Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How I Became Funny

I remember my first encounter with the world of comedy. I was four years old, and a clown came to the door of our house offering to wash our dog for food. I laughed at his funny red nose and bright purple wig, and then my father shot him, and that too was funny in its way. It was then I thought seriously about going into comedy myself, and by the age of five had written an eight-hour one-man show, entitled, "Laughter: The Harbinger of Death".

I performed this show daily in front of my parents for the next six years, and it was, I admit, a source of tension, argument and self-mutilation at the time. Nowadays we laugh about it, but at the time, the comedy was so bitingly real that my mother was at times moved to tears, and at other times moved to Calgary.

I gave up the one-man show at eleven, and began work on my sitcom. Amusingly, my dictionary was missing some pages, and so I gained a false impression of what a "sitcom" was. In fact, rather than working on a sitcom, I began working on a stegosaurus, which was a far more thankless task, and less funny than I had anticipated. It got even worse when the stegosaurus ate our gardener. I had thought stegosauruses were herbivorous, but then I found I had read the instructions wrong. It seemed that every book in the house was missing pages, and later on we found out my father had been eating them. I asked him why and he said he was trying to stop the cravings he had to eat the gardener. I suppose that in the end, my sitcom DID end up being quite successful, though not commercially.

In my teenage years, my love of comedy did not wane, but it did go in exciting new directions. I explored the possibilities of physical comedy, experimenting with comedic sexual intercourse and slapstick ethnic cleansing. But I soon grew tired of the cheap and easy laughs to be had by setting Koreans on fire, and by my graduation year was ready for fresh challenges and strange new worlds of humour.

It was at university that I began devising a surrealist, avant garde brand of comedy, beginning with jokes such as:

Q. What do you call a man with an octopus on his face?
A: Glenn

Q: How many ligtbulbs does it take?
A: Twenty-eight (laugh malevolently)

These jokes found great success among the cafeteria ladies, and emboldened, I set out to expand the themes I was working with, thus:

An Englishman, an Irishman and a rabbi walk into a bar. The Englishman says, I can't fall out of this plane, my goldfish are dead. How did the Welshman know?
A: The surgeon was his mother.

Sherlock Holmes and Watson are out camping, and Watson says, Why the long face, to which Holmes replies, I am a cocaine addict. He then makes Watson lick yoghurt off his violin until dawn. What does this tell you, Watson, he asks. Watson replies, Now comes the viola solo. (laugh malevolently)

Many people loved my new brand of comedy, and I found great acclaim among the Beat Generation, who were by then terribly old and mostly demented. However, the cultural elite did not, and there were calls in several thousand newspapers for me to be banned for life from all sporting events and chemically castrated. Years later I found out all of these newspapers were fakes printed on a home press by my mischievous prankster college roommate Fuzzy Slamwindow. How we laughed. But at the time I was most distressed and went into exile in Tibet, where I learned how to love again.

Upon my return, I set to work rehearsing for my most ambitious show yet, "Breasts: The Musical". The show consisted entirely of me standing on stage in a rubber catsuit showing slides of dead strippers and groaning rhythmically.

The show was a commercial and critical success, described by one eminent critic as "the funniest thing I have ever seen", and by another as "mmmmm". Although box office receipts were huge, I suffered from my poor judgment in signing a contract which guaranteed 80% of ticket sales would go to Richard Branson's Virgin Corporation, in return for which I would have a long needle inserted into my brain. Looking back, I'm not sure what I was thinking.

And so we come to today. I am not resting on my laurels, by any means. In fact, I just published my book, "Not Resting On My Laurels", which is a collection of humorous essays and line drawings of rabbit ovaries. I am about to release "Not Resting On My Laurels Too", a collection of the same humorous essays, but with a foreword by Kirstie Alley.

All in all, I have learnt a lot about comedy in my seven or eight years on this planet. What you need to remember is, it's all about the audience. You're not up there for your own glorification, you are up there to make the audience laugh, and if they don't laugh, to be honest, you deserve all the poisonous gases you get. So the lesson is: make them laugh at all costs. If that means that you have to take off your pants, or eat a small boat, or hang yourself from a tree, so be it.

