It’s Fred Dagg‘s birthday today. Well, Fred himself is not that old, but John Clarke his creator is having his 68th birthday. I’m aware too that no-one from outside NZ will have any idea who (or what) I am talking about, and neither will any New Zealander aged under 30.
But every New Zealander who enjoyed a good laugh in the late 1970’s will now be smiling, and remembering a man who was able to emphasise our stereotypes to make us laugh.
It was 1974 when Fred Dagg broke into our homes via a Country Calendar spoof. I think it was the one in the clip below. That Christmas I suspect most NZ males got the first Dagg cassette tape for Christmas and after Christmas dinner we all rolled around with laughter listening to some of his best songs including We Don’t Know How Lucky We are, and If It Weren’t For Your Gumboots. That Christmas was the also the last time we could sing We Three Kings at Mass while still praying!
Perhaps I have lost my sense of humour, but these old Fred Dagg clips are not as funny now as I remember them being back then. However the Dagg character lives on and he is still making them laugh in Australia.
The ability to laugh together is one of the great signs of faith. Good humour and laughter opens the heart to the deeper experience of joy. There is clearly a lot of joy wherever Pope Francis meets with people, and Pope Emeritus Benedict understood well the importance of humour as a sign of faith.
Here are a couple of my favourite Pope Benedict quotes on humour:
The profound joy of the heart
is also the true precondition for ‘humor’;
and so ‘humour,’ under a certain aspect,
is an indicator, a barometer of faith.
“I’m not a man who constantly thinks up jokes. But I think it’s very important to be able to see the funny side of life and its joyful dimension and not to take everything too tragically. I’d also say it’s necessary for my ministry. A writer once said that angels can fly because they don’t take themselves too seriously. Maybe we could also fly a bit if we didn’t think we were so important.”