Wednesday, 28 October 2015

You have to laugh

A tricky thing, a sense of humour. You have to be careful how you use it. It can lighten the mood and cement a friendship. Or it can so seriously offend someone they never want to speak to you again.

As you know, I have a well-developed sense of humour which I apply to the most unlikely situations. I see the funny side of everything, no matter how grim or disastrous, and I often have to restrain myself to avoid causing offence to someone in a highly sensitive state who absolutely doesn't see a shred of humour in what's happening.

Mind you, sometimes people are too over-sensitive, ready to take offence at just about anything, and then however carefully I tread I can still prompt horrified glances and stony silences.

Some subjects are a complete humorous no-no unless you know your companions very well and are confident they'll take the joke in the spirit it was intended. If not, then keep well away from religion, disability, transgender, death, abortion, terminal illness, or anything where there's the slightest hint of condemnation, callousness or sheer ignorance. Your flippant witticisms will not in any way be appreciated.

I think it's often assumed that because I'm joking about something deadly serious, I have no sympathy or concern for people who're facing hellish experiences and hardly know if they're coming or going. On the contrary, I have huge sympathy but every situation has its comical side, however macabre or grotesque, and I can't help noticing it. Gallows humour, anyone?

If someone at my own graveside suddenly saw the funny side of my departure from planet earth and couldn't help tittering uncontrollably, I wouldn't object. I'd rather that than a pall of gloom and misery.

Of course a sense of humour can sometimes be used as a defence against the shocking reality of a situation, a way of blotting things out and not letting your feelings overwhelm you. But perhaps that's okay as well if it enables you to process your emotions in your own good time.

By the way, did you hear the one about the undertaker and the gravedigger?


  1. Humour can save most difficult situations but I agree it has to be used appropriately.
    Good Nurses use it all of the time and black humour amongst nurses " after work" is notorious bleak and cutting
    Its a way of coping

  2. John: Yes, I've heard about nurse and doctor humour. Well, if you didn't joke occasionally, you'd surely go mad with the stress and responsibility.

  3. I always thought you were pretty serious. I must be wrong.

  4. I was thinking the same thing as Susie! Nick doesn't come across as light-hearted and full of mirth on his blog.

  5. Susie: Ah, that's the thing. I am pretty serious most of the time, but I'm also privately enjoying the jocular side of everything. You won't have seen all the spoof blog posts I used to do - Esme Plunge, the clairvoyant; Melissa Flinch, the psychotherapist; Tanzi Twitch, the modern artist; Swami Korianda Arjibarji Kolostomi Roshi, the illustrious guru. Perhaps I should revisit them....

  6. bob's surgeon apparently had never run into bob's type of humor before.
    he had cancer of the esophagus. just like humphrey bogart.
    they operated on him for 6 hours and 45 minutes.
    they took half of his stomach to rebuild the part of his esophagus that they'd removed.
    i had started us on a health regime well before we even knew he had cancer. i cooked everything from scratch!
    lots of fresh fruits and veggies. NO SUGAR. we were jogging every day.
    the surgeon said...
    "bob you came through the surgery with flying colors. your vitals signs stayed amazing for such a long surgery."
    bob groggily replied...
    "i know. i'm in great shape for somebody with cancer!"
    that's my boy.
    that's the kind of humor he had.
    and it was wonderful.
    i hope i would have the same given that situation.
    we literally laughed our way through 16 wonderful years of marriage.
    but you're right. it can be a slippery slope with some people.
    they just wouldn't get it.

  7. Bijoux: See my reply to Susie! I love The Onion and Sarah Silverman and Ellen DeGeneres. I love satire of all kinds. It looks like I need to lighten up a bit, or all you folks out there will have entirely the wrong impression of me.

  8. Tammy: That sounds like a great relationship. Jenny and I are always joshing around as well. I'm sure if I had cancer I'd be cracking jokes about it. I sure as hell wouldn't be sitting around like Misery Central.

  9. Humour is often a defence against the terrible. I think that it's fine so long as it doesn't distress someone who might have just been bereaved, or something like that. But that is more a matter of consideration than humour, isn't it, and I feel from your other posts, that you would be sensitive in that situation.

  10. Jenny: Don't worry, I keep my sense of humour well in check if there's any possibility of someone not appreciating it. I'm not one of those compulsive wise-crack types who's oblivious to the negative reaction they're getting.

  11. Excellent post. Exactly how I feel, I could have written that, if I was literate enough.

    I frequently put my foot in it, as the saying goes. I have offended numerous bloggers who didn't realise my comments were just lighted hearted humour.

    Look at the "Aside:" on my latest post on my blog, there will be somebody somewhere who actually believes it to be true!

  12. I laughed at my mother's funeral, not that I didn't cry a lot too. It's just something happened that cracked me up. We were sitting, following my Catholic sister's lead, when everyone behind us was standing. I was aware of it but figured it would be okay if our whole row did the same thing. Then Andy couldn't take it and said he was going to stand up too and did. Then the rest of us in the row popped up at different times, and it reminded me of popcorn. My mother would have laughed too, and it made me feel especially close to her.

