On Terry Pratchett, and the art of comedy

I haven’t written anything about Terry Pratchett following his death; partly because everyone has already said everything there is to be said, but mostly because I haven’t really been writing at all of late (I’ve mostly been tramping around forests and foreshores instead, in some kind of effort to become more au fait with the outside world – that thing, you know, the one that isn’t the internet).

JonathanJones
Yeah like we’re going to pay attention to your thoughts about “art” in THAT shirt.

But oh, that Jonathon Jones article in the Guardian has irked me. It has IRKED me. Even then, I’m loath to write about something that is a) so obviously shoddy clickbait on the part of the Guardian, and b) so clearly written by a dead-inside subhuman plod of a man with the same taste in “high literature” as an angsty teenage boy.

(No offence meant to teenage boys. Some of my best friends used to be teenage boys. Luckily, they grew out of it.)

So I won’t write about him, really. I’ll write about Terry, who deserves more words than I can ever give him; and about comedy, which I suppose his books were, in that they made me laugh.

The main trust of JJ’s argument seems to echo from that weird but oft-held belief that comedy – or at least comedic writing – is a lower form of art (or perhaps not even art at all). For me (and I am 100% objective on this, as all matters, and am therefore correct), this couldn’t be further from the truth. The thing I love about comedy – and I do, I really do – is that it has the potential to contain and combine so any other emotional and intellectual impulses. Some of the best comedy I’ve seen and read has made me cry – and not with laughter. There’s something about the sudden incorporation of A Truth – be that one about pain, or loss, or grief, of anger, or becoming, or being – into a framework ostensibly designed for light-hearted frivolry, which makes it feel all the more powerful and all the more true.

This, for me, was the absolute genius of Terry; that ability to speak profound Truths about the world we live in, and do it in a way that was wise, and eloquent, and moving, whilst at the same time making you weep with laughter and joy. And no, of course that’s not what you’d immediately see when picking up and flicking through one of his books, scoffing at his lengthy footnoted asides (which to me made it feel like he was there with me, a benevolent guide, muttering away at my shoulder) and weird SUDDEN CAPITALISATION OF A CERTAIN CHARACTER’S DIALOGUE.

But to flick through is to miss the point, much as walking in on the middle of a stand-up set and catching one or two one-liners doesn’t tell you anything about the overall arc of the show or what it was trying to tell you. For Terry, comedy was usually his medium, but rarely his message.

Anyway – basically what I’m saying is Jonathon Jones is a total dick GO SIT ON A STICK MATE.

GNU Terry Pratchett, always & forever. He aten’t dead.

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