Dada Gunamuktananda and lessons in humour

At TEDx Noosa, Queensland, Australia, on 30 January 2014, Dada Gunamuktananda delivered a talk entitled Consciousness — the final frontier.

Once the initial surprise, at the apparent mismatch of the gentle antipodean vowel sounds and the speaker’s appearance, has worn off this is a fascinating talk and I commend it. The subject matter is one that I constantly hunger to explore more.

This blog though concentrates chiefly on speakers, their triumphs and disasters, so I feel compelled to make two technical observations. If that aspect of life does not interest you by all means cut to the chase and simply watch the talk.

He is nervous. There is a telling symptom to which I will draw your attention in a short while. Yet something, perhaps his yogic self-discipline, enables him to stand still with his hands hanging at his sides as if completely relaxed. This is very impressive. I usually advise trainees against hanging their arms at their sides because it invites their nerves to show themselves through the finger-tips fiddling with each other – a very conspicuous nerve-symptom. Yet his hands are still.

So what is it that tells me, beyond doubt, that contrary to appearance he is very nervous? He is suffering from dry-mouth. Listen, and you will hear the tell-tale clicking caused by saliva that is abnormally viscous. I could give him an absurdly easy and rapid solution to the problem – in fact he could learn it through my book. By the way, it does not involve water.

The other observation concerns humour. I always tell trainees to avoid overt gags, as they are not stand-up comics nor would they want to put themselves through the hell that is the comics’ apprenticeship. Instead, any humour that they elect to use should be applied incidentally as throw-away lines in the narrative. In this talk he illustrates both points very clearly.

He gets good laughter, even applause, with incidental,.throw-away lines at 0:46 – 0:57, 1:45 – 2:00, 9:45 – 10:00, 10:17 – 10:21 and 10:58 – 11:03. Some of these fly by so fast that they are easy to miss, but still they get laughs.

On the other hand, beginning at 7:15 there is a “funny story” that he actually trails as such. It bombs. There is an important lesson there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s