by Joanna D'Angelo  (a.k.a. missculture)

The other night I went out to dinner with some friends and the topic got around to our favourite TV shows.  One of my friends has become obsessed with Dexter.  She couldn't stop talking about it and wanted to reveal the whopping finale to season four. I passed. I did watch an episode of Dexter in season one. I always like to watch at least one episode of a new series just to check it out and to see if I want to make a commitment.  I can usually tell by the first date if it's going to work or not. But, I just can't commit to Dexter. Not because it isn't a clever and well written show but because I just can't watch a guy who has an addiction to carving people up on a regular basis. Fascinating premise yes, but not part of my "must see" line up.  In ten years will I look back fondly and say - gee I miss that Dexter?  Nope. Don't get me wrong, I love heart wrenching, soul stirring, dark and brooding drama - but when it comes to TV at least, I am first and foremost drawn to the funny.

Why is that? Well, funny you should ask that question. (I'm assuming you asked it in your heads). Funny is what gets me through the day.  Truly. I don't think we laugh enough in our culture and I'm always appreciative of anything or anyone who can make me grin, giggle or even guffaw.  I come from a family of great story tellers - funny story tellers. My nonna (dad's mom) was a master story teller.  Maybe it was because she was illiterate that she developed an ability to weave a good tale. She had a very sharp mind. I remember the summer I turned 15, I went to Italy with my older sister, my cousin and my nonna. Back to my parents' home town.  Back to the little corner of the world where Nonna reigned as Queen.  While we did quite a bit of travelling that summer we also spent a lot of time with family and friends.  One afternoon my sister and I were returning from visiting my aunt, (my mother's sister)  and Nonna was holding court with the neighbours in the alley behind her house.  They sat around on wobbly kitchen chairs and empty wooden crates.  And they were telling stories. Funny stories. Silly stories. Even raunchy stories.  At one point Nonna told a joke about a priest and a prostitute. I can't do it justice but here is the gist of it:

A prostitute steps into the confessional and addresses the priest -

Prostitute: Father I had a dream about you last night.
Priest: This could very well be.
Prostitute: Father, I dreamt that you had your hands all over me.
Priest: This could very well be.
Prostitute: Father, I dreamt that you enjoyed yourself.
Priest: This could very well be.
Prostitute: Father, I dreamt that you paid me $50.
Priest: Oh no. This could never be.

Okay, the joke sounded better in Italian and it was very funny as told by my nonna whom I'm sure is regaling her friends in the great beyond.  I probably didn't tell it the way she did.   I'm not very good at telling jokes. But I do like to laugh and that's the point I was trying to make.  I can't remember a single family gathering that didn't include laughter - great raucous laughter. Also many arguments - but that's for another post.  My father inherited that storytelling gene.  I like to tell stories too which is why I do what I do. 

The other reason why I'm so drawn to comedy shows is because I have what is known as "panic disorder".  I know, everything is a disorder nowadays. But in my 20s I went through a dark period that "unleashed" this panic thing.  If, you've ever had a panic attack then you'll know what I'm talking about.  I'm not referring to the butterflies in your stomach before an exam.  I'm referring to what can only be described as something that feels like you're dying. But you're not. Of course medication and therapy has been a great help. But sometimes the panic "punches through".  It doesn't happen very often any more  nor for any reason  - that is - I'm not feeling upset or nervous about anything before I get an attack. It just suddenly hits.  I can quickly recognize the signs now:  floor begins to shift beneath my feet; overwhelming feeling of doom; disorientation, dizziness, rapid heart beat, feeling faint. If it ever happens to you, lie down right away - trust me - I've fainted before - not fun.  My panic attacks generally happened at night. I'm told that is common. When they first began they impacted my "sleep hygiene". So, I created a night time routine - which is very important.  One of the things I started doing was watching Seinfeld every night. I still watch it - but not as much as I used to - probably because I can run favourite scenes in my head so I don't need to watch it. Weird huh? Another show that helped me was Northern Exposure (in my opinion an honorary Canadian show). I used to watch it religiously as well. I still enjoy it on occasion.  All of this to say - that laughing really helps. It re-sets my inner-peace/balance button- or something like that.

But even before the panic attacks hit I was always attracted more to comedy than anything else. When we think of our most beloved TV characters of all time who comes to mind?  Well, Lucy Ricardo and Mary Richards are definitely on my list.  See, it's the funny ones.  (and women dominate of course).  In  recent years I've added  Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha - they're a package deal.  I loved those "walk and talks" (what better way to show off those outfits). Definitely, Elaine Benes with her love of big salads, her on again off again relationship with Puddy, her spongeworthy philosophy on men and her-let's face it- unrealized love for Jerry.  My current favourite comedy heroines  - I've blogged about them before - but they include Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) from 30 Rock and Erica Strange (Erin Karpluk) of Being Erica. I also adore Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) from Glee.  Although, technically Sue isn't a heroine - she's a villainess - but the funniest villainess on TV for sure.

It takes work to be funny and it's hard to make people laugh. Trust me. I'm trying to do that with a TV series that I'm currently developing with the fabulous Kayla Perrin.  Well, it's more of a dramedy - but there's enough funny that we're shooting for to make it a real challenge for us. But we're up for it. And we've made each other laugh over our characters and their shenanigans - and that's fine with me. Now, if I could just channel my nonna's flair for story telling...

Here's a little gem of Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) doing her thing:

And here is Erica Strange (Erin Karpluk) from Being Erica. In this scene she's gone back in time to her university creative writing class where she actually wows her demanding professor with a "brand new poem" off the top of her head - er - with a little help from Britney.


  1. I'm a Dexter fan - but I have a quibble with the character being a psychopath, as we the audience are able to identify with him, and he shows some forms of empathy for people. I don't think audiences could truly follow a real psychopath, so the series has made Dexter someone we can relate to as a vigilante, dispensing the justice that the real system fails to do. A more chilling Batman, if you will.

    As for comedy - currently The Ricky Gervais show is cracking me up, as does The Colbert Report. The Sheriff of Nottingham on BBC's Robin Hood always made me bust a gut, as does Stewie on Family Guy.

    Hope your panic attacks have been no-shows lately. I have also experienced them, and my husband struggles with agoraphobia, so every single time he goes to work or even out to see a movie he has to muscle his way past anxiety.

  2. Hi Julia -as you probably noticed - this article was a re-post ;) Easter Monday and all - well I always get a few flutters now and then but it's manageable. ;) I hope your husband is okay. They physical feelings can be so overwhelming.

    I like Ricky Gervais too. ;)


Post a Comment

We would love to hear from you but hope you are a real person and not a spammer. :)

Popular Posts