British humor in the face of tragedy

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

This is some daring humor, in the face of tragic loss:

The next day, Mariah Carey had posted a picture of Martyn in a Mariah Carey T-shirt, accompanied by a devastated quote about the death of a member of her fandom. His brother’s response was one of those jokes that makes you gasp and laugh at the same time: “I was a little dubious about Martyn’s recent bold social media move,” he deadpanned. “But it worked.”

God, the sheer balls of that. How on earth can he manage to be properly funny at such an unimaginably awful time? Properly, involuntary laugh-inducingly, heartbreakingly, inspiringly, tragically hilarious? Their mother, Figen Murray – previously the beneficiary of one of Martyn’s genuine social media moves, when he managed to sell out her under-appreciated knitting craft stall – clearly raised some extraordinarily spirited children. “Martyn’s life was not wasted,” she said in the most noble and dignified of interviews, as she held a clutch of knitted teddies.

…Whatever our idealised “British values” are – and codifying them would obviously be appallingly against British values – they feel to me better embodied in the heroically black humour of Dan Hett in the days after his brother’s murder than in anything Katie Hopkins has said or written, ever. In fact, were television’s Vernon Kay to host an episode of the ITV show Family Fortunes in which 100 people were asked to name British values, humour would probably rank at number two, after democracy and before regarding 40 minutes of unpleasantries about the weather as our birthright.

Without wishing to go out on a limb, any Family Fortunes contestant who answered, “Calling for a final solution?” would probably earn their place in the quiz show hall of shame. And yet, this was what Hopkins did call for, the very morning after the bombing. As she put it: “We need a final solution.”

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