Hands up if you find the 'Fenton' dog clip cruel too

Kelner's view

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The Independent Online

It must be something to do with age. When my daughter last week sent me a link to a YouTube clip with the word "amazing" (the all-purpose superlative of anyone under 25) in the subject field, I was expecting a visual treat. A dachshund barking along to an Oasis song, perhaps, or the world's longest table tennis rally. But no.

Bear in mind I was in an office and watched with the sound off, but what I saw was nothing more spectacular than some low-quality footage of a herd of deer in Richmond Park being chased by a labrador. Even allowing for YouTube's propensity for making stars out of animals, this seemed to be stretching the point.

I called my daughter back and told her, in my best po-faced manner, that I couldn't see anything funny in deer being spooked by a dog. If anything, I found it a bit cruel. She then explained that I had to hear the soundtrack, which was of the dog's owner shouting "Fenton!", "Fenton!" after his dog, and then - in his exasperation - "Jesus Christ" as he realises he's fighting a losing battle. "It's hilarious," she said.

Now, I like to think my daughter has a good sense of humour, but this was completely lost on me. I then discovered that she was not the only one who found this, in the modern idiom, totes hilair. In the way of these things, the clip spread like virtual wildfire through the digital landscape, and within hours, millions of people had seen this magnificently comic piece of film.

And by now, virtually no one you know has not seen the clip. (Do you remember the time when we all used to watch the same thing on television? Well, those days are over. A YouTube hit has, it seems, a universality that other media can't rival. Already a slew of spoofs, most of them more amusing than the original Fenton blockbuster, have been posted.)

Anyway, I was beginning to feel old, and out of the loop, until Paul Merton, on the weekend's showing of Have I Got News for You, took roughly the same line as I did, expressing incredulity that such a mundane piece of film could hold so many people in its thrall. It turns out that Merton and I are exactly the same age, so perhaps this is merely a generational thing.

For me, Fenton and his hapless dad fall into the identical category as Seth Rogen, Jack Whitehall and The Inbetweeners: I can't even begin to understand why anyone who has been eligible for full-time employment for, say, 20 years would find them funny.

In the same way, I can't expect my daughter to fall about laughing during the BBC programme Old Jews Telling Jokes. It makes me laugh, even if it's mainly hoary old gags dressed up as Jewish jokes. For her, however, it doesn't raise a titter. She says it reminds her too much of her early homelife. Ho ho.