Dane Reynolds' Humour

Anyone paying any attention to surfing, the ASP World Tour, Dane Reynolds and Twitter or Facebook in general will probably have seen Dane's little piece on his Marine Layer Productions site. It's a sort of rambling (but more thought out than the prose suggests I think) explanation of his feelings regarding his ASP World Tour exit. I enjoyed reading it and thought it was nicely written, relaxed and articulate. But there was a video posted with it (which I think he has now changed). The video said everything to me. On twenty seconds I laughed as he failed a pop-up (top pic). And later on I laughed out loud again as he roundhoused into the foamball - disappearing completely, ridiculously, y'know, where the hell was he going? It made me realise that the surfing we see has most of the humour edited out of it and humour was the crux of his article. Dane's article was nice but those moments in the video focussed clearly on the point (and in the medium that we want to see him in).

I've not been surfing all that long but clearly remember the first surfing video I bought was Thomas Campbell's "The Present". Dane is in it surfing, having fun and fronting the joke surf competition with Rob Machado. Good humour has been frothing through Dane's surfing as long as I've been aware of him. Is there room for humour in the World Tour? Not in competition, no. (I'm sure the odd wedgie occurs behind the scenes but that's not what I'm on about.) When I think of Kelly Slater plenty of surfing moments I think of are from watching the Tour (like his 10 in France in 2009/10 when the bottom of his board slid away but he still emerged from an impossible barrel). Along with skill, competitive desire, focus and determination frame the personality that thrives in competition. Competition requires different characteristics.

When we think of Dane surfing are our most fondly remembered sections from 'free surfing' or from competition? Dane's written piece makes it clear that he believes that to live for the ASP World Tour would not be harmonious with his psyche, his humor, his disposition, his personality, feelings and, therefore, his surfing. He'll still be flying around, surfing, splashing about while generally being pushed around by his sponsors - having to be available for films, photoshoots etc. He's not letting his sponsors or anyone else down, in fact he's trying to make sure we get to see the best of him.

The thing about surfing is that it isn't inherently a competition sport, unlike the 100m or chess, for example. It's got as much in common with dancing. But there are dance competitions because we can turn anything into a competition: the ancient Hawaiians used to bet big stakes on surfers' achievements in competition against each other. But that is one deviance of the sport, one mood, one personality of the schizophrenically multi-faceted thing that is surfing.

I, for one, don't care that Dane's fallen off the tour. I look forward to more of his often slapsticky surfing (in fact the slapstick might make a good name for a surfboard!?). So - filmmakers - can we keep more of the falls, tumbles, failed manoeuvres and general humour in surfing please? At the middling stage that I'm at in surfing it's become obvious that without humour - without being willing to throw yourself as a laughing bumbling kook into the silliest situations - you will not progress so quickly or even, simply, enjoy the sport so much. And if surfing's not about finding joy then I don't know what is...

During writing this I got hooked on humour, mood and personality and found that Hippocrates formulated a theory of the four humours which related to the alchemical elements of earth, air, fire and water. (In a poorly written muddly way I've used the word 'humour' to mean 'funny' but also as 'mood'.) This diagram shows the way the personality types were thought to relate. In ancient Greece they realised (not quite as scientifically as they thought) that peoples personalities were different and equated to different 'humours'. Are we forgetting that if we think it's Dane's duty to take part in the ASP World Tour? Do we think less of Buster Keaton because he never played Macbeth?


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