Laughter is everything, and I assure you, when you hear a roomful of people laughing and clapping and gently tongueing your thighs, you'll know that it was worth it.

Franz Kafka: Grocery Boy

Franz looked up at the shelf stretching away into the upper reaches of the store, and sighed deeply. His only option was to use his pogo stick, and it had only three pogos left before it lost all power and had to be sent to Battery Land for fresh lessons. He scratched his thighs absent-mindedly and found it came clean off. He wept quietly to himself for several minutes, before climbing onto the lower shelf and curling up to weep quietly at others who passed by. A bucket walked past with purposeful gait, and Kafka quick-wittedly tripped it up and climbed inside.

He was instantly transported to a realm of pleasure seldom seen in everyday Budapest. The Bucket-Folk accepted him as an equal, and did not judge him for his views or the size of his bedroom, which was quite small and contained an entire Irish Elk.

But alas, like all good things, his visit to the Bucket-Folk came to an abrupt end, exemplified by the fierce scarring on his nose, and he found himself back in the grocery store, bouncing high into the air, hurling boxes onto the shelf, and sneezing violently on the manager's hair, an act that brought relatively few short-term reprisals, but would, unbeknownst to him, result in his being banished to the lowest circle of hell and poked with teflon spatulas for several millennia.

As the last box tottered in place, and then tumbled gracefully to the floor, killing the Queen who had popped in for a bag of pepper, Franz felt an unearthly tingling in his immoral regions. He sighed. He was turning into an insect again. And still twenty minutes till his break. That was all he bloody needed. 

Memories of Rockweld

Ah, Rockweld. I can still see his furrowed brow, poring over ancient Sumerian texts in the study we shared for all those years. Come away, let's relax for an evening, I would say, but he would not budge from those parchments. He was determined to find proof that the Sumerians had a widespread potato crisp industry.

"I know it, and I must have the proof!" he would cry, his hair standing on end and his ears rotating slowly. "It is here somewhere!" I humoured him, but was amazed when he proved his theory and published his monograph. It was utterly ignored by the world, but Rockweld felt vindicated, and was content for a while. He even took up pipe smoking, until instructed not to by a plumber.

Rockweld was, in many ways, my alter ego, my mirror image, and certainly the best friend I could ever have. Today I feel quite wistful, recalling those long days spent in fevered debate and discussion, testing our wits and logic against the keen razor of the other's intellect. How fondly I remember those lengthy, jocular sparring matches, as we argued vehemently back and forth over which was "the weird one" in Shakespear's Sister. Happy days indeed, as we lived off our modest stipends, and imparted wisdom to our students and ourselves.

I remember when his first novel was published, Rockweld came bustling into our rooms, delighted and waving the first copy above his head in triumph. We drank long into the night in celebration, and he was quite red-faced later when I informed him that in his intoxicated state, he had attempted to write a thesis on the prevalence of fennel in aviary kiosk menus. How we laughed, as I showed him the ornamental Japanese bread bin he had worn on his head, while standing by the fireplace and demonstrating a new dance he had just invented called "The Menorah Bop"

Unfortunately, Rockweld's joy had quickly turned to dust as his book was an unmitigated failure. He blamed the reviews, and there is no doubt that certain critics had harmed the commercial prospects of the work when they pointed out that the plot was predicated entirely on the (supposedly) fanciful notion that the lead character was a zebra who had managed to convincingly disguise himself as a wealthy stockbroker with a stapler and some felt. If one did not give credence to this idea, claimed the nitpickers, then the book, as a narrative, made no sense at all. After sales plummeted from their already subterranean levels, Rockweld, fixated upon literary respect, embarked on a much-publicised experiment to prove that a zebra could, in fact, achieve this task. He failed in this attempt, too, becoming bitter and retreating to our study to drink heavily and occasionally snort derisively at my interior decorating skills.

Still, there is no doubt Rockweld had a dizzying intellect, and I will forever think of him as the most admirable academic, indeed the most admirable man, of our times. It was only later in life that his wits were dulled to a certain extent, and where once he would dazzle parties with his rapier wit and best any challenger at chess, checkers, or whist, he now mainly went to the cinema and threw jaffas at Chinese people.

