Poking my head up from under the train wreck which is a family of five with the flu, I'm looking for optimism. And it comes to me in an offhanded way in an email from the Quebec historian Jack Little. Jack's email reminds me that history just might make you funny.
Well, perhaps not Jack or me, but other people that we know. Here is my incontrovertible anecdotal evidence.
We can start with Jack's son Mark Little who is a very funny comedian and the son, obviously, of a historian. He's part of the troupe picnicface who have a show on the Comedy Network. And he's also a pretty good stand up if this youtube clip is anything to go by. (The whole thing is smart, especially the bit partway through about the 'train to racism'.)
That's exhibit one.
The second bit of anecdotal evidence came last fall when I was watching a stand up comedian on the TV and I had the strangest feeling that I had seen the guy before. At the end of the bit, his name comes up - Charlie Demers - and I realize that this is the Charlie Demers who was doing his MA in Canadian history at Simon Fraser University when I was finishing my PhD.
Now Charlie is regularly on the CBC comedy program The Debaters and was a host of the CityNews show The List in Vancouver.
Well, that's it! Not impressive statistically. But it still seems somehow important that the only two professional comedians that I can claim any kind of personal knowledge of both have ties to Canadian history.
So Canadian history might be boring, but if only you talked to the historians' kids and the guys who left grad school to do something else - then it would be all laughs.