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This is a question Guilty Laughs

Are you the kind of person who laughs when they see a cat getting run over? Tell us about the times your sense of humour has gone beyond taste and decency.

Suggested by SnowyTheRabbit

(, Thu 22 Jul 2010, 15:19)
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Laughing in the gas chamber
A couple of years ago at the Edinburgh Festival, my friend K and I decided to take a break from the relentless stand-up comedy fest we were indulging in and spend an hour seeing something worthy. Having studied the programme in detail, we plumped for a play set in a concentration camp. All we knew was it was in a cellar and it had some goodish reviews and that the tickets weren't too pricey.

Clutching our tickets, we arrived in good time to find a slightly nervous looking queue watching an actor in a striped camp uniform leaning against the wall, muttering to himself in an anguished fashion. It all looked a bit intense and K and I exchanged looks of consternation. K has just begun to whisper 'Are you sure you want to...' when a *very* shouty actor appeared and, while yelling loudly in our ears, pulled us into pairs - making very sure to split up groups who looked like they were together. I think this was my first inkling that this was going to be a slightly more active hour than I had first banked on.

We were led into the first room in a series of interlinked cellars where for 5 minutes solid three shouting actors stood on either side of us banging sticks against sheets of metal. Behind me was an actress who kept clutching at my arm and whispering something about avoiding eye-contact with the guards. The general idea was that we had all just arrived at the camp and were lining up for processing. To this day I haven't worked out what the banging metal was supposed to signify.

After some more shouting (and possibly some movement in the plot but I wouldn't swear to it), we were split into new pairings and yelled at to move two-by-two into the next room. As me and my new companion got to the door, I did what any mannerly person would do, and standing back said "After you." Then it occurred to me that this was supposed to be a concentration camp and that my speech had to be one of the most incongruous ones I could have uttered. The same though obviously occurred to the poor woman at the same moment and we sniggered... well, she sniggered and I snorted through my nose. Somewhere behind me I heard K giggle. I think that was the point that any suspension of disbelief disappeared for me.

The next two rooms followed the same pattern: You were split into new pairs, told where to stand and the actors playing the prisoners mingled in with you while the play was acted out. I am sure it was a worthy attempt to try and recreate the horrors of WW2 but, once my giggles had started, I spent all my time biting my lip and trying not to make eye-contact with K or the woman I had tried to be polite to as looking at either made all three of us laugh even harder.

In the penultimate room, the actors were told to strip in what I am sure would have been a powerful scene had I been in a less hysterical frame of mind. We lined up again and were marched into a tiny little room which would hold about 20 people standing up and no more. This was the gas chamber. K had gone in ahead of me having been paired with one of the naked actors while I was against the opposite wall with another audience member. The two final naked actors came in last and squeezed through everyone to stand with their colleague so they could play out the last scene of the piece. Now K is quite a short person - about 5ft 1 - and all the actors were tallish. So the last thing I saw of K was her horrified expression as she realised she was about to surrounded by three naked people in a very confined space. As the they acted out their last anguished moments, all I could see was K's head bobbing about as she tried to extricate herself from the centre of the action with no success. My self-control gave way entirely and I wept with laughter while hoping that the rest of the audience would think it was raw emotion that was racking me. I left that cellar a total wreck for all the wrong reasons.

Apologies for the length but even thinking about this still makes me laugh like a loon.
(, Fri 23 Jul 2010, 16:00, Reply)

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