At least, in this phase, he was happy, and I think his seventy-third birthday, around this time, may have been the most joyous of his life, especially considering his early childhood, when every year his parents would pretend to be wheeling in an enormous cake, only to pull off the cover to reveal an assortment of huge, venomous spiders, which they would then exhort young Rockweld to "round up and pacify", or he would get no presents. Once he had performed this task, they would chuckle knowingly and give him an Al Jolson commemorative keyring, engraved with the wrong initials. Rockweld later discovered that they were, in fact, laudanum-addicted psychotherapists who had stolen him in infancy to perform mind-experiments on, but the hurt never fully healed, and all his life he looked for these people's approval.

I do remember that awful day, the beginning of the end. Rockweld had been unpredictable in his moods of late, and on this day, the final straw appeared to be placed on the camel.

We were calmly sitting, reading and enjoying the view of the black smoke from the smelting plant across the road, when I passed an innocent remark to the effect that I considered West Side Story to be too heavily stylised for my tastes.

Rockweld instantly flew into a terrible rage, hurling his brandy glass out the window, striking me sharply with the corkscrew, and accusing me of being a crypto-fascist and in league with Hammerskjold. I tried to placate him with promises of compensation and trips to the zoo, but he kept up his abuse, screaming that I was trying to trick him into voluntary organ donation, and then crawling under the rug, biting his fingers and crying out "I'm a linen press, you mustn't look at me!"

Sadly, I had to call a doctor, who sedated Rockweld and took him for the last time from his beloved study. He didn't last long after that, of course, dying peacefully in his sleep after confiding to me that he had never really loved his wife, and in general preferred Italian cheese. It was a sad end for a great man, but I shall always remember him with fondness, respect, and...yes, I should say, love. 

