Monday, October 25, 2010

yours sincerely, P Dantic

A bit more comedy innumeracy on the Today programme this morning, during a piece about the counter-intuitive robustness of the profit margins of companies like LVMH during the current economic crisis. Now you would naturally assume that among the first things to be pared back when the recession starts to bite would be the sort of high-gloss aspirational designer-label bling that people like LVMH sell, as people tighten their belts and start to buy fewer ruby-encrusted handbags and concentrate more on haslet and cauliflowers. Not so, apparently.

Anyway, it was mentioned in a similar context that sales of the new Ferrari had stayed buoyant, despite its carrying a hefty price tag of, and I quote, "347 hundred thousand pounds". By my calculations that's 34.7 million pounds; if you can afford one of those you're probably pretty much recession-proof.

A couple of other things that caught my ear:
  • an interview with Gerald Scarfe on the publication of his illustrated memoir of working on the Pink Floyd/Alan Parker film The Wall - Scarfe's apocalyptic animations being by far the best bit of the film; the live-action bits all being a bit heavy-handed and portentous, and featuring Bob Geldof looking mildly embarrassed (to his credit) about the whole thing. There was a brief interview with Roger Waters wherein he bigged up Scarfe's work and also let slip that David Gilmour would be putting in a guest appearance at one of his upcoming Wall shows, at which he promised to "make the poor old bugger climb the wall". Nice to see a bit of a thawing of the 20-year feud between the two: as well as the Live 8 reunion Waters and Gilmour played together at a chariddy gig in Oxfordshire recently, one that (according to the linked article) was "compared by Fearne Cotton". Compared to what? Oh, you mean compèred. Waters did also let slip that most of the communication between the two regarding the Wall gig was by their respective roadies talking to each other, so they may not be back on each others' Christmas card lists just yet.
  • a brief snippet of Start The Week with Andrew Marr in which he talked to, among others, Alasdair Gray, maverick Scottish novelist and artist. I've never read any of Gray's stuff (Lanark remains the book for which he's most famous), but on the evidence of the 5-minute segment I heard he is an absolute textbook comedy caricature Scottish nutcase, prone to extravagantly rolled Rs, high-pitched "eh, eh, eh" interjections as a prelude to making a point, random SHOUTING at incongruous times, and that less specifically Scottish (but still recognisably British) thing some shy people have of saying Proper Serious Things in a Comedy Accent (either upper-class English or American in Gray's case), as if to self-deprecatingly undermine one's own seriousness yet also slightly passive-aggressively draw attention to it at the same time.
  • on a similar linguistic/anthropological/behavioural note I caught part of a later show while doing a quick run to Tesco's at about 11:30am on which comedian Sue Perkins was revisiting some of her childhood haunts in Croydon. She was making a joke about drinking cider in car parks with teenage boyfriends (this presumably pre-dates her coming out as a prominent Showbiz Lesbian) and used the widely-used (but to my ear slightly grating) comedy construct of doing a gag and then saying "Ummm...." (it could be "Errrr...."; same difference) with barely a pause as if to say: hey, I'm just throwing this stuff out - you can laugh if you like, but I've already moved on to something else (note that the "um" never actually precedes another sentence). So it's something like "rambling comedy buildup, rambling comedy buildup...[pause]...throwaway punchline! Ummm...." It's another specifically British thing, I think, again almost undercutting the notion of anything so brash and vulgar and American as waiting for a laugh. Sandi Toksvig does it all the time as well (absolutely textbook example from QI here, about ten seconds in), as does Clive Anderson. I have a vague recollection of (rather incongruously) Tom O'Connor doing it back in the day as well.
  • Sticking with the Perkins-bashing (and I should interject at this point to say that I generally like her stuff very much) she was having a conversation with some bloke about some Croydon architectural eyesore, which he characterised as being shaped "like a square with the corners cut off", at which Perkins got all sniffy and said "surely you mean a hexagon". Trouble is, a square with the corners cut off would be an octagon, a hexagon being a triangle with the corners cut off. It's a small nit, but I felt the need to pick it anyway.

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