Friday, May 3, 2013

Lament of a Jester


P.G.Wodehouse took grave objection to being called a 'burbling pixie', ‘believing that as such he became a hissing and a by-word among the eggheads. You can't go calling a man a burbling pixie without lowering his morale. He frets. He refuses to eat his cereal. He goes about with his hands in his pockets and his lower lip jutting out, kicking stones. The next thing you know, he is writing thoughtful novels analyzing social conditions, and you are short another humorist.’

I cannot claim to have been called a ‘burbling pixie’. Primarily because the word ‘burbling’ does not seem to be much in use these days and, going by some English experts, anything that is outdated cannot even be called English. As for ‘pixie’, if it has not been given prominence by Tolkien or Rowling, it does not deserve to be considered a legitimate fantasy creature. Still, I have had my lower lip jutting out, I have been kicking stones and, if not thoughtful novels, I have been writing pieces on Social conditions. (By the way, I like the other version of Wodehouse where he says, ‘He grows a beard and writes one of those Russian novels’ - primarily because I have a beard, I suppose!)

What set it all off, then? Nothing specific, really. There are times when the jester’s cap sits heavy on your head and the bells seem to jingle mournfully and you start feeling this urgent need to be taken seriously. Then, you hit upon some brilliant thought that the world has never heard of before and you go out into the market-place and shout, “Hear Ye! The world is round and not flat” only to find that your audience is too busy dickering for its onions to pay any heed to you.

Now what is it that keeps a man dissatisfied with who he is? The jester suddenly develops an appetite for being a social reformer and the serious thoughtful guys feel the pressing need to jest. Ah! The vagaries of human nature!

Actually, I can quite understand why the serious guys feel the need to jest. With almost every woman and her aunt looking for a man with a ‘sense of humor’, it is but a vital necessity for every man to delve into the dark corners of his heart to see if he can find a glimmer of a sense of humor. Though what the ladies really do with this man, I have never yet managed to understand.

I mean, I have seen many a woman snag this elusive man only to spend the rest of their lives saying, ‘Be serious, Bertie”. Now, what is it exactly that they want – a serious person or a jester? It almost seems as if they need a man with a sense of humor only because they can occupy the rest of their time in beating it out of him. Someone without it to start with offers no such entertainment.

Digressions! Digressions! Where was I? Ah! On the need for a jester to turn serious. You see, the issue is that a jester is never taken seriously. If he says, “I have a headache”, people laugh and say, “Go on with you. Always joking” and the headache intensifies in trying to find out exactly what the joke was that you cracked unintentionally. Even on the death-bed, you are expected to come out with a witty line about all the friends that you are going to meet in Hell – when, with all your heart, you are wishing the entirety of your audience in Hell so that you can die in peace without the pressure of having to think up a witty exit line. The serious guys have it easy. They can mope and their audience will be suitably sympathetic.

As long as this morbid mood lasts, wit flies out of the window. But the day will come when the jester’s cap fits snug on the head and the bells ring joyously – for, after all, Bertie can be serious only for so long.

42 comments:

  1. Suresh, that is the classic wail of a jester!

    I believe man and women are born to dicker their own onions. It is genetically hard coded, nothing's gonna reverse it, even jesting.

    Good read on a promising morning.

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    1. Thanks Uma! I've been writing seriously for a while and tried my hand at this merely to remind myself that I used to try writing humor :)

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  2. You remind me of Raj Kapoor's movie and joker. So, the jester is feeling the heat of expectations :). Now coming to your writing, and in my opinion, you do humor and serious writing equally well. Of course I loved your management spoofs the most perhaps because they were so bang on :). And everyone looks for sense of humor because life sucks. But in real life, we need someone level headed, serious about life and its challenges with a sense of humor to make the journey tolerable.

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    1. Hahaha! Yes! Sometimes you tend to feel that every post from you has to be humorous in order to retain readership :) Thanks for lauding my writing.

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  3. Very well written Suresh ! I was reminded of 'Mera Naam Joker', thankfully you stopped short before the audience goes into the tear-jerking mode :)
    Yes, essentially people keep saying they like a sense of humor..but I have found one needs to have a good sense of humor to appreciate another's humor, otherwise your humorous repartee is met with a deadpan expression leaving you in the embarrassing position of either coughing it away or worse, to do the explaining.