Themroc van Harryhausen, Gnu Buster

The kid looked down at the dirt and spat his tobacco out, killing a passing centipede instantly.
'We movin' out?' the kid asked, trying not to show his impatience.
Themroc van Harryhausen, the greatest gnu-buster the West had ever known, looked up from the fire where he was raking over the embers of the morning, swallowing the last of the toasted marzipan.
'You're too eager, kid. I know, I was once like you.' Themroc looked at the sky, almost blinding in its mixture of bright blue and damnation orange, and felt tears prick the edge of his eyes. He refused to cry. He hadn't cried in nigh-on thirty years, and he wasn't about to start now. Standing up and hitching up his belt, he applied his medicated eyedrops and blinked for an hour or so. Finally, he nodded to his protege, and they made their way slowly to the horses.
They were called horses, but Themroc knew, in that deep, elemental, dry-boned way, that they were horses only in name. In fact, the kid's was actually a dachsund. For himself, Themroc had secured himself a thoroughbred ibex, but as had always been the way amongst gnu-busters, the apprentice rode a dog. Some traditions were worth holding onto.
The weary-faced 'buster allowed a smile to insinuate itself across his face with the memory of his own apprenticeship, when he himself had ridden tall in the saddle on a fiery shih tzu. That had been under the tutelage of the famous Portobello Siffredi, and in some ways they had been the happiest days of his life. In other ways they hadn't, for instance, the intermittent hand-holding and French kisses, but he was willing to forget that for the sake of the gnu-busting secrets Siffredi had vouchsafed him. Those days were long gone now, and Siffredi's mantle had been quietly devoured by Themroc himself. Some days, though...he wondered...
The kid was looking at him strangely. It took a few minutes for Themroc to realise that this was because he had been captured by a lynch mob and hung from a tree during his previous musings. Shaking his head at the kid's bulging eyes and throaty gurgles, Themroc cut him down with his shiny gnu-machete, laid him gently on the savannah and kissed his eyelids tenderly.
'Gotta watch for the mobs in these parts, kid,' he said after the young fellow had recovered and they were mounting up. 'Some people don't take too kindly to gnu-busting. Post-modernists and such. City folk. Russians. Franciscan monks.'
'But gnu-busters built this land,' protested the kid, outraged at such goings on and suspecting, as always, that it was all Jack Kerouac's fault.
Themroc sighed and stabbed his ibex in the neck to get it moving. 'Times are changing, kid,' he said wistfully and with a touch of lavender. 'The ranges ain't so open no more, the grass don't grow quite so tall, folks ain't free and easy with their vittles, the towns have swallowed up the prairie, the hippo's gone a-lookin' for greener pastures, and the nabob, we he just up and scuttled, y'all.'
The kid was silent. He looked down at the neck of his dachsund, and stroked it thoughtfully. Not for the first time, he found himself wondering in his heart of hearts what Themroc was talking about. Sometimes it seemed they spoke a different language. Sometimes they did speak a different language, and it was Urdu. Some days all that was ahead of them was grass, heat, a herd of giraffes and an overdraft, and if it wasn't for his faith in gnu-busting as a man's pursuit, he would crawl into the bottom of a whisky bottle and make a model ship.
Themroc noticed his partner's taciturnity. he reached over with the gnu-prod and shocked him with concern.
'K, kid?' he asked, with the lazy southern drawl that he had picked up last week in a saloon. 'The gnus'll be comin' up by an' by.'
'I'm fine, sir,' said the kid loyally as his arm slowly slipped from its socket due to a congenital disorder. 'Just doin' a mite thinkin''
'Better wrap it up, son,' said Themroc, smiling evilly for the hell of it. 'Them gnus be comin' over the horizon, and there's bustin' to be done.'
He spoke the truth. In two minutes time, they were the centre of a heaving, sweaty tornado of hoofs, horns, wild, unbridled grunting and whispered murmurings of romance and indiscretion. At the end of it, seventy fine gnus had been busted, and many hundreds more were dead. The kid, screaming wildly, was feasting on the remains, face covered with blood and pale as a midnight hamster. Themroc laid a weatherbeaten glove on his shoulder.
'None o' that, son,' he said. 'We came to bust these gnus for Mister Gramboko, and we done busted 'em. Now we bring 'em in, but let the rest bury their loved ones. Never step on a gnu' religious traditions, it shows disrespect. And out here, sometimes, respect's all a body's got to stop him becoming sexually confused.'
'They're just gnus,' the kid protested, mouth full of the peculiarly sticky mass you get in gnu bladders. 'And ain't we gnu-busters?'
'A gnu-buster don't despise the gnus he busts, kid. That's a lesson you gotta learn if'n ever you wanna get offa yer dachsund. We fight 'em, we bust 'em, we even kill 'em, but we respects 'em. We're like brothers. Who kill each other. Man and gnu gotta be able to look each other in the face, or else, there's no point to this crazy ol' world, and we may as well just go pick up whores in Nairobi. Treat 'em with honour, kid, it's the only way. It's the gnu-buster's code.'
'What's the gnu-buster's code?'
'And what does that mean, huh?'
'You'll find out, son, you'll find out.'
'And Themroc, with a dig of his heels and a vibration of his thighs, wheeled his ibex around and headed for home. but in his heart he remembered the day he found out what the code meant, and the way his life was never the same afterwards, as family, friends, and motor function left him and he found himself out on that lonesome savannah, busting gnus, bedding women, eating spinifex and playing practical jokes on slow-witted zebras. Life could never stay in one place for a gnu-buster, not even the greatest the world had ever known. because that world was changing, and no matter how many times he busted a gnu, trained an apprentice, married a Filipino or rode that long, lonesome trail from Cairo to Cape Town, the aching would remain. The aching that said...Themroc, your time has passed...
He felt the pricking again. He wiped his eyes, dug his heels in, and rode...away. 

