Monday, November 23, 2009

The Serious and the Trivial

Have you ever met anyone who said they didn't have a sense of humour?

Actually, I have. She was an actress who'd just played a long-running, very serious, role in a soap. "It was the ideal role for me," she told me, "because I don't think I have a sense of humour. So I never do comedy. I don't understand that thing that makes people go HAHAHA and I hardly ever laugh myself."

Well, at least she knew. But most people think they have a good sense of humour. We all find different things funny, but most people like to laugh.

Me too! I like to think I have a good sense of humour and I love things that make me laugh, and people who make me laugh too.

But actually, I think I'm fundamentally quite serious. I'm serious about my family and friends and I'm serious about my work - I take all my work seriously. In the agency I'm trying to find work for actors and I see that as a big responsibility. I think that the roleplay and teaching that I do for medical students and such is really important and I take it very seriously - - though never, I hope, in a po-faced way and I try to do it all with good humour.

A lot of big things have happened recently in my personal life too, and they've all required a lot of thinking about and taking seriously.

Now then. The poet T. S. Eliot (yes, I think it was he, though I read this years ago) once said that it's fine to enjoy a good novel. And it's also fine to enjoy a bad novel. The key to it is knowing which is which.

I have to say that, these days, I would never read a bad novel. I did too much Eng Lit for that. I just can't help criticising every word of it. I hardly ever read good novels these days, either. They often take too much mental effort - - and all my mental effort goes into my work.

When I have finished work - - and I do LOTS of work, believe me! - I like to relax with something that requires little or no mental effort.

This brings us to The X-Factor and Yorkshire Pudding's wonderment that I should watch it.

I know what it's about, don't go thinking that I don't. It's about making dramatic television, and it's about money. Yes, it's possible to argue that the contestants - - particularly the more deluded ones at the beginning, who'll do anything to get on telly - are exploited, being made to look fools on national television. But nobody made them be there!

I know that the panel cannot possibly see everyone who's there to audition and that therefore the contestants must be very much pre-screened so that the ones we see on television are the good, the bad and the ugly.

In previous years a couple of our actors - never the ones with the best singing voices! - have decided to audition and I've always advised them against it. It's taught me something about those particular actors, and not in a good way. Both have since left the agency.

And you could say - - and I expect some of you will - that The X-Factor is bad television.

But it's not. Whether you like it or not, or whether you approve of it or not, it's good television. It's take-me-away-from-all-this relaxing television. Because while I'm watching it, that's the main focus of my attention and any troubles fade into insignificance. And I know that's good for me.

The X-Factor may not be good television in the same mentally-stimulating league as, say, the wonderful wildlife programme Life. I watch that when I have more mental energy to appreciate it.

Once, when I had fewer real things to worry about, I would have watched such television programmes as the very very serious - and excellent - drama Threads by Barry Hines, about a nuclear war.

That was in 1984. I wouldn't watch it now. There's too much serious drama in my life anyway. Bring on The X-Factor, and a side order of I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. After that I'll have Coronation Street for dessert.


Anonymous Ruth said...

I too feel like there has been to much serious in my life recently so welcome the trivial.

As an actress, I have had perhaps more than my fair share of 'grieving mother' and other angst ridden parts. I would welcome some of the funny in my work life as a balance to the serious and am always pleased when someone recognises my sense of humour and comic ability. A director friend of mine once said 'why don't you do more comedy? You're really good at that' (I'm pretty sure this wasn't meant as a criticism of my serious roles).

However, I am quite resistant to so-called reality TV programmes and contests because I fear limit work opportunities for actors, writers, directors etc. Mind you, I seem to enjoy watching them when the viewing is imposed on me by friends I visit (yes, that includes you, Daphne!) so maybe I should take on more of the trivial myself. Go Jedward! oh, too late, they have gone.

8:05 pm  
Blogger Von said...

We can never have too much humour in our lives and one of the hardest things for us adults is to remember how to play and have fun.Let there be more of it, whatever brings you relaxation and a big laugh sounds good to me.

8:37 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

Well that's told me! Actually I have a confession to make. Please don't tell anybody but I am one of "EastEnders"'s biggest fans and for twenty five years it has provided me with a helpful distraction from everyday life. So there I have confessed but you'd still not get me watching "The Simon Cowell Show" or "Cruelty to Small Creatures in an Australian Jungle".

8:45 pm  
Blogger Grumpy Old Ken said...

Great1 I don't watch the x factor but so what. That doesn't make me superior. You might be mildly amused at my next blog.

11:06 am  

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