Spent an evening at the Sheik Zayed Theatre for the “Comedy as Commentary” part of the LSE’s Litfest with Gareth Edwards, John Finnemore, John Morton and Joanna Scanlan. We were shown a clip of John Morton’s Twenty Twelve (I’d forgotten how funny it was), as a demonstration of John Morton’s take on comedy, which in this instance was the difference between expectation and reality. Watching the Olympics organising team with days to go before the opening ceremony, escape from the reality of not knowing or caring what the f*** was going on, by ordering double shot skinny lattes, tweaked a few memories of meetings gone by with me and many others in the audience. John Morton gave a real example of what can happen as a result of not knowing what you’re supposed to be doing, in an anecdote of how the director Stephen Daldry, had to supply the Queen who had caught his attention by waving, with a microphone – just minutes to go before the opening Olympics Ceremony. No one in the organising Olympics committee had thought about a microphone for the Queen. He also talked about the Thick of It and how people carrying on in disastrous circumstances can be funny – as with the comedy of the hilarious Laurel and Hardy and Groucho brothers. John Finnemore and Joanna Scanlon agreed with this. They were also clear on the “rules”. They never make the “victim” the object of humour. Joanna Scanlon said that in Getting On the patients are never the butt of the jokes. They did submit that a couple of comedy writers do like to victimise people for fun, but they found the results mostly cringe worthy. It was accepted though that making fun of the more vulnerable is how children can and often do, bully other children in the playground. Gareth Edwards and Joanna Scanlon said that a lot of their comedy comes from anger and hatred – as with the classic Faulty Towers. Extremes of emotion feed into the inspiration to create farce. It was an informative and relaxed evening and the panel were very entertaining. Afterwards there was a bar and some free food.
The evening had a surreal edge right from the start. As we approached the theatre we saw a crowd of about 130 people milling about outside in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. I thought it was a queue waiting to go inside the theatre, but there were 2 queues – for free hot drinks and sandwiches, being given to the homeless.