A Tale Of Men

I looked up from the ashes I was dutifully raking over and shot a quizzical glance at my companion, who was pointing southwest.
‘Smoke over there.’
‘That’s another one gone then.’ I sighed and raked some more ashes. The wind, once arrived, would blow the ashes away, as per the agreement, but for now it was very important to rake them into piles. The piles were very important. But still, my back was starting to ache. I had not been warned about this. I wished I had chosen a lighter rake.
My companion was putting on a hat. For the sun, he said, although privately I thought it was just to make him look pretty. He was not pretty. He had a long nose and his chin was too bony. The hat didn’t help. It made him look like a cow.
I hated him sometimes. But he was my friend, so I kept it hidden.
I sighed, again. ‘It’s always them that blow the cities up,’ I said, ‘and us that have to clean up.’
‘Yes,’ said my friend. I hated how he said that. I raked another pile and wondered where the wind was. The wind was always late. Someone should write a letter.
‘What will they do with the city now?’ he asked. ‘Rebuild it again?’
‘Probably,’ I said, kicking the ashes playfully.
‘That’s what they did last year.’
We were silent for a while, enjoying the sunlight and the view of the explosions. He was first to speak.
‘They caught him, you know.’
‘Caught who?’ I was so startled by the sudden speech that I kicked over one of my ash-piles, and inside I cursed the knowledge that I would now have to work overtime.
‘The fellow who did it.’
‘Who was he?’ I tried to sound disinterested, as I didn’t want him to know that his information was important.
‘I’m not sure. A mad bomber I expect. They tend to be.’
‘Well, why would you do it if you weren’t?’
‘Unless it was a sane bomber.’
‘Hm. That’s a scary thought.’
Once again silence as we contemplated the horror of a sane bomber. Eventually I decided that some things are best unthought of, and returned to the issue at hand.
‘Where is he?’ I asked my companion, who had just changed hats. This one softened his chin but made his eyes stick out. I looked at him with undisguised loathing. He blushed prettily.
‘It was a present from Graham,’ he explained. I waved impatiently. I didn’t care.
‘Where is he?’ I shouted, all pretence dissolved.
He pointed wordlessly, with what looked like a finger.
Upon the blasted landscape, I saw a courthouse. A squat brown box, distinguished only by the huge aluminium scales atop it. They were in perfect balance, the iron dagger of justice weighed evenly against the wooden owl of truth. The scales were blindfolded, and I myself could not believe my eyes.
‘How in the world did that survive the explosion?’ I asked in tones of incredulity and anger, mingled with sugared persuasion, for I knew my companion to have little patience for aggression.
‘It didn’t.’
‘What?’ this was beyond all reasonable bounds.
‘It didn’t survive. It was flown in specially.’
‘Well I’ll be damned.’ I was stunned enough to lean on my rake for a full five seconds so as to catch my breath.
‘The wonder of modern science!’
‘Indeed. When I was a boy courthouses had to be taken to pieces and transported brick by brick in vans. They had to be reassembled at the other end.’
We stood in nostalgia for a moment.
‘Shall we go?’ My companion was giving me a roguish grin. He had another hat on, a huge one with a leather brim. It was absolutely revolting.
I decided to play dumb. Pulling a moronic face I slurred, ‘Go where?’
‘To the courthouse,’ he replied, winking.
I had had enough. ‘We have ashes to rake!’ I yelled. ‘Don’t you even care?’
‘Let the wind take care of them,’ he replied. ‘This is a chance for adventure. I’ve never been in a courthouse before. Besides, I’m hungry.’
I considered. He had a point. He was hungry. A man needed food, did he not? And the wind was sure to be along. I looked at my feet, struggling with the moral choice: go and have adventures at the courthouse bistro, or stay and attend to duty, and let my partner starve to death? The latter option was tempting, not least because I hated my friend as much as it is possible for one man to hate another without somewhat disliking him. I stared at my feet a while longer, enjoying the patterned suede, but my shoes held no real answers.
‘Very well,’ I said at last. ‘We will go. But first let me do something.’
I gathered all my ash-piles up and poured them into my apron. If I was caught out, I planned to produce them as evidence.
Overhead a helicopter whirred. It was dumping water on the remaining fires left over from the bomb. The pilot looked down on us through huge goggles and waved cheerfully, before releasing several tons of water onto our heads.
‘Do you have a towel?’ I asked my partner, heaving myself back to my feet. ‘I’m wet.’
‘I’m wet too,’ he replied, sobbing quietly to himself. ‘And hungry.’
“You poor thing,’ I said, faking concern, and yawning. ‘We’d better get to the Courthouse. They have automatic hand driers in the bathrooms. We’ll put you under one of those, and buy you some sandwiches. All right sweetie?’
‘Yes,’ he sniffled, miserably, like a filthy drooling coward.
And so we walked to the courthouse, ash in our pockets and water in our hair. And as we walked, the courthouse moved away, and as we walked faster, it moved further, and as we ran, it took flight, and as we cried out for it to stop, we saw that the helicopter had picked it up, and it was flying away again. The trial was over, the bomber had been sentenced, and the courthouse was going home for a well-earned rest.
But my companion and I were lost in the wasteland, and we sat, weeping onto our rakes, eating ashes and mourning what might have been. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Why I'm Alive

Why am I still alive? Well I think it's because I'm a fighter, because I am determined every day to struggle with all my might against the will to self-destruction. I think it's my courage that has kept me alive.

