There’s been a lot of ‘excitement’ about a recent advert featuring a drum-playing gorilla. It’s an advert for chocolate, so I can’t really claim disdain for the product, but…
…well, the thing is, it’s kind of unusual as an ad, but given the fuss made about it online (which, granted, may well be that ‘viral marketing’ I occasionally hear about) you’d think it was the funniest thing in the history of the world, and let’s be honest, it really isn’t.
Oh, sure, it features an ape – and I know a lot of people find apes inherently funny, for reasons I can’t begin to fathom – but if it was in a comedy programme, it wouldn’t hold up that well, would it? It’s the sort of thing which, in and of itself, isn’t actually that funny, and I can imagine it as one of those slightly odd end-of-show items you’d get in a programme like Big Train – imagine it with the credits rolling along the bottom of the screen. A sort of half-notion for an item, but not fully fleshed out beyond the initial premise.
I’ve long held that we expect different levels of comedy or humour in different circumstances; jokes made by MPs, for example, are often startlingly humour-free, as was brilliantly demonstrated some years ago by the cast of the BBC2 programme ‘The Friday Night Armistice’, when they took jokes which had been made by MPs (and laughed at by their colleagues) and performed them in a comedy club. The result, unsurprisingly, was a total lack of laughter from the audience. Whilst comedians often seem to know a lot about politics, it seems the reverse is not the case.
Similarly, a lot of people seem to laugh out loud at text message jokes, compared with people laughing at books, magazines or comics. I think it’s probably something to do with the immediacy of the means of delivery – whilst you have to seek out the printed page, if a friend decides to send you a text joke, it’s there in your hand, on the screen, through the eyes and into the brain. And the element of the unexpected may come into play – when you get a text, it could well be ‘how r U, m8?’, so when it’s a joke and it comes as a surprise, I suspect that has added impact. Back in the days when I used to do stand-up comedy, I occasionally used to lament that I couldn’t do the act by text, as people seem to laugh more readily at those, which lowers the bar somewhat (though my critics might argue that the bar would have to be subterranean before I could count on getting any laughs).
Mind you, I’m not necessarily knocking the fact that in certain circumstances, the audience is more tolerant than in others; within the next twelve months, I have a Groom’s Speech and a Best Man’s Speech to make (no, not at the same event), and a part of me is already relying on the fact that the crowd will be ‘on my side’ in that situation. Especially when I’m the Groom, as I’m buying the audience dinner. In fact, perhaps I shall make their dinner contingent on the amount of applause and cheers my speech garners…
Anyway, to conclude: the Drumming Gorilla advert? Mildly diverting, but not the great thing so many people are claiming it to be File it, I think, next to ‘Vindaloo’ by Fat Les or ‘Road to Amarillo’ by Tony Christie and Peter Kay. Which is to say that in the not-too-distant future, people I know might feel slightly embarrassed to have got so giddy about it. Though I shall, in my evil way, take great pride in reminding them of the fact.