The Ancient Art Of The Anecdote
Do you remember that time when ...
POSTED BY DAVID PIBWORTH ON 13/09/2016 @ 8:00AM
An anecdote is defined as a short account of a particular incident or event from our past, mostly involving friends and especially of an interesting or amusing nature. Yes, I confess that I'm full of them ...
As we get older, we collect humorous anecdotes, but there's certainly an art to telling them.
copyright: eevl / 123rf stock photo (licensee)
It was brought home to me today as I was driving my daughter and two of her little friends to school. Esther, my daughter, said "Hey dad, tell us about that time that your friend waved to a dummies model in a shop window".
The story relates to a mate of mine who, having taken in a fair amount of booze, was staggering home through Newport Pagnell when he thought he saw a pretty girl waving at him from a window, and thought his luck was in. He stood waving at her for some time before he realised she wasn't moving, and on closer inspection realised it was a dummy girl in a clothes shop.
"He did have the good grace to regale us with this story the next day."
This happened in about 1978, but I'd mentioned it to my daughter who thought it tremendously amusing. She also gets me to tell her my stories such as the time a mate and I were throwing huge rocks into Loch Ness and screaming in an attempt to make people believe we'd seen Nessie.
Another tale told to me by an old chap in Inverness about his brother, aged 23 having dived Loch Ness in a scuba diving kit, and in his words "When he came up ... his hair had turned completely grey ... and he never spoke again ..." This was delivered in a similar manner to Private Fraser in Dad's Army, to anyone who would buy him a whisky. Needless to say, I bought him whisky all day and noted down his absurd but brilliant stories.
Having worked with various traditional jazz bands and comedians of old, I also collect their stories, and now have a huge collection. Some are true and have happened to me, and some are of dubious heritage, but good enough to tell. I always make sure I actually let people know who told me a story and which ones are real, such as me falling off the Newport Pagnell Bridge in a bet gone wrong, and being chased out of the mud by some truly irate swans. The bet was that I could stand on my hands on the bridge, and it turned out that I couldn't. Oh if only we'd had Smartphones back then.
The other thing Esther likes is if I catch up with my old pals (which I frequently do on Facebook now) and show her photos of the people I knocked around with. Like me, they are now all middle-aged and Esther looks at these average looking people and says things like, "So it was actually him who danced naked through Trafalgar Square with his underpants over his head ... do you think his wife and children know?"
I have found that some people don't like anecdotes and say "Oh no, another anecdote coming along", but it's generally those who want to, but can't construct a story simply enough to make it funny. I just don't waste them on those sort of people. I do the anecdote stuff for it to be passed on to the next generation, and also to get them to think about things that are happening to them and to recall them and pass them on.
So it is most definitely an art that I pass on to my girl and her pals, and I really love it when I hear peals of laughter coming from them about something slightly mad from my youth.
"It's the laughter I love to hear."
Also, new ones are coming along all the time. Funny things people say or do are all around us. Where do most comedy writers get their ideas from? Most comedy ideas come from something the writers have seen.
Sometimes we are surrounded by miserable news, and sad, unhappy people, wanting to thrust their beliefs down our throats and boring us witless, so I think it is our duty to try and make people chuckle if we can.
There's nothing wrong with holding no firm beliefs and being as shallow as I am. In fact, I believe it is people like me who keep the world sane.
Until next time ...
David is the owner of David Pibworth Productions (DPP) which provide corporate entertainment and also actors for corporate training and development.
Having worked in the Light Entertainment field for many years and produced shows for Al Murray & Joe Pasquale amongst others, David is in a position to advise on well-known comedy and musical acts. DPP also represent Ray Galton and Alan Simpson's scripts which include Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe and Son.
He is the director of MK Theatre of Comedy who are very well known locally for their stage adaptations of classic comedy scripts such as Fawlty Towers, The Vicar of Dibley, Allo Allo and many others.
He is a long-standing member of Equity and the Directors Guild of Great Britain and has acted in, and directed, many productions over the years, mainly in Light Entertainment, but with occasional forays into Shakespeare etc. Every Christmas he is contracted as an Ugly Sister in Cinderella, currently with 'That's Entertainment' who also use him as a director.
He teaches eccentric magic for The Pauline Quirke Academy and MKTOC also run a youth drama school in Olney from the DPP offices.
David maintains his busy lifestyle is a surefire way to avoid being on any committees. He is married to Julie, and they have one daughter, Esther and live in Clifton Reynes, surrounded by dogs, cats and horses. They live so close to the church that David has instructed his daughter - when he dies and not before - to fire him over the wall from a circus cannon.