Why you should learn to haarnk.

Laughter. Such a beautiful thing. I came in to the gulag today miserable and wretched—every effort to think positive was thwarted by the cold, harsh light of the reality that I was descending into a hell of excessive air-conditioning, where I was going to be tormented by of piped music for the next twelve hours. Damnation without relief.

Yes, there is piped music. They put loudspeakers in our office. And we cannot switch them off. While we are trying to make Ofwono Opondo and Wafula Oguttu’s articles look elegant on the page, Sean Paul and Enya are busy shrieking over our shoulders. And did I mention that the air conditioning is always too high? Hell, I tell you.

Anyway, laughter. I didn’t think I would ever see joy again. But I did, in the form of my Evil Twin  dropping by. I was so happy. I laughed to myself. I’ve been worried about you, kid.

Oh, I was speaking about, laughter. I lost my thought. It is hard to concentrate in this room. All this piped music. I mean, what is that comma doing there?

Some people laugh, I have observed in my career as a social critic, as a reaction to something funny. For example, they hear a joke, they read something my witty friend Minty  said, or something my hilarious cousin Ivan wrote, or they see a cartoon animal slip on a banana peel. This is acceptable.

But there are other people who laugh when nothing amusing has occurred at all. In the course of a conversation they just think to themselves, “This would be a good point to insert laughter.” However, they cannot think of anything amusing at that particular time. The only thing they can come up with is probably dull and trite. What do they do, therefore?

They cannot sms “joke” and send it to MTN smcard services, because that costs too much and there is no guarantee that you will get value for money. Better off smsing “porn”. I have heard that there is no such thing as disappointing porn. I wouldn’t know, of course, because I am an upright and moral angel.

I don’t even know what porn is. Leave me alone.

Sorry. Wandered off again. Damn speakers.

What these people do is say the dull thing anyway, then, to indicate that they want you to laugh at it, begin to chuckle themselves, prompting you to follow suit.  Here is an example.

(In the midst of a discussion about the fucking loudspeakers going on all day long)

Fellow: …And then the computers are wretchedly slow. The internet is useless. I wish the speakers could be afflicted with whatever is causing the computers to freeze. I wish the speakers could freeze.
Harold: The computers are also too slow!
Fellow: Crawling like sludge, slow to the point of immobile.
Harold: It seems they are not Y2k compliant. Hah hah hah!

Harold does not realise that it too late to crack that joke. Eight years too late. However, it could have been worse. He could have tried to be current and said the computers are not “ready for CHOGM.”

It is very hard to laugh at that. Even to be polite. Especially when you are stuck in a freezing office with the air-conditioning giving you prickly heat and the speakers have started to play %^&$% YANNI!!

But you don’t want to offend Harold. The poor guy is just trying to be friendly. And it isn’t right to meet somebody’s well-intended and good natured, if stale, attempt at humour with sneers and spit. Reserve the sneers and the saliva for Red Pepper and Ekanya, and as for Harold, make an effort. Be nice.

This is what I recommend: Tilt your head back, push your tongue to the roof of your mouth and go, “Haarnk, haarnk haarnk!” Repeat this three times. He will think you are laughing and probably be satisfied.

If not, he will be too shocked to ever try to tell you a joke again.



  1. (I swear this is not made up)

    This is from Goblin Tax, a radio play for eight players and a small dragon (http://www.allenvarney.com/av_goblin.html)

    (FX: “FWOOSH!” – Sound of kitchen match igniting, slowed down and amplified. Speed up the pace here.)
    Phil, Ann, Gordon, John: Yelps of surprise
    Bingo: (Filtered, otherworldly voice) Where am I?
    Dragon: (Likewise) HAARNK!
    Phil: What are they?
    Ann: Where’d they come from?
    Gordon: Is that a dragon?
    Bingo: Humans!
    Dragon: HRRNNNKKK!
    (FX: Blowing sound.)]
    John: Watch out, it’s breathing fire!
    Bingo: Please – help me! (To Dragon) Rosebud! Naughty! Naughty! Don’t breathe fire on the nice humans.

    I always knew there was something reptilian about you, Baz.

  2. haarnk? did u try it out before u recommended it baz? it is just impossible to do. i swear i have failed, and i dont like to fail! i do hate people who think they are funny and want to shove laughter down yo palate and all the way down

  3. Meanwhile, I still can’t get over the fact that u make Ofwono Opondo and Wafula Oguttu’s articles look crisp… Atte John Nagenda???

    I always thought those guys were too hot they didn’t have their articles edited…mbu they just went straight from their Mont Blancs to the printing press.

    Moral angel…Well well…

    That Y2k complaint thing went extinct in 1999…at the turn of the century. How old is Harold?

    Finally I meet someone that thinks Ekanya is rubbish!!!! And His Dolly. WTF

    Kale I just tried the haarnk laughter and almost swallowed my tongue.

  4. Baz, I’m here, and I’m fine. I’ve just been wrestling with the crappiest internet connection known to womankind. I’ll holla at you later this week, especially because I watched “Beyonce the President’s Daughter” and it’s numerous sequels. I took detailed notes, so we have a LOT to talk about.

    Now, Tumwi: can you send me some of that high-grade bhangi you’ve been smoking? I’d like to hang out with “Puff the Magic Dragon” too.

  5. oh, KC is in the area? Nicey. And death to IT for slow computers and the glare. Or maybe its just that i work in a thrid world country and i’m supposed to swallow it all and accept my fate.

  6. Nawe Baz…I’d gotten used to reading a new post from u every other day…now it feels like I’m malnourished.

  7. i like the muzik baz. Just listen to Candia (posi u don’t work on Sunday!). Anyways KC—nini mupya?

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