Thursday 15 March 2012

A comedy of landscapes

As I cycled up the 1 in God knows what of Nugent Hill this morning my mind turned to lighter thoughts: how funny is landscape?

And I don't mean those mildly amusing walking books with titles such as Two men and a bog or rural comedy postcards, usually featuring sheep or rain, or both.

A countryside theme can be found in a few conventional television comedies. The Fast Show in particular had several, sometimes quite poignant, sketches in this vein - 'The Rambling Hiker', 'Johnny Nice Painter' and 'Ted and Ralph':

And Reeves and Mortimer have always been partial to a bit of rural strangeness:

Film operates with a broader canvas and there are some notable stand-outs that rise well above such vignette's, providing an element of satire and social commentary alongside the laughter. Mike Leigh's Nuts in May will be familiar to anyone who has had a less than successful camping weekend in the country. In Withnail and I our two decadent heroes struggle to find comfort in a bleak Cumbrian farmhouse, whilst being circled by various local grotesques and the larger-than-life Uncle Monty. Before the action decamps to London, the opening scene-setter to the comedy-horror classic American Werewolf in London, is an atmospheric spine-tingler of a walking trip for two innocents abroad through a mist-bound Yorkshire moor (albeit filmed in the Welsh Black Mountains), with a visit to the less than tourist-friendly Slaughtered Lamb pub. 

My personal favourite is Tom Jones, a rip-roaring romp through eighteenth century England that really captures the bawdiness and vitality of country life before Victorian Values kicked in with an emerging Sixties swagger; particularly when Hugh Griffiths is on screen as the winningly uncouth Squire Western:

So, anyway, does anyone have any good landscape-related jokes or favourite comedy moment?

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