‘Derry girls’: humor born of violence in Northern Ireland | Babelia

All comedy is tragedy + time, as they say, but it is worth waiting long enough. In The Producers (Mel Brooks 1967) theatrical producers premiere a musical called Springtime for Hitler, and the joke is that it is too early to make cuchufletas about Nazism. When ETA attempted against Admiral Carrero Blanco in 1973, mocking that was unthinkable. It took a while for the first clicks to emerge. If the subject of humor is delicate, the timing it's everything.

"Unfortunately, although the violence is over, life in Northern Ireland continues to be segregated."

Lisa McGee, creator and screenwriter of the Netflix series Derry GirlsHe has done well to wait twenty years to create his series. Well, a sitcom set in the Derry of the nineties, epicenter of the Troubleshoot Norwegians in their last decade of bloody conflict, would not have raged among the victims' associations. “In the eighties I was still a child, but my adolescence was spent in the middle of a great escalation of violence,” says McGee, who will premiere the third season of the series in 2020. “It had to be decades for something like Derry girls conceivable. You can't do that sitcom If the newscast still talks about car bombs. It would rip his mood. You need distance. It also depends on the nature of the conflict. In the case of Northern Ireland, the end was defined by the Good Friday agreements of 1998, which were voted throughout the island in two referendums. The agreement ratified that Troubleshoot They were done. That was the line from which art could be created about what happened. ”

Image of 'Derry Girls'.

Image of 'Derry Girls'.

Luis García Berlanga stated that The heifer (1985) was not a movie on the Spanish Civil War but in the Spanish Civil War, and the same could be said of this popular sitcom. The "Derry girls" are a gang of Catholic school girls who do not cease to get into stupid traps, with the peculiarity that the landscape is Northern Ireland at a high point of sectarian violence: police checks, bombs in pubs, paramilitary revenges and institutional racism. This all sounds like tearful drama of the kind In the name of the Father or Hidden agenda, but it is the opposite. “Some of those films were important for the peaceful resolution of the problem,” says the screenwriter, “but I failed to identify with them. They gave a very serious and sad and limited vision of everything. Some of the funniest things in my life happened to me during the Troubleshoot. People need humor in dark times. That is human being: connect with jokes. To survive the Troubleshoot We look for the horny side. There was an element of nervous laughter in it, for the central issue was so serious that you seemed to transgress the worst taboo possible. Sometimes you laughed for pure shock: I can't believe you said that [ríe]"

In times of war, the unprecedented is regularized. People danced charleston in the last days of the chancellery bunker, fucked during the Yugoslav wars and killed themselves in the Ebro offensive. One usually shudders with the first military helicopter, does the comb to the second and, by the time the tenth arrives , does not look up from the book or suspend intercourse. "Life goes on," he says. “By writing the series I have learned a lot about where I come from. I was surprised by my community. I am proud that people, in the middle of the conflict, got married, passed exams, went out partying ... They didn't stay home hidden behind the couch; just the opposite. When I moved to London, I told my new friends that the English army searched our cars routinely, and they told me that that didn't sound routine. [ríe]. All those things, the presence of the tanks, the controls, were day to day. I never considered it exceptional. You got used to everything very quickly, especially if you were a child. If they transported me now to those times I would be terrified. ”

"You got used to everything very quickly, especially if you were a child. If I were transported now to those times I would be terrified"

The timing it is indispensable when guasearing with horror, but so are the point of view and the voice. Even if Derry girls It takes place in years when the UDA / UFF and the UVF (unionist paramilitary groups) decimated civil Catholics, the attack that the protagonist's family sees, dismayed, on television is from the IRA. “I am from the Catholic family,” explains the director. “For me it was more important to show the effect that an IRA bomb would have on a home similar to mine. I wanted to keep things in the first person. I grew up in a segregated world. Nobody had friends on the other side, it was impossible, neighborhoods and schools were different, so forcing the appearance of unionists in the series would not have been realistic. The way the Protestants crossed in your life was in isolated episodes, as is the case in the chapter of the exchange with the boys' school. I didn't meet a Protestant until I was eighteen and I went to college [ríe]. Unfortunately, Although the violence is over, life in Northern Ireland continues to be segregated. Almost everyone studies in separate schools and lives in different parts of the city. There are more and more shared activities, but it is not so common to have Protestant friends. There is still work to do. ” When I tell you about the great presence without voice of Derry girls, the English army, its creator is sharp. “I'm from Derry,” he says, “and although Bloody Sunday happened in 1972, it's not something you can joke about, even today. I knew from the beginning that the army had to appear as an external force, but I couldn't put jokes in its mouth. It is a wound that is still open. All the characters in my series, whatever their affiliation, are Norwegian civilians. I would feel uncomfortable writing for English soldiers. ”

A moment of 'Derry Girls'.

A moment of 'Derry Girls'.

There is a clear precedent of Derry girls, although the average Spanish viewer is not familiar with it. This is the mid-nineties series Father Ted, which Hat Trick produced for Channel 4, same sponsors as in the Lisa McGee series. “It makes me feel like the next generation,” says the creator. “Like many other people in Ireland, when I saw Father Ted I thought it was the best I had ever seen. He popularized Irish humor as something other than the English taking an Irishman in a series to laugh at him. Irish humor has a surreal and weird point that Father Ted It shaped perfectly. Of course, his influence on Derry girls It was not exempt from complicated moments. In the chapters where Ardal O'Hanlon appears, (Father Dougal McGuire of Father Ted), I had some time to shake my head and not believe my eyes. Sometimes I think that, since my series takes place at the time they gave Father Ted on television, it should appear in the background in some chapter [ríe]"

Kiko Amat is a writer. His latest novel is Before the hurricane (2018).


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