Rod Liddle Rod Liddle

What a joke

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The award for the funniest joke at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe was won by Lorna Rose Treen, with this: ‘I started dating a zookeeper, but it turned out he was a cheetah.’ There you go. It’s hard to know where to begin, isn’t it? Maybe with the fact that the joke doesn’t really work. Why would a zookeeper be a cheetah? Just because his work may involve looking after them? There’s no sense to it: the bloke just works in a zoo. If she’d said ‘I started dating a big cat – turned out he was a cheetah’, then that still wouldn’t be terribly funny but it would at least have semantic integrity. The second thing to say is that Lorna’s joke quite possibly was the funniest thing said throughout the ghastly festival, because they’ve banned all the stuff that’s really funny. Lorna, who professed herself ‘chuffed’ with her award, is what they are left with.

The point of comedy is to poke away with glee and guile at the stuff which lurks darkly in our unconscious

You may have read that the Leith Arches venue banned Graham Linehan from appearing because his view on transgender issues is only shared by the majority of the population. Linehan – who was one of the writers of Father Ted, among other things – has seen his career cancelled and it has cost him money and his mental health. Anybody who says anything which transgresses or lampoons the absurd shibboleths of the radical left will find themselves similarly estranged.

And so, in a sense, comedy has become a kind of anti-comedy, in which stand-up routines simply reflect the audience’s own prejudices and opinion and risk offending absolutely nobody, which is kind of the opposite of what comedy should be.

‘I can’t say I care for your move into “observational stuff”.’

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