly. My daughter's, however, tend to raise their eyes whilst making tutting noises, hoping to stave off further offerings. I am never deterred by this, partly because I just can’t help myself and partly because I am determined to make sure that we manage to see the funny side of what it means to be a human being.
I understand that not everyone thinks this way and through limited empirical research I have discovered a few categories of response to humour.
1) People who groan politely but don not wish to enter the arena of your humour.
2) People who pretend to laugh even though they don’t get the joke
3) People who never laugh at jokes because they are too clever to lower themselves. In my experience they are the first people to re-tell the joke later.
4) People who make a joke out of everything.
5) People who have a well rounded sense of humour.
6) People who have no sense of humour.
When our second daughter was about three and having a paddy about something that had upset her I told her to get a sense of humour in order to defuse the situation. With under developed speech she replied with a phrase that has been constantly repeated in the Molineaux house, 'I have got a senta nooner'.
There are times that you meet people who clearly have not got one; those who are so intense and serious about everything, including themselves. You wonder if they have ever laughed with tears running down their faces. I think not.
Some of the best humour is found in real life situations when funny things happy to normal people.
I need to go now to polish my shoes, turn the dish washer on and wiggle my glasses on my face. Give me sunshine! Get a senta nooner.