Saturday, 31 October 2015
Was my face red
Someone falling into a pond, denting the car, dyeing everything purple in the wash. Someone delivering the wrong speech, catching the wrong train, going to the wrong funeral. Isn't laughter a spontaneous reaction to the unforeseen?
Naturally I sympathise as well. I feel for the person who's messed up, especially if it's a friend or someone I admire. I know how I would feel in the same situation. Thoroughly embarrassed and angry with myself. I wouldn't appreciate the laughter one bit.
But I usually end up laughing at myself, once the dust has settled and the initial embarrassment has faded. A week later I'll be chuckling as I tell the story to someone else, painting a vivid picture of my idiocy or absent-mindedness.
Of course I'm not talking about blunders that lead to severe injury or death. They have to be treated with the seriousness they deserve. But a politician struggling with an over-filled bacon sandwich? Who could fail to be amused?
Mishaps are especially funny if they happen to someone who's normally the soul of rectitude - pompous, strait-laced, sanctimonious. When they come a cropper like anyone else, it's delicious. I remember when a particularly loathsome boss had his house burgled. When the staff heard about it, they could hardly stop laughing. It was such a wonderful come-uppance.
The richly ironic gaffes are comical too. Like the gay-bashing politician caught in bed with a rent boy. Or the "happily-married" vicar whose secret mistress goes public. The ultimate futility of such strenuous pretence can only be relished.
How dull life would be without the endless joys of human error.