Steven Poole

Every man in his humour

He produces smart one-liners. But pages go by in Calypso without anything remotely humorous happening

Since the 17th century, a ‘humourist’ has been a witty person, and especially someone skilled in literary comedy. In 1871, the Athenaeum said that Swift had been ‘an inimitable humourist’. But in modern usage the term seems to describe a specifically American job title: someone who specialises in writing short prose pieces whose only purpose is to be funny.

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