Haha, just kidding. Actually the reason I'm still alive is that every time I reach the point where it seems like maybe it'd be better if I wasn't, I find myself struck by one or all of a number of points:

Firstly, I am still alive because of spite. There are enough people in the world who I know would be happier if I was dead, that it seems worthwhile staying alive just to make their lives a bit more miserable.

Secondly, I know that on the occasion of my death, everyone who ever knew me, or pretended to know me, or heard of me, or didn't hear of me but got told about me after I had in fact died, is going to weigh in with some damn opinion or other.

Some of them are people who have treated me like shit in life, but are going to act like we were the best of friends once I'm dead.

Some of them are people who are going to pretend that they understand why I died, and try to explain it to other people, and argue endlessly over whose theory of my death is the more accurate, and the more compassionate.

Some of them are people who are going to be secure in the knowledge that my death is all about them, and tell the world how pained and soulful they are so everyone understands that my dying has many victims, but none so tragic as this particular casual acquaintance.

Some of them are going to say how sad it is that I have died, and follow that statement with "but..." so they can explain how actually it's not really all that sad.

Some of them are going to write blogs and thinkpieces explaining how really it was all my own fault. And some of them are going to write blogs and thinkpieces explaining how really it was all the fault of someone or something that by coincidence they were already writing blogs and thinkpieces about before I died.

Some of them are going to use the circumstances of my death to trigger a petition.

Some of them are going to get incredibly angry that anyone is sad about my death, when there are much SADDER things to be sad about, and isn't it just incredibly narrow-minded of us to be sad about my death?

And the point is, when I'm dead, I can't tell everyone having a public reaction to my death to go fuck themselves in their fat ugly faces. So I really have no choice but to stay alive when you think about it.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Bachelor Recap: Choppers, Campers, and Wing Defence

Previously on The Bachelor, Holly never had a man go to so much trouble for her, and by "man" she meant "television production crew". Also Laurina was the target of anger from everyone in the mansion/country.

Tonight, we look forward to the continuation of this year's theme: "women who Ben can't remember the names of".

The episode begins with Blake playing basketball and hoping that the woman he spends the rest of his life with will be amongst this group of ladies, because if he has to fund another series out of his own pocket it will put a major strain on his finances.

Meanwhile, nobody is playing basketball at the mansion, but Osher, who is still fighting his brave battle against the hairdo that threatens to eat his head, comes in with an envelope. Amber is hoping the envelope is to ask her on a date, because she hasn't been on a date yet, but actually it is Lisa who the envelope asks, "Do you feel the need for speed?" Yes, Blake is taking Lisa to do some amphetamines together.

"Oh my god it's Blake!" exclaims Lisa as Blake comes into view - she had no idea he'd be coming to their date. Blake is standing in front of a helicopter, which is terrifying for Lisa, who is afraid of heights. "I'm going to have to jump out of a plane!" she exclaims, never having learnt the difference between a plane and a helicopter.

Up in the air, they experience the kind of romance that you can only get through a static-riddled conversation over radio headphones. The helicopter lands in the Hunter Valley and Lisa gets on Blake's back as her legs stopped working or something.

Then they both get in planes - separate planes, as they are not yet married - and the planes fly around and do some tricks for a bit and they have more static-filled romantic conversations, which are if anything even more romantic for the fact they are not in the same cockpit.

Blake informs us that in a partner he looks for someone who is "up for anything", and so he now takes Lisa to watch the movie "Donkey Punch".

Sorry, misheard, it's actually LUNCH they're going to.

Meanwhile, back at the mansion, Sam wants to clear the air with Laurina, and some misguided producer has decided that there are viewers out there who care. Sam tries to explain where she was coming from, but Laurina wants to explain how Sam is wrong about everything, but Sam wants to explain how in fact Laurina can shove her opinion up her weaselhole, which causes Laurina to explain how she has a very tight, shiny face.

