And so I'm one of these annoying people who think it's witty to include "Self-reference" in the index of a software user-manual, referring to the page number for that index page. (Yes, I did that, but it was a long time ago.)
When did this enjoyment of self-reference start? Possibly with my father, although I can't immediately think of any examples. Certainly when I was a teenager. For me, the funniest Monty Python sketch was the one where we see a group of intrepid explorers reaching their destination, never before visited by man, and duly celebrate with handshakes all round. But while they are celebrating, one of them wonders, "Who is filming us?" and we see them looking in all directions before pointing, rushing straight towards the camera and then introducing themselves to the camera crew, who obviously got there before them. And as we cut to another angle, they realise that there must be another camera crew too ... (This is my memory of the sketch and it may not be very accurate.)
I had wonderful maths teachers at school - Jimmy Cowan and Ivan Wells - but I don't remember them particularly encouraging this kind of humour. But recently (ie when I first planned writing this blog post, so not very recently) I was amused by this gag from Moray Hunter's radio comedy "Alone": .
"Remind me, Morris, never to ask you to do anything … at all … ever"
"Does that include reminding you never to ask me to do anything at all ever?"
"Probably – I lost interest halfway through the question"
(The first speaker is the Angus Deayton character, and the concluding line is not only ideal for his world-weary delivery, but really perfects the joke.)
Why do I mention this? Because Moray Hunter was at my old school and shared the same maths teachers as I had. So perhaps there is a connection...