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Buster Keaton in Sherlock Jr., 1924

December 7, 2009

Light up your life with laughter

You’ll notice a fair amount of humour in this blog site, most of it borrowed, all duly attributed, my own very little, if any. It will pop up when you least expect it, between serious posts, in the sidebars, on film posters, and covers of books and comics. It will make you smile, even laugh out loud, and hopefully light up your day.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a sense of humour (trust me we all do), you can still be spirited enough to enjoy a good laugh, and infect others with it. It is arguably the most soothing therapy for a troubled mind, body and soul. Medical practitioners swear by it. Like Mahatma Gandhi said, “If I had no sense of humour, I would long ago have committed suicide.” And look what he achieved.

Likewise, if I had no sense of humour, I wouldn’t be writing this. If you had no sense of humour, you would still be reading it!

In the last century our great-grandparents, grandparents and parents lived through tumultuous times, through World War I, deadly disease, the Great Depression, colonialism, the Holocaust, World War II, famine…dark periods in their lives when a sense of humour must have been their one saving grace.

In this century we are living in equally troubled times, in the throes of a near World War III—terrorism, ethnic conflicts, water wars, disease, recession, depression, climate change, corrupt rulers, apathy, poverty...dark periods in our lives when a sense of humour is still our one saving grace.

I consider steady humour and steadfast faith to be the two solid rocks of life. You need the first to poke fun at yourself and the world; you need the second to stop God from poking fun at you.

If you’re an Indian and living in India, you need more than plain humour, you also need stupid tolerance, to see you through just about everything. Still, we are better off than poor folks in war-torn Sudan and Congo where life has become a joke. Nobody’s laughing.

Asking people to smile or laugh in the midst of severe adversity is being downright rude and insensitive not to mention offensive. Under most circumstances, though, we can make a habit out of practicing humour and rendering life, both yours and mine, a lot more worthwhile.

I am not going to give you tips you don’t already know—the laws of humour and laughter are really quite simple. Each of us have our own "laughter is the best medicine" credo.

At home, my wife and kids and I watch American and British sitcoms during “happy hours” on most weekdays. Laugh-a-minute sitcoms like My Wife and Kids, Mind Your Language, Caroline in the City, Everybody Loves Raymond, Becker, Just Shoot Me, Two and a Half Men, and even Friends are fun to watch. Singly or collectively, they help you to unwind.

A few days ago, we picked up a DVD of the hilarious old British sitcom Are You Being Served? [see picture on right] broadcast on Doordarshan, the government-run television network, in the 1980s. My 12-year old son who had never heard of the Britcom enjoyed it as well. BBC Entertainment has brought back Fawlty Towers starring a young John Cleese. Hopefully, To the Manor Born, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em and Yes Minister are on their way back too.

In the half-hour of sitcom-induced bliss, we laugh a lot and have a good time.

Likewise, watching comedy films, notably Buster Keaton, Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, The Three Stooges and Tom & Jerry, is a splendid way to ease tension and eject “dirt” out of our toxic-filled systems. It’s always handy to have a stack of these funnies at home so you can reach out for them anytime you like and bust all the stress you want.

Here's a little piece of advice: always pick comedy over horror. There's plenty of the latter going around in the world.

The same goes for books, comics and conversations…anything that makes you laugh and never want to stop laughing.
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Caption for Laurel & Hardy photo: Edgar Kennedy (right) is not amused at Laurel and Hardy's antics in the 1928 Hal Roach classic Leave 'Em Laughing.

December 2, 2009

Funny lines from funny movies...

Groucho & Chico Marx in Monkey Business (1931)
Groucho: ...Columbus was sailing along on his vessel...
Chico: On his what?
Groucho: Not on his what, on his vessel. Don't you know what "vessel" is?
Chico: Sure, I can vessel (starts whistling).

Groucho Marx in Horse Feathers (1932)
I married your mother because I wanted children. Imagine my disappointment when you arrived.

Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy in Their First Mistake (1932)
Ollie: Why did you strike that match for?
Stan: I wanted to see if the light switch was off.
Ollie: That's a good idea.

Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy in Helpmates (1932)            
Ollie: Get this house cleaned up! Do you know that my wife will be home at noon!
Stan: Say, what do you think I am? Cinderella? If I had any sense I'd walk out on you.
Ollie: Well it's a good thing you haven't any sense!
Stan: It certainly is!

Groucho Marx in A Day at the Races (1937)
Man: Are you a man or a mouse?
Groucho: Put a piece of cheese on the floor and you'll find out.

Jack Lemmon & Walter Matthau in The Odd Couple (1968)
Felix Ungar (Jack Lemmon): Funny, I haven't thought of women in weeks.
Oscar Madison (Walter Matthau): I fail to see the humour.

Robin Williams in Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
Adrian Cronauer: I can't even make fun of Richard Nixon, and there's a man who's screaming out to be made fun of.

Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Mrs. Doubtfire: My first day as a woman and I am already having hot flushes.

Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
If I'm not back in five minutes...wait longer!

Ray Romano in Ice Age (2002)
Manfred, the mammoth [to Sid, the sloth]: If you find a mate in life, you should be loyal. In your case, grateful.

Manfred [referring to Sid]: I'm still trying to get rid of the last thing I saved.

Manfred [to Sid]: Let's get something straight, ok? There's no "we". There never was a "we". In fact, without "me", there wouldn't even be a "you"!

Ray Romano & John Leguizamo in Ice Age (2002)
Manfred: Hey, he's wearing one of those baby thingies.
Sid: So?
Manfred: So, if he poops, where does it go?
Sid: (pause) Humans are disgusting.

Manfred: Check for poop.
Sid: Why am I the poop-checker?
Manfred: Because returning the runt was your idea, because you're small and insignificant, and because I'll pummel you if you don't.
Sid: (pause) Why else?
Manfred: NOW, Sid!

...And funny sitcoms too

Rowan Atkinson in Rowan Atkinson Live (TV, 1992)
As the Devil welcoming people to Hell: The French, are you here? If you'd just like to come down here with the Germans, I'm sure you'll have plenty to talk about.

Atheists? Over here please. You must be feeling a right bunch of nitwits.

Now, murderers. Murderers, over here please. Thank you. Looters and pillagers, over here. Thieves, if you could join them. And lawyers, you're in that lot.

Male adulterers, if you could just form a line in front of that small guillotine in the corner there. Fornicators, if you could step forward. My God, there are a lot of you!

And finally, Christians. Christians? Ah yes, I'm sorry. I'm afraid the Jews were right.

Okay, are there any questions? Yes? No, I'm afraid we don't have any toilets. If you had read your Bible, you might have seen it was damnation without relief!

Ray Romano & Patricia Heaton in Everybody Loves Raymond (TV, 1996-2005)
Ray Barone: You're already planning the wedding?
Debra Barone: I've been planning it since I was 12.
Ray Barone: But you didn't meet me until you were 22.
Debra Barone: Well, you're the last piece of the puzzle.

Debra Barone: I never thought I'd miss our little apartment.
Ray Barone: C'mon, that apartment was tiny and cramped and noisy.
Debra Barone: Yeah, your parents would only visit once every other month.
Ray Barone: I loved that place.
Debra Barone: Yeah, I know.

Ray Barone (after hurting his back): I guess I am going to be out of commission for a while.
Debra Barone: I wouldn't worry—it's not like Van Gogh has lost his paint brush.


The scene from Notting Hill (1999) where Hugh Grant tells Julia Roberts: "I live in Notting Hill. You live in Beverly Hills. Everyone in the world knows who you are, my mother has trouble remembering my name."