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 Let me Entertain You

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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Let me Entertain You   Sun 07 Sep 2014, 22:44

Another thing that appears to set us apart from other animals is entertainment. Even monkeys don't play the ape to amuse the rest of the gang - or so I suspect. So I have been wondering when did that all start? It was very well established in the evidence of the earliest of classical  times. In truth I have not looked up anything on this but others may have or can give some pointers as to ancient development. I assume nordmann will have it that religious rites prompted the first laughs.......

Perhaps I should get myself back to hospital where I have just been for a bit again; quite a lot to laugh at in hospitals.
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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Mon 08 Sep 2014, 07:39

If you're talking about dramatic performances designed to make people laugh then I imagine the roots (much like religious ritual that you refer to also) lie in the ancient requirement to impart information through dramatic means as performed by individuals to the other members of a small community with which they identify. Humour is a complicated human faculty dependent on quite a lot of other faculties which in themselves give rise to no obvious humour whatsoever - fear, empathy, curiosity, insecurity etc. It seems however that information used to allay or satisfy these motivations can somehow, in certain contexts, create temporary paroxysms which in their unexpectedness, novelty and nature make us laugh (or smile, or simply enjoy - the important thing being that they are experienced as "funny"). In the very serious business of relaying information related to the hunt, or where to forage, or what dangers lurk out there etc these paroxysms could well have been triggered unintentionally by performers, leading to the realisation that such events can in fact be triggered intentionally by artificially reproducing the elements causing them. The comic playwright was born. As was the stand-up comedian, the jester, the fool and the UKIP politician.

PS: Hope the hospital visits don't mean you or someone close are having it too poorly. Here's wishing you or them a "get well soon". There is much to laugh at in hospitals, but as with all comedy timing is everything. I won't even try ...


Last edited by nordmann on Mon 08 Sep 2014, 07:43; edited 1 time in total
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Mon 08 Sep 2014, 07:41

Interesting topic - lots of information about Greek and Roman entertainment, of course, but when did it all really start? is there any way of knowing?

Comedy especially - someone once said that humour starts with the Society of Youth versus the Society of Age. But in which early society did some cocky youngster first start using irony as an effective weapon? Irony is, after all, a particularly effective tool for those denied social power or authority - those who are forced to conform on the surface to the expectations and orders of those who rule them (see mention of Eiron, "a clever underdog" in Wiki extract below).

Starting to use language as a weapon and as entertainment - it's an interesting topic.

PS The word "irony" comes to us from the Greek eironeia which means "dissimulation" or "ignorance purposely affected". Got this from Wiki:



According to the Encyclopædia Britannica,


The term irony has its roots in the Greek comic character Eiron, a clever underdog who by his wit repeatedly triumphs over the boastful character Alazon. The Socratic irony of the Platonic dialogues derives from this comic origin.

According to Richard Whately:


Aristotle mentions Eironeia, which in his time was commonly employed to signify, not according to the modern use of 'Irony, saying the contrary to what is meant', but, what later writers usually express by Litotes, i.e. 'saying less than is meant'.



But irony is (usually) more subtle than other forms of humour, involving as it does the use of language. Presumably knockabout humour and bawdy humour came very early on - and I'm thinking about silent comedy too, always associated now with early films of course, but its roots were in mime:


Mime is considered one of the earliest mediums of self-expression. Before there was spoken language, mime was used to communicate what the primitive people needed or wanted. Instead of fading into obscurity when the spoken language was developed, mime had became a form of entertainment. It then developed into a true theatrical form in ancient Greece, where performers enacted everyday scenes with the help of elaborate gestures. The principle mimes were known as ethologues, and the scenes they would perform would teach moral lessons.

Mime used to "teach moral lessons"  - but also to make people laugh?


Last edited by Temperance on Mon 08 Sep 2014, 10:21; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Mon 08 Sep 2014, 07:42

Crossed posts - haven't read above, but will send this anyway.

PS Re your mention of hospital - have sent you a PM. Hospitals can indeed be "interesting" places where humour can thrive - sometimes. Which makes me wonder why "black" humour ever developed - it's such an odd thing, but it seems to keep us sane in mad situations.
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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Mon 08 Sep 2014, 21:12

Some of the missives purporting to come from Gilgamesh requiring improbable amounts of various precious substances (gold, lapis lazuli etc) for an amulet for Enkidu are frequently considered to be humorous in intent - and there are cartoons (or at least a cartoon) on the rear of a school exercise roundel in Sumerian cuneiform - and the oldest known joke is also Sumerian, and features - what else? - farting.
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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Tue 09 Sep 2014, 09:39

Then there's song. I reckon wolves got that one started..... and why do they do it, I wonder?  And dance? Should we be tempted to believe in the Caveman Hand Jive?
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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Tue 09 Sep 2014, 22:04

@Priscilla wrote:
Then there's song. I reckon wolves got that one started..... and why do they do it, I wonder?  And dance? Should we be tempted to believe in the Caveman Hand Jive?


