Laughter lifts a weight off our shoulders

The Black Balloon

The text The Black Balloon depicts the challenges that coincide with having an autistic brother and son. As the film commences we meet Charlie, the son of Maggie and Simon and brother of Thomas. Thomas strives to maintain a normal adolescence but Charlie, his autistic brother, becomes bothersome and unintentionally destroys his every opportunity. Thomas finds himself trying to cope with the harsh reality that his brother will never change and, handle his new feelings as he begins to fall in love for the first time.

Teenagers Displaying Humour

In the text we frequently witness the use of humour; a lot of this humour stemming from the teenagers. In the case of Thomas we see him using humour in the text when his brother, Charlie, is being ridiculed and yelled at by their intolerant neighbour for continuously banging a wooden spoon on the ground. Thomas seeing this decides the best way to handle it is to join in with Charlie and pretend to also have a disability as he too starts banging a wooden spoon on the ground only making their neighbour fume with rage. Thomas laughs and giggles as he and his brother successfully infuriate their neighbour. Another example of humour in the text is when we observe Thomas and Charlie both having to bear the constant vituperation from their peers. The immature boys at their school find humour to be a fuel to their ego as well as using it to make everything seem like a joke even if it is at the expense of others. Humour is also evident in the scene where Charlie mistakes a tampon in Jackie’s bag for an edible treat. When Thomas realises what his brother is doing he is mortified. He is then shocked by Jackie’s humorous reply “at least it wasn’t used”. This type of reply shows Jackie’s ability to laugh at things that cannot be prevented when your boyfriend’s brother is autistic.

Black Balloon | BEHIND THE SCENES | Gemma's Favourite Scene | Icon

Gemma Ward on 'The Tampon Scene'

This little excerpt from an interview with Gemma Ward shows us just how hard it is to hold in your laughter when shooting a film of such comedic value.

Adults Displaying Humour

As we become immersed in the text we learn that not only do the teenagers use humour but the adults also. Thomas and Charlies parents, Simon and Maggie, are both humorous personalities when they want to be. This is evident when we meet Rex, Simon’s furry best mate. Rex is his way of communicating to his wife. Simon and Rex hold intense conversations about issues that need resolving and as third parties in the situation we look at this to be ridiculously humorous. We are also able to distinguish Maggie’s use of humour that assists her in speaking to her autistic son. Charlie’s disability makes it hard for people to communicate with him but Maggie achieves this through joking around with him. An example of this is when it is Charlie’s bath time and to get him to co-operate Maggie fashions his hair into different funny styles which then keeps him occupied and helps her to bathe him. Both Maggie and Simon use humour to make their lives easier.

Humour Outside the Text

Humour can be a powerful and effective mechanism for dealing with stress, communicating with others, it can make situations a lot easier to cope with. Being able to laugh at things that you cannot change can make the pain and suffering of it endurable. For example humour has been used at funerals to remember the amusing and comical times that were shared with the person who has passed away. By being able to laugh at these times that were shared this makes the grief and agony of losing a loved one more bearable. Humour is a necessity as it lifts a weight off the shoulders of those burdened by unhappiness.

Michael Yezerski

When We Get There (Josh Pyke) by Michael Yezerski