A sense of humour

Whenever I hear the words ‘standup comedian’ I want to throw up. Not just that modern ‘stand-ups’ are woefully unfunny, nor that they confuse obscenity with levity, but that they predictably laugh at the same targets – Toffs, Christians... er, that’s it. Yes, old-time comedians often laughed at hapless folk (Eric Morecambe at ‘little Ern’, Max Miller at audiences who’d misinterpreted his innocent remarks) but they also laughed at themselves – Tommy Cooper and the tricks that didn’t go ‘just like that.’

Adolf Hitler was not only devoid of any moral sense but also of the ability to laugh at himself. That moustache. Didn’t he ever look in a mirror? Had he done so, could he have taken himself seriously?

I sometimes wonder if ‘traditionalists’ not only take themselves too seriously but that, while they can laugh at the ‘liberals’ they’re losing the ability to laugh at themselves.

Despite ‘the Evangelical grin’, Evangelicals, Spurgeon apart, seldom have the ability to laugh at themselves. Anglo-Catholics once readily recognized the laughability of their ‘un-Anglican attitudes.’ Older readers will be able to recite the self-mocking ‘Anglican Alphabet’. Its author, Fr Sandys Wason, was so extreme that were he alive today, expressing a desire to join the Ordinariate, frantic Fathers would break Olympic records re-crossing the Tiber.

You might say that there’s precious little for traditionalists to laugh about today, given our perilous position. But then laughing at ourselves is the best way of having the last laugh. Critics chuckle about the acronyms suggested by the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda, jesting that FiF’s all ‘SWASHed up.’ Still time to trump attempts to mock by founding another group named after such Anglican heroes as Cranmer, Ryle And Pusey. Watch out WATCH. We may not be joking.

Alan Edwards

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