Tales of Everyday Craziness


Tales of Everyday Craziness
With Jon Ronson

This event took place on 22nd February 2009

Posted by Claire Berliner

Saturdays just haven’t been the same since Jon Ronson stopped writing his weekly column in the Guardian, funny observations of the craziness of everyday life. So it was a pleasure and a treat to see his session at Jewish Book Week and to hear some of those columns out loud, including my personal favourite in which he sees a girl mimicking the way he eats in a restaurant, decides the best response is to mimic her mimicking him and then, as a look of shock begins to spread across her face, he realises that his action looks uncannily like he’s mimicking a blow job – he is a forty year old man mimicking a blow job to a fourteen year old girl. I laughed even though I knew the punch line, the rest of the audience laughed, Jon demonstrated the action and we all laughed some more.

Jon Ronson has made a career out of observing the absurd, not just in his own life but in the world in general. He showed clips of ‘Tottenham Ayatollah’, a film he’d made about the fundamentalist Islamist Omar Bakri, which managed to reduce a figure of hate into a figure of fun with barely any commentary at all. In one clip Omar catches a fish but is scared it will bite him. A fundamentalist colleague says ‘How will you fight jihad if you’re scared of a fish?’ A member of the audience asked ‘Are you suggesting that all Islamic fundamentalists are incompetent fools? ‘No’ said Ronson, ‘just Omar.’

Ronson talked about meetings with a Klu Klux Klan chief who was the white supremicist version of Woody Allen, denying he was Jewish whilst hanging out with neo-Nazis, following David Icke (not in a spiritual way), meeting ex-US military men who think they can stare goats to death and other ‘irrational bubbles in our world’. In fact he was supposed to have been at Jewish Book Week last year but he cancelled at the last minute because, as he explained, Robbie Williams called to ask him to attend a UFO convention in the US – an offer he just couldn’t refuse.

Last year Ronson’s session sold out before it was cancelled. This year he stepped in at the last minute, so the session was not in the printed programme. As a result the audience was small but it was also the youngest and probably coolest audience I’d seen at Jewish Book Week and everyone seemed to have fun in Ronson’s funny, nebbishy, neurotic, how-on-earth-did-he-manage-to hide-his-Jewishness? presence.

Towards the end of the session Ronson admitted to receiving Google alerts so that he knows when someone has written about him on the internet… Hello Jon! Great talk.

Posted by Claire Berliner. Claire is a writer, puppet-maker and director of the Arvon centre at Totleigh Barton.


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