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Tonight I’m going to a free Zumba class. For a tall lass with lanky arms and legs, this could be quite a humiliating experience. How does one dance again?

I think the hips are supposed to be slightly separated from the torso! They wiggle and flap…I guess (depending on how much extra luggage you’re carrying down there). Then there are the steps. For feet as big as mine it takes twice as long for them to carry out these fast paced movements, so I have to work twice as hard. Kudos, Emma! The arms have a role too, I hear. No flabby arms for Zumbanians! So do they swing or strut or pose? And how on earth do I put the three together and look good at the same time? Impossible!

Over the past ten or so years I have resorted to silly dancing. Because ultimately that’s what I look best doing. Having kids makes it easier to get away with such ridiculous moves. They join in and you have yourself a decent and funny kind of dance party. No judgement, just giggles and great beats. Silly dancing involves pulling crazy faces, large movements and a little bit of slapstick. The bigger the better. Nothing beats the sound of my kids wetting themselves laughing over something awesomely funny that I’m doing. I don’t really care what anyone else thinks as long as they’re amused.

But then there’s public dancing. Now silly dancing is ok in public if you have a fun group of friends around you who will laugh at you in love or join in themselves. However, if your friends are dull and easily embarrassed, stick to the occasional clapping of hands and the side-to-side foot movement with a mildly amused look on your face. Or just sit and have a drink and watch the professionals do their thing.

When it comes to ‘exercise dancing’ such as Zumba, there’s nothing for it except tears of laughter and a touch of the silly. Wiggling the bottom, c’mon, that’s funny. I hope there’s no belly dancing component. In the end I just want to do something that is exercise without realising it’s exercise. More fun than pain and Zumba seems like the perfect option.

Love the laugh!!!! Get the picture?

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Image by Böhringer Friedrich

I tried to laugh, I promise! I sat there, waiting to hold my aching sides as I laughed my adorable head off! But it never came. I gave the occasional polite laugh, a little fake, but I wanted to feel hip and cool and like I actually had a sense of humour. But I failed.

Last night I watch the Mel Brooks (hang your head in shame, Emma) film sensation (apparently) Silent Movie. It was referenced in my beloved Gilmore Girls so I thought I’d be a bit ‘Lorelai’ and watch this cool, classic film but it was a little slow. Mel seemed to try really hard to be funny. It was like I was reading ‘Slapstick For Dummies’. Beautiful girl gets offended at weird looking man hitting on her: TICK; massive amount of people exiting lift: TICK; fat man eats all chocolate in gift box: TICK.

And then there were all the ‘stars’ that made an appearance, like Brooks was saying, “Look who I know!” I love you Brooksie but I was disappointed. I even had to watch the second half in fast forward to find out what happened. The wheelchair race with Paul Newman was actually funnier in fast forward.

I don’t know what it is with humour from the past. Perhaps it’s a generational thing. Would I have laughed if I was watching Silent Movie in a 1976 cinema? Am I too sophisticated or not sophisticated enough? Have our comedic palates changed over time? Have I lost my funny bone, what if I don’t find anything funny ever again?

You see, Monty Python is ok, a little creepy at times, a little silly but sometimes amusing. I don’t really like Chevy Chase and Steve Martin is over-the-top. Adam Sandler has lost the plot, employing all his friends in semi-funny films relying on fart and sex jokes -meh! Jim Carey has gone all ‘serious actor’ on us and done quite a stirling job, actually but are his funny days over too? Mike Myers has probably retired to the swamp, Lesley Nielsen has died and Dan Ackroyd has lost his ghostly shine.

I love the 80’s comedy classics, but I think it’s more out of nostalgia. It seems the only films that make me laugh these days are the foreign ones (I love you Amelie and Life is Beautiful). Ultimately, retro funny is fun. That is all. I need to lower my expectations and laugh-o-metre and simply enjoy them for what they are and the times they represent.

Charlie Chaplin Slapstick man

Classic Politically Incorrect Comedy

Slapstick is my favourite form of ‘funny’. Oh the laughs we have shared. The term ‘slapstick’, according to wikipedia.com, comes from a bat that was used to make a ‘whack’ sound. When the actor was hit with this prop, the noise made the hit seem worse than it really was. This was one of the earliest forms of special effects. Fascinating.

That is what makes slapstick so funny. If people are actually hurt during the performance, then it would be immoral to laugh. But slapstick gives us the freedom to laugh at people hurting themselves, knowing full well that they’re not really in any danger.

One variant on the slapstick genre toys with the immoral side. You shouldn’t laugh, you don’t want to laugh, but there you are laughing. It is when real people are being used for comedy such as in Borat or The Chaser’s War on Everything that the ethical line becomes blurry. There was a scene on The Chaser where they were talking about discrimination in the community against people who wore wearing balaclavas. They walked into various shops wearing ski masks and people freaked out. One lady hid under a desk, another ran to the safety of a cage at the back of the store. I’m sorry, but I could not stop laughing. (My mother on the other hand was appalled.).

There is the humour of Steve Coogan, where he sets up a fictional reality. You think they are real people being taken for a ride, but actually (phew) they are all actors. Still, it is painful to watch.

Alan Partridge "A HA"

Oh how I have fallen in love with politically incorrect humour: Arrested Development is particularly naughty. This television series messes with the ridiculously rich and makes you feel like your family is normal in comparison. They say the unspeakable and do the unthinkable.

I like to ride on the wild side of comedy. I like the controversial, the bravado, the insanity of it all. I do have my limits. I don’t like seeing people hurt or embarrassed unless it is really, really funny and the funny overwhelms my conscience.

Thank you slapstick. Thank you slightly immoral comedy. Thank you politically incorrect humour. You funny up my life.

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