Saturday, January 8, 2011

Past Deadline: Defining Funny Television

Apparently I’m no fun – at least when it comes to watching TV.

This disturbing truth was revealed while a friend of ours spent the weekend. He and Groom-boy took great delight in watching the Family Guy marathon – episode after episode – while I tried hard not to run screaming from the room. This was interspersed with sitcom reruns from the 1970s and ’80s, such as Three’s Company.

Adult cartoons and reruns from my childhood just don’t do it for me. While the two of them sat there guffawing and chortling, I thought I’d have more fun shoving bamboo under my fingernails and then poking myself in the eye repeatedly. (I’m sincerely hoping here that there are some readers out there who agree these shows are not high up on the humour meter – or am I truly no fun?)

“Well what TV shows do you think are funny? What do you watch for entertainment?” our friend asked.

The first thing that came to mind was the news. I take great delight in watching the news, especially at 11 p.m., because I enjoy mocking the anchors. Somehow, though, that didn’t seem like a good answer.

The next thing I thought of was the various dramas that run during the 10 to 11 p.m. spot, which is around the time I finally get a chance to plunk down in a chair and watch TV if I so choose. But crime dramas (because, really, that’s mostly all that’s on during that time if you’re looking for a non-reality serial to watch), didn’t seem like the right answer, either. They’re not exactly “funny.”

When the kids are home, the TV is on a lot. That doesn’t necessarily mean anyone is watching it, but there are a couple of shows they have found that are pretty cute. One is a Disney show called I’m in the Band and another is a Canadian one called That’s So Weird. They both contain some amusing humour for grown-ups, kind of like how Bugs Bunny had a few nuggets for Moms and Dads back when I was watching it as a kid. Somehow, though, citing kids’ shows didn’t seem like a good answer either.

At one point my friend was flipping through the channels and started singing, “Fifty-seven channels and nothing on.” (Remember that Bruce Springsteen song from 1992?) “Only now it’s more like ‘Seven hundred channels and nothing on,’” he quipped as we skipped over a kazillion reality shows and other junk.

And that reminded me. There was a time, way before kids and a bit before marriage, when I believed I would have been pretty content to go without television entirely. Some days I still feel that way. This weekend was one of those times – especially during the Family Guy marathon. At one point I did actually laugh and then I got heckled. “THAT is the one thing you find funny?”

I tell you, I can’t win. Or perhaps I need new friends.

I’m willing to bet that if I had more time (or interest) to sit around and explore current sitcoms I would find something appealing. I mean, it’s not as if I only want watch Dramas (with a capital D) or shows about eyeball surgery. Humorous entertainment is quite a lovely thing.

I think, really, the problem is that I have become quite “anti din.”

This is especially acute when the kids are home and super keyed up, as they have been over the Christmas break. The associated excitement has vastly increased the decibel level in the house.
Combine holidays with the fact we have NO snow (yes, I want some snow), which means they don’t really want to play outside in the cold, wet drab, and you get a lot of people rambling loudly around the house.

Of course, I also get heckled because, if given a choice between listening to CBC Radio 2 (the music) or Radio 1 (the chatter) while I’m working, I would choose the music. While the chatter is reasonably intelligent, it’s still talk talk talk (din).

Okay. End of rant. If you need me I will (hopefully) be sitting in a quiet (possibly rubber) room somewhere reading a book.
Published in The Perth Courier, Jan. 6/11

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