Archive for the 'Humour' Category

FANNY

12 August 2012

LANGUAGE HAS ALWAYS INTERESTED ME. A little bit of etymology can be fun and fascinating, so I thought I would share a recent discovery here. When I was a young lad, I went into the city — and on the streets of Glasgow, I heard a full-grown man being called “a wee fanny” for the first time.

It is clearly derogatory to call someone a “fanny”; no-one wants to be a fanny (even though it is unclear exactly what it is). Add to that the distinction that, on occasion, a person might be said to be acting like a fanny.

I also remember reading Enid Blyton’s “Famous Five” books, and sniggering because a character in the book was called “Aunt Fanny”. The fact that Fanny could be a person’s actual, real, Christian name was a source of great mirth to all youngsters. I recently discovered that the publishers of Blyton’s other books have replaced all the Fanny references with “Franny”!

Equally factual and funny is that North Americans call their bottoms “Fannies”. What’s all this “fanny business”?

It is is everyday common use, so I wondered where it came from — and I think I have found out where it all started: France.

The modern version of Pétanque originated in 1907 in La Ciotat, a town in the Provence region of the South of France. Petanque is a version of Boules; in Boules, players run and throw a ball, but in Pétanque, the ball is thrown from a stationary player.  It is an incredibly popular game, especially in France. The idea is for players to take turns to throw a metal ball from a distance. The winner is the boule measured as nearest the small wooden ball (cochonnet). Each score is tallied, and the first to reach 13 is the winner of the game.

[Poster of Pétanque fanny 13-nil]The legend is that, between the world wars, in France’s Savoy region, a waitress called Fanny at the Café de Grand-Lemps, was so kind-hearted that she would allow customers who had lost a game without scoring a single point to kiss her on the cheek as a consolation prize. One day the Mayor lost 13-0 and went to Fanny for the kiss on the cheek – but instead she spun round, whipped up her skirts, and offered the cheeks of her bottom!  The Mayor went ahead and kissed her bum cheeks, and ever since then this has been the tradition.

Because her name was Fanny, anyone losing a game without scoring a single point, was called a “Fanny”. Here’s an excerpt from wikipedia on the subject:

To fanny (mettre fanny in French)- To beat one’s opponents 13 to 0. The figure of a bare-bottomed lass named Fanny is ubiquitous in Provence wherever pétanque is played. It is traditional that when a player loses 13 to 0 it is said that “il est fanny” (he’s a fanny) or “il a fait fanny” (he made fanny), and that he has to kiss the bottom of a girl called Fanny. Since there is rarely an obliging Fanny’s behind handy, there is usually a substitute picture, woodcarving or pottery so that Fanny’s bottom is available. More often, the team which made “fanny” has to offer a beverage to the winning team (see the French popular expression “Fanny paie à boire !”).

To technical fanny – To beat one’s opponents by scoring 13 consecutive points without the opposition scoring anymore but having already scored. For example a team could score 12 points and the opposition could then score all 13 points and win the game with a technical fanny.

So if you get beat 13 – nil, you have to kiss a wooden bottom.  You are called “a fanny”, and as such, you have to buy a round of drinks for the winners/ everyone.

Suddenly, I understood better how the term is used as a light-hearted but derogatory term.  It’s a loser who’s lost big time.

I can see how North Americans would call buttocks, “Fannies” now — as well as references such as “ass-kissing”, “Kiss My Ass”, and desperately trying to find an “arse-covering solution” to a competitive situation one is losing. It’s not merely about losing, it’s the humiliation of scoring zero points.
LINKS:

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MIKE MYERS

17 September 2011

[Picture of Mike Myers]On the face of it Mike Myers is a comedian who has done a lot of TV, voice-overs and movies. But saying just that would be doing the man an injustice; Mike Myers is one of the most culturally significant people I can imagine.

It is staggering how much of a cultural influence Myers has had on my life — and all our lives (like it or not). Wayne’s World was the start here in the UK, although he was a TV star in the states on the extremely cool and very famous Saturday Night Live (SNL).  How can one film have so many “catchphrases”? Because of Wayne’s World, people suddenly were “blowing chunks” instead of being sick, girls were “Foxes” and “Babes”, and described as “Hot”. People still say: “Oh yes, it will be mine” in a silly voice — as well as “exsqueeze me!”.  The most infamous linguistic feature was certainly adding “Not” to the end of an assertion to negate it — “She’s a babe (not)”.

