It’s become very hard for a Christian to turn on the TV these days and find something to laugh at that doesn’t leave you feeling a little guilty by the credits. Thankfully, in an effort to keep us amused this summer, the ABC has loaded up on comedians from across the globe – some of whom are worth laughing at.
In the fortnight surrounding Christmas the ABC supplied its viewers with a wide variety of comedy specials, the majority of which are still available via iView. The less said about The One Ronnie and Xmas Quickies the better. However there are at least two series worth keeping track of.
The first is Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, a collection of live performances in key British cities by host Michael McIntyre and a selection of stand-up comics. ‘Live’ in TV productions usually pushes the content ratings up a few notches. It’s amazing how frequently comedians – sadly, especially Australians – reach for profanity and sexuality to fill the void where the punch line used to be. This is the sort of humour C.S. Lewis referred to as ‘flippancy’:
“Among flippant people the Joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it.”
The result is the sort of mindless, adolescent humour you’re hoping your kids don’t walk in on. But my wife and I slowly relaxed our fingers on the remote when we realized this was not what Michael McIntyre and Co. had in store for us. In most cases the humour is of an observational sort that puts our own pride in the firing line, there is no foul language to speak of and very, very little reference to sexual subjects. Instead the comedians work hard to highlight the incongruities that make us examine our own characters. Which is very similar to…
Portlandia. If you haven’t clued in to this comic drama set in the northwest of America, you have guaranteed good times ahead. Portlandia is a satirical sketch-comedy series set in Portland, Oregon and focusing on the struggles of several earnest citizens living there. The jokes centre on what many people refer to as ‘first world problems’ – poor service in cafés, the struggle to empathize with the environment and the growing list of products that should afflict our consciences. If there is sexual content then its very restrained and only included in so far as it relates to the comedy arising from ‘modern’ relationships. What emerges is an incisive half hour that not only leaves you laughing but thinking about the ludicrous existence we’ve fashioned for ourselves.
If there is a common ground linking the geographically distant Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow and Portlandia it’s the tendency to put the joke on us. Mockery is what happens when we make other people the source of humour; those jokes rely on our pride in ourselves. But there’s nothing the Bible finds funnier than a person who thinks they’ve got it altogether, and in particular one who thinks they can get by without God. Humility is the natural state that human beings should occupy as we walk through the world our Father has created. Have you heard that old joke, “How do you make God laugh?” Tell him your plans. Any humour that encourages that frame of mind is doing me a favour.
Release Date: iView