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A Passing Smile

by Zettel 

Posted: 13 March 2018
Word Count: 160
Summary: More about the profound value of laughter and humour than just a single comic. Not my personal favourite comedian but one much-loved across class. Always broad, rarely smutty and never obscene. Eccentric personal life but deeply knowledgeable about humour. A closet intellectual it seems.

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A Passing Smile

Did he strut the world-wide stage
wielding power to save or kill?
No, but he touched a power without rage
that lies deep within us still

Was science his domain
of truth, certain, sure, without doubt?
No, but he treated cant and bias with disdain
that a sense of the absurd might flow out

Was he a thinker, a philosopher so wise
clever thoughts with clever words revealed?
No, but he touched many hearts without lies
to better selves and honesty appealed

Was he doctor, lawyer, or teacher hired
to save or serve or pass on the ways of man?
No, but his work a sense of fun inspired
and throughout, laughter, healing ran

Was he perhaps a priest to show the proper path
or higher still, a king, a queen, or better still a god?
No, with sublime silliness he just made the whole world smile and laugh
a simple, funny, good-hearted man called Dodd.


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Comments by other Members

James Graham at 22:07 on 23 March 2018  Report this post
Sorry, Zettel, I seem to have missed this one. I see you posted it 10 days ago. I think I agree about Ken Dodd. A full comment will follow as soon as possible, maybe a few days.


Zettel at 14:09 on 24 March 2018  Report this post
Quite understand James. Ken's death wasmore the occasion for the poem than the genesis of it. The depth of our instinct to laugh was hte real thought. However most of our comedians seem to be troubled souls and there may be a connection there. What struck me about Ken was that he made people laugh who onemightnot have expected to respond to the broadness of his humour. Unlike many, notoriously Hancock, Dodd was never tempted to feel he needed to be 'serious' to be doing something worthwhile. and though apparently privately an intellectual by instinct, he understood enough about humour and laughter to not try to intellectualise it.  There is we might say 'truth' in humour as indeed there is in say anger.

Is it p;ossible to conceive of a God without a sense of humour?  Well yes but it is hard to imagine worshipping Him; still less loving Him: for humour, laughter, it seems to me is rooted in our imperfections.



James Graham at 15:23 on 25 March 2018  Report this post
I rather admired Ken Dodd, and always felt there was more to him than many people seemed to think. Your phrase ‘sublime silliness’ is very appropriate – with as much emphasis on ‘sublime’ as ‘silly’. I suppose the quality lies in his professionalism, his timing, his rapport with the audience and so on. And as you say I think he understood humour in a way that perhaps some comedians don’t.
Your question and answer structure works well, but I have one reservation. A rather tentative one. The poem is clearly not a fictional transcript of an interview with Ken Dodd, as he would never have spoken about himself in such glowing terms. The last line especially reads like something from an obituary. So having some doubt about the voice, I wondered if the Q & A would work better if it were entirely in the third person? ‘Did he strut the world-wide stage…No, but he touched…’ The voice of the questioner then becomes that of someone who seems to disparage Dodd by telling us all the things he was not, while the replies assert the real qualities he had. As I say, this is tentative, but I thought I would put it to you anyway and see what you think.
Some practical hints. 1.
wielding power to save and kill?
Just omitting ‘both’ gives a smoother rhythm.
2. Perhaps improve the last line of stanza 2 by replacing ‘come’ – flow out, break out, venture out.
3. This line falls a bit flat:
and throughout a sense of humour ran
When composing an alternative line, the rhyme can be hard to maintain. Still, the end of this stanza needs something more to the point, something that carries on the idea contained in ‘doctor, lawyer, or teacher’. All I can think of is
and throughout a healing humour ran
which gives a nod to ‘doctor’ if not the other two. I find the best comedians do ‘heal’ if only in the sense that they ‘cure’ low mood, irritability and other unpleasant feelings. Eric Morecambe did that for me, rather more than Ken Dodd.
I suppose your poem could be read as an obituary – one presented in a more interesting and memorable form than many run-of-the-mill prose ones.

Zettel at 14:49 on 26 March 2018  Report this post
Thanks James. Agree entirely especially third person voice. With slight amendments - all done.



James Graham at 20:03 on 26 March 2018  Report this post
Yes, when I see it in the third person it does seem much better. Glad the suggestions were helpful. I still think ‘a sense of the absurd might flow out’ would be better, or one of the other words I suggested: maybe you don’t like to ‘borrow’ that word because you didn’t come up with it yourself, but the poem would still be 99.9% yours!

Zettel at 23:05 on 26 March 2018  Report this post
Not at all James. Not the way I think of these things.  Flow out is better. That's the criterion that counts.

Thanks again


V`yonne at 14:05 on 03 April 2018  Report this post
I like this tribute though he was rather the philosopher our Kenny, he gave a lecture on comedy that was seriously funny and like other comedians worked very hard at making people laugh. I loved

he touched a power without rage
that lies deep within us

that is a perfect description of laughter -- wish I'd written that line! Lovely.

Zettel at 02:10 on 06 April 2018  Report this post
Thanks V'Yonne.. Glad you liked it.



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