[Picture of Wayne from Wayne's World]Wayne’s World changed the world, the everyday world of the early 1990s.  People started speaking that silly Wayne’s speak —  and it remains. Wayne and Garth are archetypes now for middle class teenagers. This rock-loving age group speak in strange ways, repeating in-jokes, memes, catchphrases, stock-phrasing, triggered responses and the like. “Shwing”, and “We’re not worthy!” are context-dependent AND are accompanied with specific gestures and actions.  It is a rich and complex form of social comment and comedy.

Myers’ characters used contrived rituals and language, and referred to a lot of contemporary TV shows and films. These cultural references actually make the characters and the strange world in which they live.  There kids were good with girls, confident, and in an affluent, safe world.

These teenagers were not body-conscious, filled with fear of failure, in poverty, or at odds with authority.  There are no references to acne, masturbation, drugs, drink, bullying, careers, huffy hormonal imbalances, nocturnality, and all the other things that real teenagers are about.

Nevertheless Myers managed to get Wayne & co to come across as genuine, authentic, naïve, likeable, and even aspirational at times.

The film doesn’t date because it taps into time-honoured classic cultural memes and themes, such as Alice Cooper, Stairway To Heaven, Bohemian Rhapsody, Fender Stratocasters, Hockey, Burgers, TV, records and all the things that have targeted teenagers for decades.  Even the fashion is the same — Mackinaws, tee-shorts, jeans, converse shoes, baseball hats.

But Myers did not stop there. He came up with the deliciously mental “So I Married an Axe Murderer” — which is the greatest Scottish movie ever.

His crowning glory might be the voice of Shrek in the Pixar cartoon movies, but for me, it would probably be “Austin Powers“, “Dr Evil” and “Fat Bastard”.

[Pictures of Mike Myers in various guises]

What an influence on our every day culture — “Get out of my swamp!” (in Shrek’s voice), or “Ooo Baby” (in Austin Powers’s voice).

He’s Canadian, but seems to have cornered the market in Britishness (Charlie from So I Married an Axe Murderer, the cartoon ogre, Shrek, and Fat Bastard are all Scottish , Austin Powers and Dr Evil are English).

[Picture of Myers as Fat Bastard]People today impersonate Austin Powers, Dr Evil, Shrek, Fat Bastard, Wayne, Garth routinely — from doing the phrases, and the voices to full costume.

I cannot think of another comedian, or another human being who has had such an influence on popular culture as Mike Myers, and this is my recognition for that and personal tribute to him.

As a footnote, when I was younger, The Bangles were around the charts, and every young lad of my age fancied the pants off Susanna Hoffs. Myers plays in a band with Hoffs called Ming Tea. Myers sings as Austin Powers, Hoffs  is Jillian Shagwell, lead guitar and backing vocals. How cool is THAT?

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THE SARTRE JOKE

20 January 2011

This is one of my vary favourite jokes, even though some people don’t seem to find it funny or witty.

The French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre was sitting at a café table working. A waiter approached him

‘Can I get you something to drink, Monsieur Sartre?’ he asked.
‘Yes, I’d like a cup of coffee with sugar, but no cream’, the philosopher replied.

A few minutes later, however, the water returned and said,

‘I’m sorry, Monsieur Sartre, we are all out of cream — how about with no milk?’

What’s not to love about this?  You do not need to know who Sartre was, or what he stood-for or wrote about. The joke still works: only if the café had cream in stock, could it not serve it —  the fact that they do have milk allows them to not serve that instead  Brilliant. Maybe it’s me, but this joke tickles places in me a lot of jokes don’t reach. This joke has made me laugh again and again over the years, because jokes do that — they circulate.  I look forward to hearing it again in a few years’ time, and enjoying it all over again. Blokes are like that with jokes, especially with Monty Python.

— Of course, it is even funnier when you DO know Sartre’s Being and Nothingness and the origin of negation

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GERVAIS PODCASTS

14 October 2010

Monkey news!A mate of mine put some mp3 files on my USB flash drive — they were free podcasts of Rickey Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington from 2006.

I had some some trips in the car coming up, so I copied them onto my phone so I could listen on the journeys.

