Being funny about wine
Rarely are wine videos that funny. But I came across this one recently, and it's very good.
It's a little slow to get started, but when the laughs come they are inventive and unexpected. It's arguably not really about wine, apart from the initial setup and eventual punchline - but it comes up when you search for funny wine videos, so it counts.
Most other sketches about wine are hackneyed and formulaic. They parody wine snobbery with its absurd sniff-swirl-slurp-spit ritual and pretentious descriptors. One of the experts is probably a drunk, and is made to look foolish. Someone else has a silly French name and a hammy accent.
The laughs come wholly at wine's expense, but I'm not being defensive about that. Evidently, these sorts of sketches prove that the common perception is that wine is ridiculous. And let's face it, they're not wrong.
My Disrupt! talk at the DWCC next week is about blending comedy into wine communication. Tricky subject to dissect. Even trickier to dissect and be funny at the same time, which it ideally should be. Analysing comedy without humour is like tasting wine without swallowing - doesn't matter how clever you sound, you're sort of missing the point.
I'm not saying that wine writing is never funny, incidentally. Personally, I like the the Sediment blog, most of the Hosemaster material, Keith Levenberg, Chris Losh and many others. Lots of other wine writing doesn't aim to be funny, and succeeds admirably - which is fine. Then there's the third type, which tries to be funny but fails.
Worst of all is when wine takes itself too seriously. This is what leads to the image of wine as stuffy and arrogant. If you can laugh at yourself, others can laugh with you. If you don't laugh at yourself, others laugh at you.
Incidentally, if you want to read my attempts at being funny about wine, I've just started a monthly column on JancisRobinson.com aiming to do just that. Here's the first instalment.