Monday, 6 October 2008

The Greek monologue tirade

Hermes and I have been discussing here the ‘monologue tirade’ popular on fringe Greek TV especially among patriotic analysts. I said I found the excessive emotion often used by speakers not only counterproductive since it obscured the message of their talk but also hilarious.

Hermes warned me against adopting Anglo-Saxon cultural attitudes towards pathos and I accepted this and mentioned how the Greek monologue tirade is actually an interesting art form, which hints at an extreme state of consciousness and is something akin to a stand-up comedy routine with all its digressions, non-sequiturs and hyperbole. I also mentioned that the Greek monologue tirade reminded me of the novels and plays of Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard and the films of John Cassavetes.

Indeed, above are two clips: one from Cassavetes’ Minnie and Moscowitz, in which Minnie (Gena Rowlands) finds herself on a blind date with Zelmo Swift (Val Avery), who lets his desire to impress his date get the better of him; the other is an excerpt from a Neoklis Sarris’ diatribe on High TV’s Τομές against vigilante ‘anti-nationalist’ journalists and academics. Sarris is a sociology professor at Panteion University and an expert on Greek-Turkish relations.

The host of Τομές is Kostas Hountas who, if anything, is an even more eccentric character than Sarris. In the clip below, Sarris works himself into a fury and then turns towards the sheepish Hountas and starts waving his finger in his face and haranguing him about the shortcomings of Pasok. Without exaggeration, I have to say that this was one of the funniest things I have ever seen and I laughed uncontrollably as I am laughing now, just thinking about it.


Anonymous said...

I found the second clip to be outrageously funny.


john akritas said...

It is outrageously funny, and gets funnier with each viewing; but you know what, at the same time, everything he says is true.

Hermes said...

Despite the outrage he remains logical and lucid.

john akritas said...

Yes, he does. It's very impressive.

Hermes said...

Compare this with the supposedly "rational" post-modern way of talking where one talks and talks in soothing conciliatory tones but never really says anything of any substance.

I believe this way of talking was perfected by that kathiki, Tony Blair.

john akritas said...

True enough; although Blair would often try to fill his vacuity with sentimentality and teary-eyed emotion. A thoroughly despicable man. Only a tirade from Sarris could do justice to his awfulness.

Having said that, the comparison is not really Sarris and Blair; but Sarris and Karambelias and Goudis. My preference is for the more subdued tones of the latter, although vitriolic outrage is also a legitimate rhetorical tool, particularly when, as you say, it manages to remain logical and lucid. Still, I must have seen the Fresh, Crispy Lokoumades clip 20 times now and it's still cracking me up.