During the Monkey News about the monkey going into space, I completely lost it, and had to pull over to the hard shoulder as I couldn’t drive for tears of laughter.  It took me some time to recover.

How could I have missed this? 2006? Good grief.

Oddly enough, I managed to catch an animation on TV the other day that seems to have been made from these old podcasts — and I tracked down the space Monkey News episode on YouTube:

[embedded videoclip from YouTube.com of Monkey News’ Space Chimp]

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHPgCdGhbng&]

Merchant Pilkington GervaisI have to say that I found the audio-only very funny, and less-so for the animation, but I like what the animation brings (I wonder if I had seen/ heard the animation first, if I would have preferred that to sound-only).  There’s a very interesting and insightful article on the making of the cartoon at awn.com/articles. I must say the characters in the cartoon as superb!

There are signs up for “An Idiot Abroad”, so Karl Pilkington is a star in his own right, I guess.  Anyway, I have been working my way through these podcasts, and they are superb!  I always get a big laugh somewhere along the line, and time flashes by.  I recommend them to everyone who needs cheered up.

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TWISTED TONGUES

13 July 2010

I was watching a video clip over lunch  in the office.  It was a US American TV news interview where the interviewee was talking about media influences on young people, and she said they had wooden stairs.

Well, when I heard that, I was surprised — why would that matter?  Then it dawned on me that she meant “Wooden Stares” — isn’t language marvellously twisted at times?

I am not always so slow on the uptake, I was talking about a vacation, and a passing colleague suddenly asked me if I was going to Mauritius (quite why he got that idea is unknown). I quipped back that I wasn’t going, and that it was all “Mauritius Rumours”.  Ho ho ho.  yes, I know!

I was also asked by my client not to forget some details — and after many reminders I am afraid I resorted to “It’s OK, relax, Omission Impossible”.  This has now been taken up, and it has been adapted to “Omission Accomplished”.

Today I had the bizarre situation of telling my “French” joke. The French Joke as far as I am concerned.  The trouble was that today I was forced to retell the joke to a Frenchman!  here’s my French joke:

“Did you do French at School”

“Yes”

“Well, do you remember that ‘water‘ is ‘L’eau‘?”

“Yes”

“And ‘to go‘ is ‘a‘?”

“OK”

“And do you recall that ‘it is‘ is ‘c’est‘?”

“Uhhuh”

“And finally that ‘The time‘ is the hour or ‘L’heure‘?”

“OK.”

“Well, the French Navy has an official motto, which is basically, along the lines of ‘To the sea or to the water, it is the time or it is the hour'”

“So what?”

“Well, ‘To the water’ is “A l’eau'”

“And “It is the hour” is “C’est l’heure’!”

“A L’eau c’est l’heure”

(note: sounds like Hello sailor).

Seb took the joke in good spirits, and as I walked away from his desk, he said,

“Dave – what eez zat on your shoe?”

At which point, and in mid stride, I cocked my leg back, out and up to look at the sole of my shoe, in what must have been the most gay gesture I have ever done.  Genius! Good old Seb, he got me good and proper!

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MEDIA SATIRE

12 March 2010

I have to say that I have been ‘off’ satire for a while; it’s not that amusing after a while.  Things seem to have stagnated.  Or so I thought. Then along came some stuff from YouTube.com that brought it all back.  Superb stuff for you to enjoy.

I kick this off with a stab at both pop music and pop music TV programs with this gem from Fat Pie’s David Firth:

[Embedded video from you tube]


Next up is Movie Trailers, The Oscars, and formulaic Hollywood motion Pictures:

[Embedded video from you tube]

How good was THAT?

Adam Buxton has taken YouTube to heart; some of his best work is there.  Check out his Eurovision satire:

[Embedded video from you tube]

I cannot leave this without including his hilarious subtitled “Songs of Praise” skit.  This is almost genius!

[Embedded video from you tube]

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FLORIDA ROADKILL

9 March 2010

[Picture of Tim Dorsey's Florida Roadkill book cover, 1999]A client of mine loaned me a Tim Dorsey novel – “Florida Roadkill“, and I read it in just a few days; it was a ripping yarn indeed.

It all began when I spotted him carrying a copy of a Dashiel Hammet novel, and talk ranged from there, through Raymond Chandler to Robert Altman. Then he handed me “Florida Roadkill”.

