My prescription for lockdown

25 Jan

There was much hilarity at the Glasgow Esperanto Club this month. We were using Gather (an odd little meetup platform with very ’90s graphics) to play the ‘Secret Rule’ game, and the secret rule was that everyone had to laugh whenever Peter’s hand(s) were in shot. Although the laughter started off artificial, it soon became real when poor Peter was sitting with his hands clearly visible on top of his despairing head saying that he just couldn’t work it out. There is something very funny about a group of people who are not allowed to stop laughing, while someone else has no idea why.

At the end of the game, one of the other participants thanked Peter for giving him a good laugh, which he had been in need of. The same thing was probably true of the rest of us. In a locked-down winter, laughs are in short supply. According to an audiobook I’m reading, Quirkology, laughter has a number of health benefits. I can’t tell you what they are, of course, because it’s an audiobook so it’s an absolute faff to find the right passage after it’s gone. But let’s just take them as read.

With that in mind, I am offering you a selection of the three funniest films I can recall seeing. These are not wry-smile-to-occasional-chortle films; these are films that made me laugh so much I cried, or got a headache, or both. I mean that in a good way.

Four Lions

A film about a group of men planning a terrorist attack shouldn’t be funny, but Chris Morris doesn’t do “should”. There’s black humour (as you would expect), slapstick, satire, and some lines that immediately become funny for the rest of your life, so that just the words “rubber dinghy rapids” or “who was on the phone, bro?” make me smile. This film has ridiculous situations, personality clashes, comedies of errors and an exploding sheep, but it still manages to weasel in some serious points about compromise and hypocrisy. It is an absolute zinger.

Heartbreaker

Or L’arnacoeur, to give it its original title. This is a French rom-com with a male protagonist, Alex, a man whose job it is to break up couples that shouldn’t be together (in the opinion of whoever is paying). It’s very funny seeing him pulling out all the cliches to attract a series of women (including releasing doves on cue) so that they realise their current beau isn’t all that, but the film takes it up a notch when Alex accepts a particularly challenging case. As long as you’re not allergic to subtitled films, this is a brilliant laugh. Probably the funniest moment involves trying to recreate the difficult lift scene from Dirty Dancing!

Spy

Those last two films, coincidentally, both came from 2010. This one is a bit more recent, at 2015. Melissa McCarthy is not everyone’s cup of tea, but she can be extremely funny. She underplays it a little (for her) in this role as Susan, a back-office intelligence agent suddenly promoted to the field, and she is all the more effective for it. Miranda Hart plays her friend and colleague, Nancy, and is (obviously) also very funny. But it’s Jason Statham who is the standout. He plays a loose-cannon field agent with searing intensity and side-splitting earnestness. There’s one scene where he batters Susan with a list of the terrifying and sometimes physically impossible deeds he has pulled off, and just remembering the dialogue starts me laughing. This is a very sweary film though (much more than the other two), so be warned.

The Four Yorkshiremen

Ooh, a bonus entry! This is not a film, just a sketch. The original was from something called At Last the 1948 Show, but it’s better known as a Monty Python sketch, and I think the delivery is better in the Python iteration, which is embedded below. I showed it to my nieces as they came in while I was writing this. The seven-year-old thought it was “a bit funny” while the nine-year-old thought it was “not really” funny. Meanwhile, I was literally mopping up tears of laughter even though I must have seen this half a dozen times. I know that humour is very personal, and there will be people reading this who cannot stand this kind of absurd comedy, but for me, it is just what the doctor ordered. After all, lockdown is nothing compared to these four men’s experiences!

Enjoy 😁

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