Film Friday: The Dream Team

In this 1980s screwball comedy four patients with personality disorders are taken out by their understanding doctor for a trip to a ball game. What could possibly go wrong? Well, plenty actually. Doctor Weitzman is attacked in an alley and the four guys go walkabout. When they drop in on Riley, the ex-girlfriend of one of the group, they hungrily tuck into some breakfast rolls. Riley tells them the breakfast belongs to her current boyfriend Ed, but Jack, who thinks he’s Jesus, replies, ‘Did Ed make the sunshine, did Ed make the wheat grow?’ It’s a line that makes me laugh, if only for it’s unexpectedness. I think jokes are often funny because they give a twist to what is expected. The late Barry Cryer didn’t like analysing what made humour work, he likened it to dissecting a frog. Nobody laughs, he said, and the frog dies! A line which I confess also makes me laugh. The Bible is chock full of powerful humour, but it’s all of its time, and so even when we analyse the jokes, they don’t make us laugh. Elijah cheekily taunted the frustrated prophets of Baal with the line – ‘Maybe your God can’t help you right now because he’s deep in thought on the toilet!’ Jesus told a tale about someone trying to pick a speck from their friend’s eye while walking around with a chair leg poking out of their own. A great cartoon image. And a memorable message. Often the speck of dust we dislike and judge in the eye of another is the reflection of the whacking great log implanted in our own retina. Comedy is powerful and Jesus used it frequently. And his friends never forgot the reality in his tales.

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