One thing I will say about this book is that you get educated.  By the end of it you know a considerable amount more about The Sunshine State than you did when you started.  It references Miami Vice, Humphrey Bogart movies, Baseball, American Football, NASA space launches, Hemingway, the Everglades and loads more.

Doresey’s 1999 debut starts with the 1997 World series baseball, and works backwards in chunks, so the various stories unfold and intertwine in reverse.

You learn weird things too — for example, the novel mentions a 17 year old girl sucking on a dummy tit because ecstasy made her grind her teeth.  Now I have seen teenagers using dummy tits, and just thought they were being teenagery, now I know better!

The first murder was by a Rube Goldberg contraption, a knock-up that we Brits would probably call Heath Robinson. It depended upon the vibration of a rocket launch.

There was also a murder by  Shrink-fit denims in a bathtub, an ottoman-surfing accident, inhaling tyre inflation and filler, drinking crop spray, and being filled with alcohol using a funnel inserted in the victim’s rectum.

The humour is black. Obviously.  It has a couple of central characters that resemble Lenny and George from Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”: the simple Seymour Coleman with his chubby, too-big head and small sunken eyes, and the tall thin, grey haired Serge A. Storms.

Another strand has Black Irish Sean Breen, (wife Karen and two kids — Christopher, 4, and Erin at 3 months) and school chum and fellow wrestling fan David Klein.  These two plan annual, unsuccessful fishing trips in Breen’s skiff, and got caught up in the story line when ill-gotten gains are stashed in their car.

There is a strong world-weary cynical streak throughout the novel, from the corruption and manipulation of the life assurance company, the crop spraying, the lies of Blaine Crease, television reporter and “Holy Moly” Mo Grenadine Radio shock radio jock, and the double-crossing of the developer and of Sharon, to the property developer aiming at the old and infirm.  There is also a sadness that Florida’s landmarks are uncared-for, not well enough known, not understood, and that sexual harassment is alive and kicking in the police force.

There is black humour and irony in abundance, from the Running of the Hemmingways to The ” Three Latin men” turning out to be Russian Mafia!

Dorsey packs a lot into the page, and the book whips by at a fair pace.  There are few moments of calm, and if there was one criticism I would make, it would be that there are a lot of characters to keep track of, and right from the outset.  This is therefore not a book to read in bits and bobs over a long period of time!

Anyway, I enjoyed it enough to move onto his next book, “Triggerfish Twist” (also loaned to me by my client — thanks Dave).

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STEWART FRANCIS

10 February 2010

[Picture of Stewart Francis]I first came across Stewart Francis on “Mock The week” on TV. It seemed to me to be so refreshing to hear a comedian tell jokes again.  Just wee jokes — one-liners.  He is one of the few panellists who could stand their own against Frankie Boyle.

Stewart Francis is a superb dead-pan stand-up joke-teller.  I think audiences like to be able to remember the odd joke and tell it a dinner party or at the bar or at work.  A joke is a joke and it belongs to everyone.  Maybe one-liners have a better chance of being remembered for being so short.

I once saw Bernard Manning live in Manchester years ago, and he was “out of favour”, and jokes were out of fashion with the new “alternative” comedy scene.  But, and I hated myself for having to admit it, he was extremely funny; jokes just wear you down in the end.  They are so silly, and delivered so quickly.

Stewart Francis does one-liners, and most of them are clean and fairly PC as well — but he can still make connections and links that lifts the act from disjointed individual gags, to an actual proper routine. In that respect he bridges the gap between Bob Monkhouse/ Jimmy Carr/ Steven Wright / Chic Murray and Mitch Hedbergisms gags and paraprosdokians and the likes of Eddie Izzard and Billy Connolly.

[embedded clip from youtube.com]

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HARDER MEANS CUTER

5 February 2010

Ah, for those innocent bygone days!

[Picture of Vitamins poster from the old days]

Pass me some vitamins!

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THE ELEVATOR

3 February 2010

I must say that I laughed out loud when I saw this old TV clip on YouTube.com

[embedded video clip from youTube.com]

What I loved about “Candid Camera” was that it was both funny and true — the psychology behind our behaviour is solid and so we are very predictable in what we do when faced with set up situations.

The fact is that we all have to face the same way in elevators, and we even have to remove hats! Hilarious!

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