X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Please note: Previously subscribers used a 'WebID' to log into the website. Your subscriber number is not the same as the WebID. Please ensure you use the subscriber number when you link your subscription.

Bookends

Bookends: Laughing by the book

Laughing by the book.

13 August 2011

12:00 AM

13 August 2011

12:00 AM

Comedy is a serious business. The number of young people who seek to make a living making other people laugh seems to grow every year. Jonathan Lynn starts Comedy Rules (Faber & Faber, £14.99) by insisting that it is not a primer for would-be writers, but of course it is, and much more.

Lynn was at Cambridge with the Pythons and the Goodies, co-wrote the Doctor series in the 1970s and Yes, Minister in the 1980s, and has since carved out a career directing comedy films in Hollywood, some of them funnier than others. But as Rule 138 (of 150) states, ‘Nobody knows how the audience will react to any play or film or joke.’ Like all comedy writers, Lynn can feel under-appreciated: the cast and producer of Yes, Minister were invited to the Baftas every year, while the men who created it watched it on TV at home. (Rule 101: ‘If you value your privacy, try to make your work famous and yourself unknown.’ But let’s not forget Rule 40: ‘All comedians and comedy writers are angry.’)

This tightly constructed, rather brilliant little book also finds room for sharp but fond portraits of Leonard Rossiter (‘a virtuoso player of his instrument: himself’) and Jack Rosenthal (‘He chain-smoked all through my audition, and for the next twenty-five years’). Best of all, Lynn makes it all look easy, which is the basic rule of comedy, and is only ever the product of long hours of hard work.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


Show comments
Close