Not quite Wolves - North Bank Choir, perhaps. Why? To annoy the Baggies. And the gestures aren't precisely "jive".
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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Tue 09 Sep 2014, 22:50

Formal dancers have long been with us. One famed artifact from the Indus civilization circa 2500 BC is a bronze dancer wearing beads and amulets  standing in a provocative manner and of course formalised Hindu dances are ancient.  Dance originated of course from mime - and is still an important part of it. Royal Ballet exams have a section on it at all levels. Modern dance has moved away  a tad - currently it seems to be like a sweaty 3D version stream of party  Twisters; I digress. Suffice to say I am not wholly entertained by it. And entertainment covers pathos so it is also about exercising our emotions. This may well have begun with death rites in the earliest of times; some animals have been observed showing grief. For some reason it is more compelling to watch a familiar tragedy than comedy cf how many times in a lifetime does one really want to se 'A Midsummer night's Dream? (the last time I did it was set in a bus station.... so curtains on that, thanks) On the other hand, Macbeth, Hamlet and Lear can stand a few more repeats for me. And at the end of each I have been entertained. I can also ramble a lot on most things, of course.
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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Wed 10 Sep 2014, 07:09

I suggest that dance and mime, as in ritualised body movement to communicate a meaning, has always been with us, or at least as far back as we have been hominids. I'll wager that well before language developed, dance and mime were used to communicate practical things like where food resources were, what they were, what the dangers might be etc, as well as more esoteric communication such as 'doing the ostrich dance' in appropriate anticipation or celebration of the hunt.

Many animals appear to dance in that they do specific body movements as a means of communication. I don't think I am being overly sentimental or unsuitably anthropomorphic when I say my dog does very specific dances - bouncing side to side on his front paws when he's pleased to see me after being alone for a while, and a bounding anti-clockwise waltz when in pleasurable anticipation of being fed. These two dances are very specfic to the occasion and he never does them at any other time. Of course lots of animals, birds, reptiles, even insects 'dance' in display to attract potential mates ... and bees do very specific dances to tell their fellows in which direction and how far away flowers are to be found. So again I think dance as communication using stylised signs and movement has long been with us.

@Priscilla wrote:
Then there's song. I reckon wolves got that one started..... and why do they do it, I wonder? 

Wolves howl to assemble the pack before and after a hunt, to locate each other during bad visibility or when in unfamiliar terrain, to establish their territory to other neighbouring packs, and probably just to bond together as a group. My dog also howls just like a wolf, but only in his dreams. He's never howled when awake and indeed rarely barks - maybe that is because he doesn't live in a pack and so never needs that form of communication (choral singing just doesn't work if one's not actually in a choir!). But when he does howl .... I wonder what he's dreaming of.
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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Wed 10 Sep 2014, 10:23

And presumably there are different types of howl. Howling to locate members of the pack, or as a territorial warning, or simply for bonding, certainly; but isn't there also a very definite howl to indicate pain - both physical and emotional? The physical pain howl is pretty obvious, but dogs howl when they are deeply unhappy or feel abandoned - just as we do. Dogs do grieve.

I remember one friend, who was undergoing severe emotional trauma following a tragic loss, telling us how - in the privacy of her own home - she would "howl, like a wounded animal". Such howling is not for communication, simply for release of some kind.

But back to entertainment. The ostrich dancing remark made me smile: I wonder when did silly dancing - dancing to make others laugh, to entertain them, rather than to impress or scare them - begin?
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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Wed 10 Sep 2014, 11:41

PS Indeed, when did our brains develop the ability to recognise absurdity?  And why do some people seem not to have a sense of humour - or a sense of the absurd - at all? Is that a defect or an advantage? We warm to people who obviously laugh at the same things we do, and rather despair (well, I do) at those who just cannot see the absurdity of things. But my sense of humour (or what I like to think of as my sense of humour) has often got me into trouble. "Keeping a straight face" can sometimes be very difficult, but is often necessary for survival and/or success.

Is it true to say that different nationalities are amused by different things? Or is that me stereotyping again? Genuine question, so please don't pounce on me and pummel me, ID. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Wed 10 Sep 2014, 22:06

@Priscilla wrote:
Another thing that appears to set us apart from other animals is entertainment. Even monkeys don't play the ape to amuse the rest of the gang - or so I suspect. So I have been wondering when did that all start? It was very well established in the evidence of the earliest of classical  times. In truth I have not looked up anything on this but others may have or can give some pointers as to ancient development. I assume nordmann will have it that religious rites prompted the first laughs.......

