“Never trust a man in a shell suit”, is what my mum used to say…unless they’re stuck in some sort of parallel universe where Ali G is King and the music of Salt-N-Pepa is put on loop. Needless to say, this mantra should be universally recognised. From the public sphere to the media, everybody needs to know that – “if his suit’s made of polyester, he’s most probably a molester”.
So how can people be so surprised by the recent allegations against Jimmy Savile? I mean, yes his private life was forever shrouded in mystery but don’t tell me that the guy didn’t look like a sex offender in the making. For starters his hair looked like a combo of flattened down candyfloss and tensile cotton wool (apparently his barnet was so stretchy that Savage Garden were able to take it “to the moon and back”. No joke…). And as for those eyes? Come on, they were nothing short of a horny hawk’s gawk! Believe me, I am not shocked in the slightest. In fact, what surprises me most is how long the story has dragged on for; as if we need any more evidence to incriminate the man. Indeed, he once said, “I don’t own a computer because I don’t want anyone to think I’m downloading child pornography”…or something like that. If that’s not damning enough for you then what on earth is?! But, just to show how long the case has gone on for, since the 1st allegation of this series of ‘Jim’s Abused It’ came out the world has changed dramatically:
14th October – Man breaks speed of sound
16th October – Cats feud at Downing Street
20th October – Liverpool win league game at Anfield
The whole saga has gone on far too long now. So much so, I expect that the ‘awe-inspiring’ Ed Sheeran will write yet another subtly titled track – ‘Paedophilia’. A track where he’ll tepidly parody the lives of Gary Glitter and Freddie Starr before realising that’s where his lukewarm sardonicism is destined to take him. Although I’m not entirely sure if I believe the stories I’m reading anymore. In fact, I’m starting to dream up conspiracies whereby the Daily Mail has fabricated stories in a feeble attempt to try and humiliate the thing they love to hate the most. No, not Northern-Labour-voting-teachers… but the BBC.
Yet, it is not a dream, for the BBC must face the consequences of having let such savages slip through the net. However, whereas Fleet Street got the steely-eyed Lord Leveson, the ‘Beeb’ have to deal with the wrath of someone from the National Trust!
So don’t expect an end to this mess anytime soon but do make sure to look out for the likes of Jonathan King, or indeed a John Peel-shaped poltergeist lurking about Stourhead. Alternatively, if you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse on Lundy, so how’s about that then?!
Learning French with Eddie Izz(n’t)ard
French: It’s the sort of language that makes you want to say ‘quoi?’ One bewildered utterance, a monosyllabic sound to accompany the baffled expression that uncontrollably falls on the faces of us Brits. It all sounds a bit double-Dutch, doesn’t it? Yet, despite our supposed insularity, how come well-known comedian Eddie Izzard is able to seamlessly merge two languages in a way that makes us laugh?
Eddie Izzard ignores the stereotypical use of French within comedies such as ‘Allo Allo!’ and ‘Only Fools and Horses’, adding a refreshing sophistication to the use of language within comedy. Izzard uses eye-catching body language, majestically pacing the stage in order to deliver lines such as…
‘Je dois partir maintenant parce que ma grand-mère est flambèe’
The comedy comes from the combination of accurate schoolboy French illustrated by arm waving, richly made up open eyes and pure swagger. We are now entering the comedy of the slightly absurd but as an audience are being seduced by Izzard’s deft use of language and delivery.
Well, there are many theories of humour that help to explain how our funny bones are tickled but two in particular stand out. First up is the Superiority Theory. Tracing back to Plato and Aristotle, this theory centres itself around the idea of schadenfreude: taking pleasure from others misfortunes or their inferiority. We’ve all been guilty of laughing at cartoon characters slipping on that unfortunately placed banana skin or that idiot’s audacity on ‘You’ve Been Framed’ but, rather unconventionally, Eddie Izzard inverts the theory onto himself. His reversal of the idea comes from a desire to create a shared experience between the narrator and the listener. Rather than mocking somebody inferior, he tends to turn the joke onto himself…
‘Tu es un travesti?’… ‘Oui je suis un travesti mais pas un travesti typical!’
… using his own transvestism as the butt of his jokes. Having said this, you could argue that the very reason he uses French in his comedy is to feel superior and, as he admits himself, to stick ‘two v’s’ up at his foreign friends.
Secondly we have the Incongruity Theory. This revolves around the assumption that we laugh at things that surprise us because they seem out of place: like clowns wearing outrageously large shoes or politicians telling the truth… The absurd nature of Eddie’s stand-up follows this particular theory perfectly as his bizarre story of holidaying with a mouse, a cat and a monkey show how the weirder the concept is, the more wonderfully funny the joke becomes. This will explain…
‘Ah le singe… Maintenant regarde: il est sur une bicyclette… il joue au banjo et… il fume une pipe!’
Not only can this fictitious monkey of Eddie’s ride a bike, play a banjo and smoke a pipe but also he later goes on to drive a bus with Sandra Bullock! This, in turn, shows Eddie using French creatively in order to make even the most outré of situations appear even balmier!
Now, as you’ve probably already noticed, the French above doesn’t appear too hard to decipher, does it? The fact that the comedian uses a lot of French that looks and sounds similar to its counterpart in English means that the audience is able to understand it with minimum fuss. Words such as:
‘table; positions; bombe; autobus; hôtel’
…all back this up and, strangely, as a result of these similarities it gives the audience a sense of satisfaction for being able to grasp the French. Furthermore, Eddie doesn’t feel the need to explain many words since the added use of paralinguistic features, like mimicking the licking of a spoon, helps aid the audience’s comprehension of his phrases.
All in all, what really makes us laugh is the content of his stand-up rather than its French exterior. At times we don’t even notice that Mr. Izzard is speaking fluent French for we are captivated by the unorthodox nature of his anecdote (Incongruity Theory, remember?); removing the awareness that a foreign language is being used. So if you wish to learn the beautiful language that is French (particularly how to say that there’s a monkey on the branch) then ‘Learning French’ is your perfect starting point because with Eddie, it really Izzn’t hard. Actually, you might even find it quite fun!