“Have you seen that squirrel on telly with the huge bollocks? It’s HILARIOUS!”
That’s the question I was asked multiple times when I took a brief trip home to the UK last week. Not my opinion of the Bank of England’s latest round of quantitative easing, nor whether I thought Obama would win a second term. Perhaps it’s indicative of the grim times in which we live that a squirrel with massive balls can cheer us up. House slipped into negative equity? Here’s some footage of a duck sliding on its arse on the ice. Lost your job? Here’s a cat with some underpants stuck on its head (to be fair, we’d still laugh at that whether the economy was in the toilet or not. Everyone loves a cat dressed in underwear – it’s the furious look on its face that is so funny).
Maybe it’s just the earthy British sense of humour. I’m surprised the Government hasn’t caught on to this, given the Tories like a good schoolboy wheeze (I give you Big Society, the GREAT Britain campaign, and no economic Plan B). The latest employment figures could be issued along with one of those tiny books that, when you flip through it at speed, shows a puppy falling into a bucket. The Prime Minister’s press conference announcing dire growth figures could instead show videos of skateboarders slipping and crushing their nuts on top of park railings. We’d still be weeping with laughter as the bailiffs prised the remote control out of our claw-like hands. (Actually I think the Tories may be trying this out, if the recent row between Ken Clarke and Teresa May is anything to go by. But the pictures of the Bolivian cat were not funny at all, so the Government is clearly rubbish at this too).
Would it work in America? Would it distract and cheer up the protestors currently occupying Freedom Plaza here in DC, if giant screens were erected to show episodes of, say, Monty Python? Yes, yes, we all know the Yanks love a bit of Monty Python, but I’ve noticed they don’t laugh the same way. My good friend Lol gets furious when she tells someone a funny story and they don’t laugh immediately and instead say “Oh my god, that was sooo funny!” Well fucking laugh, then! Perhaps Americans don’t need a squirrel with huge bollocks or a knight who hits people with a chicken to cheer them up – after all, they have the Tea Party.
I am generalising, of course. My lovely DC friends can make me squeak with laughter. America does news satire brilliantly, and programmes like Jon Stewart’s Daily Show and the Colbert Report make me laugh until my tummy hurts. The Onion, a free newspaper and website, has turned deadpan humour into an art form; a recent headline reported “Typical City Bus Contains No Fewer Than Four Erections At Any Given Time”. Genius (and likely to be true; I’ve been on those buses). It’s a fallacy that Americans don’t do irony. Yesterday, for instance, we all had the day off work to celebrate Columbus Day, the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas. It would be like the UK celebrating the discovery of bluetongue among a flock of sheep.
I wonder what Columbus would have thought if he’d seen a squirrel with massive bollocks as he stepped off the boat. He’d probably have tried to smoke it.
And in case you were wondering ….