Perhaps I should get myself back to hospital where I have just been for a bit again; quite a lot to laugh at in hospitals.


Priscilla,

hope that you are the old one again after hospital.

And yes entertainment in whatever way is also a kind of survival therapy for people in distress. When I first read your text I immediately thought at a history that I read through a thread on a French forum: "les pontons anglais"
The unbelievable story of some thousands of French on an island without resources during the Napoleontic wars and their struggle for survival by organisation from the very base of the community.And among all this misery the start of a theatre...
I know there is in the recent history a lot more horror and unbelievable stories, but for some reason reading that story told by a contemporary had a great impact on me.

Perhaps it is worth a new thread, but as I have done now the research yesterday and read the story again I will try to summarize it here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prison_ship
BTW: I read a gripping description on the prison ships in Colleen Mc Cullough's novel of the founding of Australia: "Morgan's Run".
And further:
http://elpais.com/m/elpais/2014/07/30/inenglish/1406721559_385896.html
http://www.napoleon-series.org/reviews/military/c_denis.html
http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Pujol

And now my story how I for the first ime read about Cabrera in a French thread "Les pontons anglais" thanks to my friend Rapentat...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabrera,_Balearic_Islands
http://www.passion-histoire.net/viewtopic.php?f=55&t=10121&hilit=cabrera&start=30
Message from Rapentat 30 Mars 2010 12h54
For those who understand French...Meles meles?...Caro?
http://goo.gl/MGMV46
About the theatre see pages 73 till 76
But the rest of the book is in my eyes also very interesting as the existence of duels still in Napoleontic times...perhaps also a subject for a thread...?
Read yesterday again the whole story...
as cannibalism...
as hours and hours sitting and waiting at the hole of a rabbit to catch it when it leaves it's hole...
as the chosing of some leading comité that will judge on the crimes commited on the island and whose ordeal is without appeal...

Kind regards and with esteem,

Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Wed 10 Sep 2014, 23:06

Paul - you might find this an interesting comparison.

The Hotel Tacloban - Douglas Valentine

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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Thu 11 Sep 2014, 10:57

Absurdity, Temps, interesting. The Etruscans bankrupted themselves in an effort to outdo each other in high fashion to parade about in and having  possession of odd curios to impress visitors. Tho' mocked by outsiders at the time they took it very seriously. Absurdity comes from observing seriousness I suggest - either in ignorance; watch people looking at modern art or because of pointlessness. Some years on, I still wonder about the old lady we saw sitting at a bus stop with a cardboard box over her head. My friend and I walked on by and then giggled but wondered if we should really have been concerned and intervened in some way. However, perhaps I am reaching the age when a boxed head has appeal.

As for entertainment, people of yore were drawn to awful spectacle - and I have been told that's why many go to see motor racing. Could that be true? Watching cars zoom by surely needs something else - bridges over the M25 have free standing room for that alone. What then defines entertainment?

Not any easy one, but there I've never quite understood the urge to take up pole vaulting, either.

Answers on a box , please.

Paul, same old me? [email=I@m]I'm[/email] uncertain. I can now hobble about and do things that
 appeal but  limp convincingly enough to dodge things that don't.
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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Sat 13 Sep 2014, 22:13

@Gilgamesh of Uruk wrote:
Paul - you might find this an interesting comparison.

The Hotel Tacloban - Douglas Valentine



Gil,

prepared an answer already the day before yesterday...but as usual so busy, as for instance yesterday till half past ten in the evening working (physically!) at some furniture for a tenant...

Did some quick research about Hotel Tacloban.
http://rodhall.filipinaslibrary.org.ph/items/show/773
Yes must be a thrilling read...
And it remembers me of a true story of some Australian nurses kept in a Japanese camp during WWII...
http://www.ww2australia.gov.au/behindwire/found.html

And read the book:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Darling
And an interview with the nurse:




But the interview is a bit boring, contrary to the thrilling book that I read...I wonder now even if it was the same book..."Portrait of a nurse" 2001 and only 96 pages...mine was certainly more than 200 pages and the title was "Behind wires" and it was exactly the same story...perhaps another nurse has written also a book about the event...I can't check it any more as the book isn't available anymore in our local library...