  13. I often see the funny side "afterwards"... or I want to go and "slap someone" - quite common in my personal world of health/disability when people cannot "get it" -

  14. Keith: I've sometimes taken you seriously myself - you have a certain dead-pan approach which fools me completely. I find my own dead-pan approach can mislead people in the same way.

    Hard to see how your "aside" could be taken as a true story!

  15. Jean: I'm not surprised you were amused by the image of popcorn, I think that would have tickled me as well. That whole "should I stand up, should I sit down?" thing is amusing in itself.

    Cedar: I know what you mean about having a disability and people not "getting it". My sister has had MND for around ten years and gets some very dim-witted responses from people.

  16. I've been reading you a long time and would have said you didn't have much of a sense of humour.

    By sense of humour my definition would be poking fun at yourself rather than using the second person singular or other personae.



  17. www: How very interesting, the unexpected impression that others form of me! I have an irrepressible sense of humour, yet nobody realises, you all see me as dead serious. Clearly I'm keeping such a tight lid on it, in case of offence, that it's vanished entirely from public view. I'll have to correct this crazy misconception.

    Ooh, and I'm being ticked off for using "you"!

    I'm very happy to poke fun at myself, there's plenty to poke fun at. I can be slow-witted, gullible, obsessive, nit-picking, there's loads of raw material. I'll bear it in mind for my next blog post....

  18. Your post makes interesting reading, Nick.

    However, I am with Susie, Bijoux and WWW. I can't see the humour in your blog. I see someone deeply troubled - and that's ok (ok for the reader, obviously not ok for you). What is definitely not ok is to rubber stamp those who (apparently) don't "get" you and your "sense of humour" as humourless.When entering the hinterland of "humour" we are treading a very fine line.

    Some of your readers, say Tammy, will gush over you. I now don't take her opinions seriously any longer. She could praise me to the hilt it wouldn't mean a thing to me. Empty. Hot air.

    Not so odd that that is where Grannymar comes into her own. As you know she is not exactly a fan of mine (understatement). Yet she does have a fine line on you. One I admire in being measured without committing herself one way or another. Of course, she has met you in the flesh as it were, and may see nuances lost on your readership. Neither is she a fool.

    Main thing, Nick, and by way of comfort, you have managed to capture the affection and loyalty of a diverse readership. That is quite something. On which note, one piece of advice: Try not to put yourself down so much. A most unattractive trait. And one I wish I could help you with.


  19. As I've said before, I enjoy your posts, Nick, but I don't appreciate Ursula attacking a dear friend of mine. There's a lot more to that friend than just hot air. She's one of the bravest people I know, remaining upbeat in spite of all she has dealt with in her life, and is dealing with now. Bless the internet for letting us make contact.

  20. Ursula: You're misinterpreting me again. I never said that anyone who doesn't get my sense of humour is humourless. They may be permanently doubled up with laughter for all I know.

    I wouldn't say Tammy gushes. She's obviously enthusiastic about a lot of things, but that isn't the same thing at all. Better bubbly enthusiasm than grudging appreciation (or dislike).

    Grannymar has indeed met me in the flesh, though I don't recall being especially humorous on those occasions. So she probably also sees me as dead serious.

    Deeply troubled is about right (like many other people), but I soldier on valiantly. I'll try not to put myself down but poke fun at myself instead.

  21. Jean: We all know by now that Ursula likes to put the boot in at every opportunity, and frequently sneers at any positive personal traits. Deeply troubled perhaps?

  22. Jean aka Cheeful Monk, I am not attacking a "dear friend" of yours. I am stating a fact.


  23. Nick, you, the one full of "homour", really doesn't get it. Do you?

    "Ursula likes to put the boot in at every opportunity". Did you actually read my comment, the one about affection and loyalty? Or are you on some sort of mindless auto cue regardless?

    It's ok. Since you perceive me as "frequently sneers at any positive personal traits" I shall leave it here. Wallow in your humour. And whilst you are at it try and give people some "credit" as to their take of the world and you. Boot? Ok. You are self absorbed to the point of being insufferable.


  24. Ursula: Stating a fact? So why do your comments invariably come across as personal attacks?

    You have a very strange way of showing affection and loyalty. One that usually involves fierce criticism and disparagement.

    Self-absorbed to the point of being insufferable? All I can say is, you must enjoy the self-absorption (if that it is), as you keep coming back for more.

    So that's me identified then - self-absorbed, no sense of humour, never pokes fun at himself, puts himself down, deeply troubled. A psychological disaster area, evidently.

  25. "Empty. Hot air." Get real, Ursula, they are your negative opinions, not facts. Yay, tammy! Yay, Nick! Those are my opinions.

    Thanks again, Nick, for this blog.

  26. You are blessed. And so am I. On this trait, we could be doppelgangers for each other.

  27. Ramana: I've always suspected you have a wicked sense of humour on the quiet, but like me you're careful not to exercise it at an inappropriate moment.