Sunday, March 22, 2009

SERIOUS FROLIC: Essays on Australian Humour

Have you ever wondered what Australians find funny? If there is a distinctive style of Australian humour, or is there more than one? What are the ingredients of such Australian funny stuff, and what social and cultural functions do they perform?

And what about Aboriginal humour? Is there such a thing, and if so, what makes us laugh? If you think like me then you’ll believe that our collective sense of humour is what has helped to sustain communities over two centuries of hard times.

To learn more though, and to have a giggle at the same time, you should grab a copy of the recently released Serious Frolic: essays on Australian Humour edited by Fran De Groen and Peter Kirkpatrick.

Amongst this first collection of essays dedicated to examining a range of Australian humour, our very own educator Lillian Holt – who regards her best asset to be her humour – contributes an essay that suggests that Aboriginal humour is ‘gentle’ and that self-deprecation eases oppression. I agree at least on the latter.

Lillian’s piece is the result of conversations she’s had with blackfellas around Australia on the topic of humour, conversations which determined that our humour is ‘spontaneous, part of ordinary life, happening here and now.’

Lillian gives examples of her own funny moments working in Aboriginal education, and some of these are a hoot. She also shows how humour can cut the tension between truth and stereotype by reversing such stereotypes.

Humour is included in Lillian’s list of Five H’s needed to for Australia to progress through the thorny terrain of race relations in this country – the other H’s being History, Honesty Humanity and Hope.

Other contributors in Serious Frolic include Jessica Milner Davis who comments on the humour of Ruby Langford Ginibi in her essay ‘Aussie Humour and Laughter: joking as an acculturating ritual’ and Bruce Bennett who states that ‘Herb Wharton shows a capacity to create humour from adversity while building on oral traditions of storytelling rich in dialogue.’

So, if you want a laugh, or you’re interested in finding out what makes other people laugh, grab a hold of Serious Frolic: essays on Australian Humour


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Australian humour