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4:39pm on Wednesday, 3rd February, 2016:

More of the Same


All these things happened in the 1960s.

I was visiting my grandparents in Harrogate and we stopped at a café for lunch. We were discussing what to order, when a woman on another table burst out in very loud, raucus laughter. My grandmother, who was a rather taciturn woman, glanced over and said, "I'll have what she's having".

We were watching a movie on TV, and a sword-wielding bad guy leaps down in front of the hero. He waves his sword around in a series of complicated moves, to demonstrate how good he is. The hero unsheathes his own sword and engages teh bad guy in a fight. The hero has a pistol in a holster strapped to his leg. My dad said, "Why didn't he just shoot him?"

We're at school, it's playtime, and another kid says something ridiculous. He seems to believe it's true. I say, "Surely you don't think that!" He says, "Yes I do, and don't call me Shirley."

Those are just examples. They all happened in different circumstances more than once. That "I'll have what she's/he's having" line was something I heard every once in a while if there was some kind of commotion while we were choosing what to eat off a menu. My dad pointed out a number of times that a hero with a gun who didn't use it when he could have was being pretty stupid ("He's a musketeer, why doesn't he use his musket?!"). The Shirley/surely pun was one of those fads that lasted two or three weeks before it died out, having reached our school from somewhere else (the name "Shirley" and the word "surely" aren't remotely homonyms in an East Yorkshire accent).

I didn't find that one-liner following the Meg Ryan fake orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally funny, as I was expecting it. I did like it when Indiana Jones shot the swordsman in Raiders of the Lost Arc because to me it was as if finally my dad's complaints had been heard. I didn't laugh at the Shirley line in Airplane! because to me it had been done to death already and wasn't funny in the first place.

All three of these movie scenes are routinely described as being absolutely classic moments that are right up there with the best jokes in cinema history. Weird.

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