Kind regards from your friend Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Mon 15 Sep 2014, 23:29

Re entertainment - was startled to find Variety show 'Sunday Night at the Palladium' back on the TV menu after decades. And we enjoyed it. I was entertained by two lads with bath towels and a lady who kept changed her frocks every 15 seconds. And I am hard put to explain just why. Must get a life.
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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Tue 16 Sep 2014, 02:22

I don't when absurdity was recognised by humans as a species but very very young children recognise it.  I remember being quite amazed when my four-month-old son giggled at his brother's antics which involved doing something upside down.  I thought it was quite incredible that a very young baby could realise what was usual, knew that what he was seeing was not what usually was, and understood that that made it funny.  It wasn't all that far from people finding the John Cleese walks hilarious.  

I have noticed the same ability to find humour in the absurd in other young babies too.  So it would seem by now to be pretty much ingrained.
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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Wed 31 Dec 2014, 20:34

@Temperance wrote:
PS Indeed, when did our brains develop the ability to recognise absurdity?  And why do some people seem not to have a sense of humour - or a sense of the absurd -  at all? Is that a defect or an advantage? We warm to people who obviously laugh at the same things we do, and rather despair (well, I do) at those who just cannot see the absurdity of things. But my sense of humour (or what I like to think of as my sense of humour) has often got me into trouble. "Keeping a straight face" can sometimes be very difficult, but is often necessary for survival and/or success.

Is it true to say that different nationalities are amused by different things? Or is that me stereotyping again? Genuine question, so please don't pounce on me and pummel me, ID. Smile
In the US there has been much ado about stereotyping by the police. I think stereotyping is a very natural thing to do. The first thing one does when their paths cross with someone else is evaluate everything...gender, color, height, build, how they are dressed and a host of other things, automatically. Therefore, it is ludicrous to assume this natural behavior can simply be turned off by forbidding it. It is a natural self defense mechanism.
I'm not sure that I should be replying to this post due to it's age. If I've made an error...sorry, I'm new but I'll learn from this attempt:)
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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Thu 01 Jan 2015, 07:35

Threads can go dormant for months and then get lively again, Parallax.  My understanding is that as long as a thread is open it's okay to make a comment, though of course it's  Nordmann who  runs the  site.
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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Thu 01 Jan 2015, 13:49

Thank you...I'm glad I didn't step on the forum's toes.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Thu 01 Jan 2015, 13:58

Behold! It is His Foot.
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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Thu 01 Jan 2015, 17:07

Is that the Monty Python foot, Temperance (or is Temperance thinking "talk about stating the obvious") when reading this.  I did have a laugh at it I must admit.
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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Thu 01 Jan 2015, 17:24

That seems to be the inspiration for
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=in1eK3x1PBI
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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Thu 01 Jan 2015, 17:47

@LadyinRetirement wrote:
Is that the Monty Python foot....?  I did have a laugh at it I must admit.

I think the "real" Monty Python foot came from here (bottom left corner):



which is fairly risible (and risquée) too .... whatever are they all up to and why is Cupid about to stand on a dove?
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PostSubject: Sasquatch?   Sun 04 Jan 2015, 21:52

@Temperance wrote:
Behold! It is His Foot.

I'm glad I didn't step on that foot. Even gladder it didn't step on me.
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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Mon 05 Jan 2015, 12:02

Sasquatch? Smile

How did you change that, Parallax? Or did the Magister Pedis do it?


"My toes, my toes!"
— Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time

The Agony of Defeet is a trope particular to Amusing Injuries, I believe. Others' pain is such a good laugh. How nasty we humans can be. I blame Looney Tunes.


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PostSubject: Huh?   Mon 05 Jan 2015, 12:44

@Temperance wrote:
Sasquatch? Smile

How did you change that, Parallax? Or did the Magister Pedes do it?


"My toes, my toes!"
— Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time

The Agony of Defeet is a trope particular to Amusing Injuries, I believe. Others' pain is such a good laugh. How nasty we humans can be. I blame Looney Tunes.

How did I change what? I'm not fully awake yet.:)

I used to laugh at others pain also but I've grown away from it. Laughing got me into too much trouble and with the best of friends. I think it's just impishness. You laugh at their minor injuries but your mind is probably thinking, oh you dummies. Can't help it. Rolling Eyes
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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Mon 05 Jan 2015, 13:03

Huh? Oh dear - I could be in trouble again.

Looney Tunes is possibly on topic - they certainly entertained most of us here, I think. And they are very violent. But funny. When did violence first become a subject for humour? Quite early on, I should think. Certainly for entertainment, if not actual laughs: "A little throat-cutting in the meantime, so that there may be still something going on".

Trying to make Tweetie Pie appear - no success. Where's Trike?
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PostSubject: Re: Let me Entertain You   Tue 06 Jan 2015, 10:32

@Parallax wrote:
How did I change what?



Sorry, Parallax, wasn't trying to be all mysterious. Look at the "Subject" bit at the top of your posts.
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