Laughing Too Hard, or Getting the Giggles in a Public Place

There are some advantages to living in a crime hotspot, with Met Police helicopters buzzing and droning overhead. As sleep is impossible, this has given me time to think. And around 4.30 am I was thinking about the last time I cried with laughter (see previous entry).

A few years ago I was in Edinburgh during the Festival, with my friend Heather, and we found a house given over to a exhibition curated by the comedian Arthur Smith. It was brilliant.

In a upstairs room he had obviously transplanted pretty much all his personal and business correspondence, papers, bills and writing – there were letters, postcards, photographs and pages of typescript everywhere, on the floor, walls and in cabinets. A complete mess.

You could sit at a desk and read pages of his unfinished autobiography, including the most recent page, still in an ancient manual typewriter. It actually felt a bit intrusive looking at some of this stuff, but the snippets of the autobiography I read were bloody funny.

At that time, Arthur Smith was notorious for inviting his gig audiences back to his Balham flat, and pinned to the wall were letters from angry estate managers and residents, that he obviously continued to ignore. I remember one which stated that the flower bed was not a urinal, and also that it was inappropriate to brandish an air rifle in the locality.

Well that started us off, and we were completely astonished to encounter in the top room, about 40 barbie dolls suspended in line on nylon thread, and some of them even appearing to fly out of the window.

Near the first Barbie, on the wall, was an innocuous looking wallchart, like one of those football team posters with pictures of grinning players’ faces, and their names and positions. But when you looked closer the faces were all distorted and caricatured using using other bits of faces and bodies, and their names had been meticulously cut and pasted and extended, and oh, I can’t explain it, but we started to laugh so hard, then one of us would point out another bulging eye or ridiculous name, and we would set each other off again.

Even though it was supposed to be a comedy exhibition, other visitors were looking at us strangely, but when you try and suppress your laughter it has a way of getting out, and we ended up doubled up by the window, with the flying Barbies, gasping for air.

And as for the collage, it was something that the comedian, Stuart Lee did as a student, over 20 years ago. Of course my camera had broken, and this was before smartphones, so if anyone knows what I am talking about, and perhaps have a picture they could share with me, I will be forever in your debt.

Great memories.

PS I apologise for this ‘drivel’ but a) I enjoyed writing it, and b) You don’t have to read it.


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