Amelia, what do you find funny?
I appreciate humour that reacts against the current politically correct climate we live in. I recently saw this old Asian woman in the spa of the council pool who was wearing yellow plastic glasses frames (no lenses) and a yellow vinyl golfing cap. She was kind of asleep up against the spa’s jet and was very oblivious to the attention she was garnering. My boyfriend leaned over and whispered ‘is that like looking into the future?’ which I found extremely amusing (for those who do not know, I am half Indonesian). So, in summary, my moral correctness compass falls by the wayside when it comes to humour. I was amused by the old lady, and by my white boyfriend’s joke based upon my race. But I do seriously think it is important to occasionally shed the political correctness that is riddling everything nowadays. We are slowly losing the ability to make up our own minds about what is appropriate or not and I think humour cuts through that.
What do you find funny, David?
Those who know me know my humour is fairly complex with many, many influences. I still find Ren and Stimpy funny. Then there is the film Postcards from the Edge, especially the scene where Meryl Streep is kissing this dropkick actor played by Dennis Quaid:
I thought I was immune to movie stars. But I’ve wanted you from the first time I saw you on-screen. And that never happens to me.
You’re the realest person I’ve ever met in the abstract. You had a shot in “Public Domain” where you looked at the camera, into me … and I loved you. I can’t explain it.
You’re doing pretty well.
But you’re my fantasy, and I want to make you real. Let me love you.
You’re serious? … I don’t know when you’re kidding.
I’m serious. You’ll never be sorry.
You sound like a rug salesman. My rug salesman.
It’s not as funny reading it off script-o-rama.com. Delivery is important I guess. People who know me are also familiar with my large vocabulary of made up of words that I frequently spit out, interwoven with real sentences. I’m often told to ‘get new material’. I am extremely repetitive you see. I say things over and over until they lose all meaning and context. I like ‘Gong ’em Red!’ and ‘Annnnd stay out!’ from Hey Hey it’s Saturday. I’m known to say this when someone leaves the room in an office meeting.
I grew up on the screwball comedies like Harvey, where Jimmy Stewart has a friend who is a six-foot rabbit that only he can see. I use to tell people as a child that one of the famous directors of the screwball genre, Frank Capra, was a relative of mine. This was then usually followed by, ‘Do you know what my name David Adam Capra translates to?’ The answer: ‘Beloved Man-Goat’. Maybe some people reading this would have sat through this routine once, or twice, with me before. I am very repetitive. I feel like my sense of humour is my undeveloped and childish side, the side I sometimes hide. And I often think it will be the cause of my unravelling. Amelia, are you a funny person?
I asked a friend (the joys of email ‘interviews’) and she said my humour is ‘kinda fucked and that’s funny’, and that I’m ‘self-deprecating and that’s funny, too’. Humour is very much a form of self-defence. If I can take the piss out of myself then I’ve beat the bully to the punchline. Somebody told me I’m funny because I’m from Geelong. In many ways they’re not wrong. Growing up in a kind of backwards regional city makes you develop forms of resilience, and for me resilience is through humour. Generally, laughing at shit is a good way of dealing with it.
I’ve been stuck on a quote by comedian and filmmaker Mike Nichols who is behind Postcards from the Edge and The Graduate. He said in an interview that the most interesting thing to him was the silence between punch lines, the vacuum between the laughs. I think that really influenced the decision to run with the theme of this edition of un magazine. Amelia, I remember having a big nightmare. I didn’t tell you, but it was all about how devastatingly bad a decision it was to have an issue of un magazine focused on humour. I can’t remember why, I’ve been rattling my brain to recall what it was in the dream, maybe I will work it out when I read through the final magazine once or twice.
Oh my God, really?! I’m so flattered that you’re dreaming about me. You should have told me, though I think I probably would have peer-pressured you into going with the theme anyway, simply because it is such a pertinent theme at the moment. Certainly, quite a few contemporary ‘arts workers’ have been using humour to subvert the destabilising nature of politics and, generally, late capitalism for some time now. And I think it was very important for us to highlight that. un contributor Zara Sigglekow curated a two part exhibition called The Joke in 2016 that considered varying forms of humour in contemporary art — from the personal through to the political. And, of course, artist page contributor Simon Zoric has based his career upon self-deprecating works that cleverly critique institutions, including a letter to the curator of the National Gallery of Victoria imploring them to buy a bust of his penis called From the Desk of. David, which artists, dead or living, do you love for their humour?
To be honest, I find it difficult at times to laugh hard at art, maybe because I see through it, much like a stand-up comic watching another person’s routine and seeing through the scaffolding set up to arrive at the punchline. Having said that, I think it’s safe to say artist Sarah Rodigari is funny, just standing next to her at an art opening and hearing her running commentary is enough to make you think, ‘Gee this person should write for television’. Have you found anything funny in this issue?
Yes, of course! Many writers responded to the theme by not only addressing humorous art but also writing humorously. Alistair Baldwin nearly killed me when he wrote that he ‘got an inkling that Chandler Bing might be depressed’. I’m also a sucker for toilet humour. Fart jokes are particularly amusing to me. I think it’s actually because things to do with the body — the abject — are so taboo in our culture. So the section of Kalinda Vary’s article about a member of the Manic Mothers being told she could not breastfeed in the 3AW office was the type of thing that fuels me for days on end — I very nearly peed my pants. I told Kalinda that her article had that effect on me (so as to compliment her) to which she responded, ‘Amelia you should practice your squeeze and sneeze exercises,’ which simply set me off again. David, does Teena think you’re funny?
I’ve been making work with my dog Teena for some time now. I’ve had friends when very drunk ask me what am I going to do when she dies; ‘Dogs only live for ten years or so years…’ (maybe this is the average life span of an artist’s career?). ‘So you’ve got, what, another four years?’ and ‘Do you know that many people are saying your work with Teena is very repetitive?’ (There it is again — the repetition). I think I replied, ‘If my dog dies I would consider buying another one, just like what they did with Lassie’. Amelia, do you think a joke can go too far?
Absolutely. But I’m more of the attitude of ‘deal with it’ when it gets to that point rather than tip toeing around and never being funny.
David Capra is editor of this issue of un magazine. He likes playing with his dog and making art with her on occasion (well for the next four or so years anyway).
Amelia Winata is sub-editor this issue of un magazine. She thinks that pants wetting is the ultimate indicator of whether a joke is funny (and whether you need to do your pelvic floor exercises).