Safety Craig Plastic Bags


The little Commentary discussion we’ve been having about humour here and at one of my favourite hangs in the blog-o-sphere The Joey Polanski Show over the last couple of days, has prompted me to consider something that I never thought I’d find myself doing on The Cow, and that is attempting to explain something from the point of view of The Cow’s funny bone.

As you know, my mind turns to musing from time to time, about matters big and small, and when I’m not dreaming about helium-filled donuts, concocting perfumes that Satan might wear, or excoriating Scientologists, I sometimes find myself pondering the really BIG questions of the universe. Like ‘What is it that makes us laugh?’

Joey’s post a haff-dozn jokes I wishd I coud take creddit for attracted a whole swag of japes from the Polanski Show cast, most of the gags pretty darn funny, a couple of them brilliantly so, some of them definitely on the long-paddock side of politically correct, and a couple yer usual run-of-the-mill pub jokes. I posted a few of my own favourites but I was reluctant to put up my most favourite, The Bee Joke, because I know from experience that about half the people I tell it to just don’t find it funny. At all.

So I told Joey I’d put it up on The Cow instead, and corral the humour in its own stockyard, so to speak. In the Comments on The Bee Joke, Joey told what I will call The Centurion Joke as a riposte, and, it is (in my mind anyway) exactly in the same vein of humour as The Bee Joke.

I never really feel the need to defend or elaborate on my humour here on The Cow. After all, it is my joint and if you’re here drinking my beer I expect you to laugh at my jokes. Even if it is just out of politeness. Sometimes I know that I really do make you laugh (mostly because you tell me), but very often I don’t have a clue how funny anyone really thinks my writing is*. And since I like The Bee Joke a whole lot, I’m pretty obviously not the best judge of what other people find funny…

Of course, Tetherd Cow Ahead isn’t really meant to a repository for just my sense of humour, but because I find humour one of the most important things in my life it is inevitable that The Cow, being a fairly good representation of my character (I think), will end up with its fair share of gags. And, the current banter at The Polanski Show notwithstanding, mostly I try to keep my shtick as original as I can. In some cases the laugh-quotient has largely been reasonable as far as I can judge (like my ‘God Creates‘ series and my Annunciations), but there has been one notable lead balloon in the Cow Comedy Cavalcade, and yes, those of you who are regulars have spotted it already: ‘Safety Craig‘.

Sadly, no-one really ‘got’ Safety Craig. It may be just the way I told it, but I think probably it’s because the humour in Safety Craig is kinda like The Bee Joke and The Centurion Joke. And like those two gags, I doubt I can really explain Safety Craig, but I’m going to give it a shot:

For a number of years while I was living in Sydney I used to see a handyman truck around my neighbourhood – ‘Jim’s Mowing’ I think was the name of the business. It featured a do-it-yourself low-rent tone dropout picture of Jim and some ‘handpainted’ style text: ‘Jim’s Mowing: Ph: 12 34 2323′ or something. I just used to assume that ‘Jim’ was some local guy who was a bit better organized than your average tradesman.

Well, on moving to Melbourne, I discovered that Jim lives here as well. Only, in these parts Jim has a painting business. And a pet-grooming business, a plumbing business, a fencing business, a roofing business, a tiling business and even a permaculture business. Jim is one busy guy.

As you have guessed, ‘Jim’s’ is a franchise. Only, it’s a franchise that’s trying really hard to not look like a franchise.† Now, when I figured this out, I started to look at all the other businesses around that use these ‘posterized’ generic faces combined with some homely first-name for their logos and I realized that they are all franchises! In a weird and subtle way, the Reverend A, who likes to pride himself on his high quality skepticism and incisive critical thinking had been duped by a ploy so vacuous and insipid that he is almost embarrassed to admit it!‡

And then one day, now alert to all these cleverly constructed ‘cottage industry’ style companies to-ing and fro-ing across suburban Australia (and I have no doubt across the entire entrepreneurial world) I saw a display set up in a mall for ‘Safety Dave‘.

Something went ‘ping’ in my brain.

Now I’m sure that Safety Dave’s products are all worthwhile, just as I’m sure Jim, and Bob, and Carol, and Ted, and Alice, and all those other franchise denominators provide service of fair enough quality. Otherwise they wouldn’t still be in business. But the thing that made me feel slightly unsettled was that ‘Safety Dave’ and all these other friendly chaps and chapesses weren’t actually telling the truth about themselves. Well, not so much not telling the truth as letting the customer think something about them that wasn’t exactly accurate. And Safety Dave was asking us to put our safety in his hands…

Hence the invention of ‘Safety Craig’. The point is, of course, that Safety ‘Craig’ can’t get away with being anonymous, so instead of following the instinct to ‘trust’ him, as we might with ‘Jim’ or ‘Dave’ we must make our brains wary of his advice. And his advice is the kind our parents used to offer when we were kids, and is, on the whole, pretty much good sound advice, if a little annoying. So the contrast between those two things was supposed to be funny.

Like I said. Lead balloon. But now you know.

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*I’m talking about when I’m trying to be funny, of course. I don’t count the possibly numerous occasions on which people have found my serious ponderings mirthful.

†These days Jim’s looks a fair bit more corporate, and the logo a bit more ‘stylish’ as you can see by their website, but it wasn’t always so.

‡And so you see: such is my commitment to The Cow, that I am prepared to endure public ridicule in the service of truth!

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