Sunday 24 January 2016

"Unhappy bubbles of anal wind"

Following yesterday's blog about the young Stephen Fry's magnificent monologue "The Letter', here he is with his quondam comedy colleague Hugh Laurie, both on excellent form as, respectively, a baffled and affronted English master and a precocious schoolboy poet. A superbly written sketch, and very funny. Contains many gratifying Bowie references.

Fry and Laurie were a marvellous double act - neither were straight men (if you see what I mean) and they combined verbally dextrous comedy with a great deal of ebullient silliness. Here's another favourite, the sublime 'Language' dialogue. This always has me in fits, not least when Fry pronounces the word 'capable' in a way never heard before or since. Can any of today's comedians riff so wittily on  the difference between syntax and semantics? Chomsky's celebrated "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously") becomes the equally memorable and meaningless 'Hold the newsreader's nose squarely, reader, or friendly milk will countermand my trousers'. The whole langue/parole issue initiated by Ferdinand de Saussure has never been so clearly and cogently explained.

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