Dead funny by Terry Johnson - Plot and sub-plot.

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DEAD FUNNY by Terry Johnson

Exploration Notes

Ahmed Rashid

Plot and Sub-plot

     The story of dead funny is based on two married, middle-aged couples and their friend Brian, who they know through the dead funny society, which honours dead comedians. This society is a common interest to them all, except consultant obstetrician and chairman of the society, Richard’s wife, Eleanor, who is most proud not to be a member. During the play, they all have their different problems and a story to tell, and discover that comedy is a serious business and that tragedy is to be laughed at.

     The play begins in Richard and Eleanor’s living room; with Richard arriving later than expected from work, boasting tickets to see Norman Wisdom, much to Eleanor’s disregard and indifference. She is too busy worrying about the fact that it’s Wednesday evening, which they’ve put aside for time spending alone together to get their sex life back on track. Their sex counsellor, Miriam, isn’t helping matters. Despite Richard’s pleas and attempts to avoid it, they end up taking Miriam’s advice and begin to enter into some foreplay, before being interrupted by Brian with the news of Benny Hill’s death, which comes as a shock to himself and to Richard but of no significance to Eleanor. They arrange a meeting in remembrance for all members of the society, on the following Wednesday. Brian leaves after a bit of gentle persuasion from Eleanor, who wants to get back to their counselling session, this time putting on a video about couples getting their sex-life back on track, while Richard phones around the society telling the news. It’s not long before they are ogling over the video and are interrupted by Nick and Lisa, in a rather awkward encounter. They too are members of the society and are taken back and saddened by the news.

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     The next scene begins with Richard practising his address to the society and Eleanor ridiculing him and the ‘anoraks’ of the society. Brian interrupts them, once again, complaining about a row he had with a newly joined member of the group that he doesn’t get on with, Les Rollins, but also with better news that he’d got Henry McGee to come to the gathering. They continue bickering over their sexual problems, as Brian unpacks his food in the kitchen. Just as Eleanor is about to leave for her evening lessons, Lisa and Nick arrive, earlier than expected. ...

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