Humour and idioms

Recently read (while working slowly through a more serious book) were two books from my daughter’s reading pile, Dead Famous by Ben Elton and The Stupidest Angel, a Heart-warming Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher Moore.

Both are narrated in a very modern idiom and are types of humor very different from what I grew up with in the dim distant past of a previous century. Both made me aware how culture and language change constantly. I wince (surely this will not surprise you,) at dialogue representing young people’s speech patterns.  Elton’s book is a murder mystery, set in a reality show where everything is filmed and recorded, but it is also a critique of his shallow and manipulative characters, caricatures, I hope, of modern youth. He skewers the empty quest for fame and celebrity in the midst of a tricky murder mystery.

The Stupidest Angel is weird humor. Granting a wish to a human child for Christmas, his mission, involves him with a boy who has seen Santa Claus murdered and wants him not to be dead. Understandably if you are a kid and Christmas is a couple of days away. The Stupidest Angel though, gets murders, brain eating zombies,(including a menacing Zombie Father Christmas)and a whole lot of things my grandson would think funny. “Zombie” was one of the first words he wanted to spell. I realize that my lifetime has taken me from old fashioned Bob Hope or Morecambe and Wise humour, through the Goons and Monty Python to a gruesome dissociative type of humour that I know my parents would hate and not find funny.  I do have to admit I enjoyed the gruesomeness!

The world turns indeed.

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