Humour for dummies | Pakistan Today

Humour for dummies

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are mostly fictitious, except when theyre not. The publication does not take any responsibility for the views and opinions expressed herein. Batteries sold separately.

News is a funny business. Im not just saying that because this is supposed to be a humour column, but because its the truth. But if precedent is anything to go by, theres not a lot of room in the nine o clock news for the truth.

Those of you who had the misfortune of reading the debut piece published last week (titled Education, anyone?) could be forgiven for scratching their heads in befuddlement and wondering How can a self-respecting newspaper print this dribble? The answer, They can, if they draft a retraction in advance!

You see, being corny funny isnt very hard. Heres a simple example.

Not Funny: Babar Awan is Abu Jahal, says Rana Sanaullah.

Funny: Jo kehta hai wohi hota hai, Babar Awan to Rana Sanaullah

The adventures of Snoopy and Charlie Brown, bodily functions, anti-government propaganda (with the exception of ball-tampering ministers) and Punjabi swear words (A long arm to you too) are usually classified as funny. But the lack of an official yardstick that cuts through class differentials makes it very difficult to make people laugh, chuckle, snicker or ever chortle – but Faraz jokes never fail to get a laugh or two! This, as Im sure you will agree, is a positively horrid state of affairs.

Now, normally under such circumstances, a more dynamic person wouldve taken a stand and gone to any lengths to ensure that justice was done. Printed flyers and distributed them at traffic signals across the neighbourhood. But thats not who I am. Never having been quite the activist-type, you can imagine how hard it was for me to leave the comfort of my armchair, where I have been an intellectual for many a millennium. It was a quiet life and even the pigeons who would periodically s*it on my shoulder had developed a liking for the fibre of my armchair.

But now, I feel, the time is ripe for a new crusader to rise to the challenge. This bastion of truth, justice and the satirical way shall be a lone ranger, fighting for the rights of sarcastic individuals, wherever they may be. This man, nay, legend, shall henceforth be known by the astounding title of Mr Humour Person!

Mr Humour Person (whose real name is being withheld for security reasons) has, requesting anonymity, agreed to give us a declaration of sorts, an objectives resolution, if you will, on how he proposes to reform the humour industry of Pakistan, which has been in steady decline since the Teen Bata Teen debacle of the 90s. Therefore, it is my privilege to introduce to you, for the first time in print, a dummies guide to writing humour columns. I cannot stress how exclusive this guide is. Lets just say that if this particular guide were to make it to the TV screens, there would be a huge Jew Exclusive logo all over the footage, making it impossible to discern anything. Anchors at the channel in question would be grilling top government functionaries and asking them how the leaking of this guide will impact our national security, all the while claiming they are the only ones to have obtained this oh-so-exclusive footage even as the same video is playing on all the TV monitoring screens in their background.

Herein are reproduced extracts from this guide. Ive taken the trouble of sorting through the riff raff and have found the following gems:

Rule # 2: Statistics can be easily manipulated.

It is painfully obvious that numbers, like nuclear technology, can be used for all sorts of good and dastardly deeds. Take the erstwhile issue of education, for example. The same sentence, when uttered by two different people, having two completely different world views, can mean two very different things.

Where an indignant educationist may scream, Two percent of our GDP for education? This is unheard of! Just then, a suave government minister would stroll up with glass of bubbly in one hand and the educationists termination orders in the other, and say, with a slight smirk, Yes indeed! Two percent of our GDP for education. This is unheard of!

Rule # 69: Whenever you hear that sound

The whole room goes red. Sirens start blaring and it feels that judgement day is nigh. Then sounds the bugle call that will summon all dead and undead to the big roll call in the sky. And just when as youre going over your repentance speech, the following words jolt you back to reality, We interrupt this programme to bring you this breaking newsHumaray sadr ka tayyara hawa mein phat gaya hai!

The writer is a broadcast journalist.

Syed Hassan Belal Zaidi

The writer is a journalist currently working in the development sector. Tweets at: @mightyobvious_