Thursday, April 25, 2013

My laughter fix: PG Wodehouse's Jeeves in the Offing

YOU CAN READ the transcript below.

I DIDN'T KNOW A BOOK can make me howl in laughter until I had read P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves in the Offing. The characters act as if they'd been pulled out of Dolphy's films, but the humor is unmistakably British.  I would've preferred Pinoy comedy anytime—the world has never heard a more hearty laughter than that of a Filipino's—but local scriptwriters always feel the need to elaborate or explain the joke, which is the surest way to kill it. Wodehouse never commits that mistake.

I loved the characters. There's Bertie Wooster, a rich but good-natured man who'll do anything for his loved ones. The last thing he wants is to shame the Wooster men's gentlemanly code. That explains why he agrees to steal a silverware from a guest, badmouth his former schoolteacher, and commit to a false engagement. If he's real, I'll do what I can to be his friend. His butler Jeeves is the smartest, most reliable man who seems to have a solution for everything. Jeeves has no clue how brilliant he is—which is the secret to brilliance, by the way. The moment you announce you're smart, you prove you're not. Bertie's friend Kipper Herring, lovestruck with the most manipulative woman on earth (Bobbie Wickham), is also hilarious.

The story revolves around Bertie's visit to Aunt Dahlia's mansion. His intent is to taste the dishes prepared by Anatole, the French cook, but Bertie ends up managing the household while Aunt Dahlia is away. It doesn't help that other people are visiting, too: the schoolmaster he had hated as a child, the psychiatrist who despises him, among other characters that make the story the funniest book I've read so far.

The tale begins with a call from the most fascinating relative on the planet, Aunt Dahlia. Bertie narrates his phone conversation with Aunt Dahlia this way.

"A very hearty pip-pip to you, old ancestor," I said, well-pleased, for she is a woman with whom it is always a privilege to chew fat. 
"And a rousing toodle-oo to you, you young blot on the landscape," she replied cordially. "I'm surprised to find you up as nearly as this. Or have you just got in from a night on the tiles?"

Have I not sufficiently made it clear to you, dear reader? P.G. Wodehouse cracks me up.

Image by gryphone569 on Flickr.

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