Back to the date, where Blake is now carrying Lisa in his arms. The two are clearly very very compatible - Lisa's love of not walking complements Blake's desire to carry human beings around perfectly.

"We've spent a lot of time together today, haven't we?" says Lisa, slowly gaining a dim comprehension of the mechanisms of dating.

Apparently they are dining at Blake's favourite restaurant, and indeed Blake's mannerisms and body language suggest that he has possibly been there at some point previously in his life. Maybe it was even as a customer.

Back at the mansion another envelope has arrived and Amber is still bitching. The missive says "Better out than in", meaning Blake is going to take the girls on a vomiting trip.

At this point we are made aware that there is a woman called "Stacey-Louise" on the show, which comes as quite a shock to us all. Also "Shana", apparently.

Amber still doesn't get to go on a date. She is very angry about this and complains in a pretty attractive way, so probably Blake will want to take her on a date soon so he can get to experience her whininess close up.

On the date, Lisa is explaining how her father is a loveably oppressive tyrant and Blake subtly tries to determine whether he is likely to be murdered if he pursues this relationship. Blake then asks Lisa whether she's been in love before. Lisa explains that she hasn't been in love, but she has had a lot of experience in saying nonsensical, confusing sentences.

Blake tells us that he can sense that Lisa has a lot of love in her and around her and sort of clinging to her clothes and dripping off her hair and running out of her nose.

We now go back to the house to see what the much-hyped devastating phone call to Holly from her mum is all about. It turns out that it's about Ten pretty much lying to us: her mum has called to tell her that she has been chosen to play in the Australian Netball League and this is a problem for some reason that is not specifically elaborated. I guess it's because we all know no man would ever want a long-term relationship with a netballer.

While Holly agonises about the choice between positional bibs and muscly enormous-toothed men, Blake and Lisa eat chocolate in a room full of far too many candles to constitute a fire-safe workplace. Then they kiss and Blake tells us that it was a really beautiful moment, possibly even as beautiful as the moments in the last few days when he kissed other women, and with luck, almost as beautiful a moment as the moments to come when he will kiss even more women. There is no doubt that the romance of systematically cycling through a series of women's lips is really hitting home.

Back at the mansion, someone is playing a guitar with amazing enthusiasm, and Lisa enters to shove her rose in everyone's face. Amber hates her with a passion. All the ladies show an amazing ability to smile despite their explosive rage. Lisa thinks her kiss with Blake was Blake's first kiss on the show, which is pretty funny.

Jess gloats about how actually Blake's first kiss was with her. She kept it a secret because it was so special, although surely every passing day makes it clear how untrue that is.

The next day Blake takes his selected group daters out into the woods. Osher, whose hair is now entirely computer-generated in post-production, explains that they are going on a camping trip, just like the movie "Deliverance". Blake and the ten ladies head into the wilderness, with only their backpacks and the camera crew and the producer.

Blake finds it interesting what order the women walk in, which tells you a lot about how interesting Blake is. Kara walked at the front, which she thinks is her leadership skills coming out, but then she's not a thinker.

Back at the mansion, Jess is wondering whether other girls' dates were as special as hers. I guess we'll never know.

At this stage it becomes very obvious that there are far too many women on this show. Nobody can keep track of all of them.

They arrive at the campsite, which Blake thinks is as good a place as any to set up camp especially given the producer just told him to stop and set up camp here. It is no doubt a beautiful unspoiled piece of native wilderness even though it actually looks a bit like someone's driveway.

"All I can think about is Blake, netball, Blake, netball, and it's really distracting me," Holly confides, and that's understandable: I'd be distracted by such a boring train of thought too. Holly has a big decision to make for reasons which remain unclear - netball or a man she doesn't really know? The eternal dilemma.

That night, Blake proposes a toast to the outdoors, which is a bit weird. Would you trust this man enough to go to sleep in a forest near him?

Blake takes Zoe off for a one-on-one chat. Zoe tells Blake she sense there are many layers to the Blake onion, inasmuch as he makes everyone cry and can be unpleasant to find in your hamburger. Blake, honoured to be compared to a bulb vegetable, offers Zoe a rose. And so, naturally, it is time for truth or dare, a game which is as uncomfortable and awkward as it is dull and tedious. Blake is asked whether he prefers blondes or brunettes, and fails to give the correct answer, ie: "Don't be such a dickhead".

