Friday, 1 May 2009

PJ: He came, we heard, he conquered

I sit today in the hills of Christchurch watching the clouds sweep in and the rain fall - arh true bliss. Mind you rather cold down here - ekk not nice - but no one dies of the cold right?

Anyway I sit in a friends lounge which is probably the warmest spot known to man - fantastic. I'm visiting for a long weekend and struggling to stay awake after only four hours sleep in the last two nights - reasons?

1/ Sore neck that doesn't like it if I lay down or sit up or stand around or anything for that matter. It likes it if I go for a walk or make muesli at 3am or for reason #2 ....

2/ Up at 4.30am to catch the red-eye to Christchurch - what was I thinking? I must be mad, particularly as I knew I would be out late (1am) with reason #3 ....

3/ Late night with PJ O'Rourke - thanks to the CIS team, wonderfully organised.

Mr O'Rourke didn't fail to amuse all, he really is the most entertaining and long serving satirist in the world. At some point during the evening he commented that he doesn't have the intelligence that the great economists have. But to reduce a concept down to its core, add current events and brilliant observations, mixed it all together with fine humour shows a massive comprehension and fine intellect. As all writers can attest, it's hard enough doing the first, adding humour without sounding like a bitter fool makes it nigh on impossible.

PJ has the skills to point out a person's stupidity/weakness/hypocrisy, create a brilliantly revealing and entertaining story as to why, and then make us all laugh, hoot and cheer - but here's where a special talent is exposed - the victim of the humour will be laughing along with the rest of us (the Topp Twins and Jon Stewart seem to possess this skill also), very cleaver.

PJ's skills are highly useful in an era where the majority of the population possess little to no concentration skills. If you can reduce a concept down to a few words or sentences, then make them memorable by injecting a huge dose of humour, then you're there.*

Later in the evening I had the great pleasure of talking to the honoured guest face-to-face, which was all a little overwhelming. I've never meet anyone that I really admired before, it's hard to think of what to say and you forget every question you always wanted to asked - really you want to just grin and say 'you're fantastic' - over and over again. But we did talk about 'The Troubles' that we have both experienced - the fact that he has flown half way around the world for a grueling media fest in both Australia and New Zealand is to be admired. I would have to take the rest of the year off.

Of course the Libertarianz were beside themselves that we had tables right in front of the stage and like a bunch of kids we had grins from ear-to-ear. At the first opportunity we pinned him down for a group photo.

* Lynn Truss taught me more about grammar in one evening with Eat, Shoots & Leaves, than I learnt after 13 years of education. Mind you 'chemo brain' stops me putting this into practice - that's my story and I'm sticking to it - I can get a doctors note if you don't believe me. Bill Bryson inspired some kind of interest in the English language - over and above pig ignorance - with Mother Tongue, as well as bringing science to the masses with A Short Story of Nearly Everything. All this via humour.


Madeleine said...

I am so jealous. I so love reading PJ's written material - I linked to my favourite of his on my own blog - but we just didn't have the funds to go.


Next time hopefully!

You look fab in those pics BTW - love yuur outfit!

PS I get your chemo brain - I have drug brain (it used to be pregnancy brain but my youngest is now 7 so I found a new cause via my car accident injuries).

Bernard Hickey said...

Great stuff.
I'm jealous. Sounds like a great night.