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    1. And there is nothing worse than explaining a joke - particularly when you are done explaining the punchline and your audience looks expectantly and asks you 'And?" :)

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  4. I mean, I have seen many a woman snag this elusive man only to spend the rest of their lives saying, ‘Be serious, Bertie”. Loved what you said there, because that is funny yet true. I have heard it so often myself. As for me, I can never remain serious for long, though my seriousness when it lasts is quite intent.

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    1. As is mine! The only problem is, when I am serious, I tend to lecture :)

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  5. I admire your felicity for both genres. While the serious posts offer a lot to chew the witty ones are a pleasure to read. But what I like most is the easy way with words.

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  6. If I ever find a man with a sense of humor, I would count my blessings for the rest of my life. I'll keep the worrying/planning/serious stuff to myself as long as he makes me laugh when I need the most :)

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    1. If only someone had said this some 20 odd years back I may have been married now :) I hate WORKING :)

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    2. I wish there was an option to 'LIKE' what you just said! :P :)

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  7. Brilliant Suresh.. When I read your posts, I look for the right words to express how wonderful they are...But more often than not I fail.. The same is the case with this post... I guess I'll just say that I loved it (doesn't quite justify its brilliance though but I just don't know what to say!)

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    1. Thanks Naba! It is great to hear that people appreciate my writing - music to my ears no matter how sung :)

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  8. have you been writing serious stuffs of late, Suresh? i was not able to read anything for last one month or so for various reasons. i think you are one of the best writers in blogosphere when it comes to serious stuffs. i remember reading couple of BAT entries on your blog and those were simply outstanding. having said that, every time i visit any blog, all i want to read is a humor post :).

    loved reading this one!

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    1. :) Well! I suddenly started feeling I was Socrates - for the last month :)

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  9. I suppose there are few professions...where things of common means just don't abide their professions...any serious lament of a jester...would be considered similar to a pilot who claims...he is afraid of heights...


    mind blowing stuff...!!!

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    1. Ah! A pilot can be afraid of heights - a mountaineer never :)

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  10. But, seriousness is also relative, right? Thankfully (for me), when you get serious and introspective, you churn out a sparkling post like this one, rather than something Doestoveskian that would make me weep.
    You know I am writing something serious when the post is missing words like fart and ass etc!

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    1. This was me kicking myself out of the seriousness :)

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  11. This got right in amongst me.

    I agree with you completely about a woman's penchant for finding a man with a rollicking SOH. To beat it out of a man is one of the compensations of being a woman. Personally though, I am yet to try it. I have never wanted SOH in a man which is perhaps why my life has been bereft of the species.

    For the rest, I am certain you didn't intend your reader to detect a note of pensive forlornness in your words. We'll put it down to a figment of my imagination therefore, and find new stones to kick to kingdom come.

    Cheers jester!

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    1. No pensive forlornness :) To be pensive one requires a brain and to be forlorn one requires a heart :) Everyone who knows me considers me bereft of both :)

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  12. It's like Tushar Kapoor getting typecasted as one of those funny heroes who couldn't (Thankfully) Speak...And yes eventually his attempts to don the Underworld Gangster role met with rather sorry reviews...Primarily because he sucked Big Time...The Funny Guys are always Type-Casted , no matter how serious you wanna sound..Even on the Death Bed !!

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  13. I know what you mean-focusing on one genre becomes monotonous sometimes.You need time to charge the cells& therefore shift to something else.
    But from a reader's POV i would say Socrates & PGW,both rock.

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    1. They do, Indu! My focus was also on a different facet - that a jester is taken to be an intellectual light-weight (the 'burbling pixie') and, sometimes, seems to feel the need to prove that he has at least two grey cells to rub together :)

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    2. You jest agaaaain--now tell me how you interpret this.

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  14. When looking for a guy with a sense of humour, I was certain all I wanted was someone who would laugh at my jokes! So glad I found him. ;)

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    1. Good for you Corinne! Btw, that was the first line I thought of but I think I used something similar in 'Words and Meanings' for Team Player - so i abstained :)

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  15. Imagine if jesters came with a coin slot in their head. They would have been billionaires providing humor to all the ladies.

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    1. Hmmm! Sounds like a decent business plan :) Is marriage also to be included in the deal? :)

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  16. This was nice! Someday I will write serious posts too :-|

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    1. Feeling the weight of the jester's cap, Giribala? :)

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  17. Its not always funny to be funny.

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    1. Every now and then it strikes me that way :) Normally it is fun for me to try to be funny :)

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  18. Haha...
    You nailed that well Suresh ji...hats off to you. I think you should be seriously investigating the mind of women regarding humour.

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