Blake, asked why he decided to be on The Bachelor, finds the inner courage to confess that he believes that things happen for a reason. Presumably one of those things that happen for a reason is getting the chance to make out with a big stack of hot chicks. He then gives Alana a rose, despite her oversized beanie and a slightly aggressive attitude. Some other women are jealous and consider Alana a threat. I don't know which women they were, I assume they have names of some kind.

Holly is feeling very unwell because of the netball thing. She's been waiting her whole life to play professional netball, even though it says "pro netballer" on screen under her name, so whether she already is or isn't playing professional netball is a bit up in the air. But suffice to say she has received a netball opportunity, one of those netball opportunities that you just refer to as "a netball opportunity" without ever going into any detail about it at all. She tells Blake about her netball opportunity, this opportunity which would allow her to play netball, and the strict rule that Australian netball authorities have against their players competing in prime time dating shows. It is a very tense moment so Blake and Holly cut to an ad to assist with the suspense. Both of them are shocked to hear the news about Choices Flooring.

We cut back to the show, where the same thing that just happened happens again in case we've forgotten. Holly admits that she cannot walk away from netball, which technically is not what she was being asked to do, but anyway, she is leaving to chase that netball opportunity which will provide her with a great opportunity in the field of netball, one of the best netball opportunities in her entire career of having opportunities and playing netball.

Holly tells the other women of her decision, making it quite clear that it involves netball and an opportunity, and the women bravely pretend to be sorry to see her go. And so off Holly goes, leaving only one question to be answered: why was it her mother who rang to tell her about the netball opportunity? Is it usual for Netball Australia to communicate via mother?

Back at the mansion, it's cocktail party time, and it's time for Amber to hate Laurina's guts and to say "keep your friends close and your enemies closer", which is something people often say in order to let everyone know that you don't really know what it means. She is not, in fact, keeping Laurina close at all: Laurina hates her too. Laurina thinks Amber is a troublemaker, in that Amber took Blake outside to talk to him when Laurina wanted to go outside to talk to him. Amber is quite proud of her "sneakiness", a sneakiness which consists entirely of standing near the door and saying "LET'S GO OUTSIDE" as soon as he enters the room.

Blake comes back in to say he wants to talk to Laurina, which proves that this is a staged, unreal show: nobody wants to talk to Laurina. Blake and Laurina discuss sparkling wine. Laurina tells Blake she wants a "wild spirit and a tame heart", a phrase almost, but not quite, as meaningful as the mating call of the common hyena.

It's roses time, which means Osher arrives to tell everyone what they already know and valiantly fight off the savage advances of his hair. Two women must leave the mansion tonight, with not even the consolation of a netball opportunity to take with them.

A woman who I don't know the name of is very confident, and keeps saying so, so probably she'll have to leave. Anita isn't confident - she feels like she's still speaking to someone she's just met, though to be fair that's only because that is exactly what she's been doing. But win or lose, one thing is certain: before this contest is over, Anita will cut a bitch.

And so Blake hands out a bunch of roses and oh Anita gets one, so her inevitable murder spree will have to wait. Jessica gets one too, allowing her to continue her deluded fantasy that her date was special.

Blake gives Katrina a rose. Katrina asks him to show her more interest next week. Blake looks at her in the manner of a man who has just been asked to donate his penis to a museum. Katrina giggles in a way both endearing and severely deranged, and trots away, safe in the knowledge that Blake never wants to talk to her again for as long as he lives.

Oh the confident one was "Stacey-Louise" I think. She doesn't get a rose. She can go straight to hell as far as Blake is concerned. Also Charlotte, who was apparently on the show, is now not on the show. On the ride home Charlotte is devastated, but she hopes that one day she can find the strength to once again go on a game show. Meanwhile Stacey-Louise thinks something better is waiting for her around the corner, but that seems unlikely.

Next week on The Bachelor, Blake and Sam eat popcorn and Sam can't believe something or other, while Amber keeps bitching constantly.

Below: Blake and Lisa on their date