Getting it on and off the Web

Lately, comments from three Johns and a Roger have stuck in my mind... so let me share them, albeit in a garbled paraphrase.

John Clarke is famous as the immortal Fred Dagg and creator of the excruciatingly funny TV series The Games. According to a second John (Smythe), the first John said all comedians are working to achieve the got it moment: the moment when the audience gets the joke.

I'm thinking that phrase, got it, reflects a happy audience's active, engaged, almost possessive state of mind. They don't just receive the joke: they get a thrill from working it out themselves.

Obsessed as I am, I saw a parallel with plain English. In mundane business documents we also want people to get it and rejoice. They may not collapse on the floor laughing, but they should feel a strong sense of accomplishment.

Which reminds me of another John: Ansell's fame is as a political campaign communications genius who (for instance) did a brilliant series of billboards for National Party in New Zealand's last election. He's less known as a comic poet but I love his witty rhymes. Recently the third John said something with roughly this meaning, though much more eloquently:

There's no merit in Plain English itself, but there's merit in what it does: it allows people to get it, in other words get the truth and make informed decisions to run their lives.

Finally, Roger Horrocks suggested the other day that Dr William Carlos Williams could have been a great web poet. He wrote simple, plain English poems that got straight to the point... or appeared to. He wrote them on a prescription pad, which provided constraints of space, as a web page does.

John Smythe: Downstage Upfront
C-for-blog: how to use the web for poetry


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