The IT crowd is one of those shows that makes you snort coffee through your nose and choke on your dinner because you’re laughing that much. I’ve watched Calamity Jen so many times recently that Chris wanders around the house singing “0118 999 881 999 119 725… 3”. It’s still my favourite episode, but watching The Work Outing this morning whilst the care assistant was bustling around the house, I was soon laughing so much that I had to put down my coffee. Most people still act weirdly around people with visible disabilities and it’s scenes like these that makes it somehow more normal. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has a story about pulling the red chord accidentally. Me, I thought it was the light switch wobbling out in the middle of the night at Frenchay hospital in Bristol. Silly silly design. White chord on the right – light switch; red chord on the left – emergency call switch. Right. I’ll remember that next time.
Most people equate needing to be taken care of a little with somehow not being an adult. There’s a scene in the episode where Roy is treated like he’s about three years old. It’s funny, but unfortunately rather too familiar. I understand that it’s a difficult line to see. I have seizures, I pass out, I get confused when I have a bad migraine or when I sustain a concussion which happens more often than it should. I’m spoiled married to Chris who will patiently answer the same question a dozen times slowly and clearly without getting upset because I don’t understand the answer and yet similarly he’ll listen to the whole plot line of a movie whilst I lie in the bath and when the conversation starts with ‘I just didn’t get what the sphere was, now I get it and it all makes sense. It’s like this…’, he settles in on the side to make sure I don’t drown and stroke the cat and just listens without comment. I’m erratically competent and he takes that at face value.Most people see the wheelchair and particularly those whose assistance I need tend to think that because I’m not 100% capable of being physically independent I’m somehow unable to make any decisions or understand any word that has more than five letters at all times.
On my worst days, even when I’m a little dazed and confused, I’m still an adult. I’m still a person with wants and needs and rights and preferences that reach further than which order I’d like to put my clothes on. And I’d like to be treated as such. It’s nice to watch something that makes the person in the wheelchair look cool and the person talking down to them a little nuts. I usually find comedy difficult. I have to think about the joke, think about why other people would consider it funny and in that context I then decide whether it’s funny based on how close the first comes to the second. It’s how I’ve always defined humour because I just didn’t get the funny. I got the joke, I just didn’t understand why anybody would think it’s any good. It wasn’t until I started watching and enjoying series like The IT Crowd and Chuck that I understood that funny wasn’t a concept, it was an experience. The snorting coffee through your nose kind of experience because you started laughing helplessly and just can’t stop or control it. It’s funny just because:
Roy: I don’t know why they just couldn’t keep it as it was. How hard is it to remember 911?
Moss: You mean 999.
Roy: I mean 911!
Moss: That’s the American one, you berk