Dick Clemnt

Should vintage comedy be judged by today’s standards?

The British sense of humour is a source of power, soft and otherwise. The anthropologist Kate Fox observed that our national motto should be ‘Oh, come off it’, and a patriotic raised eyebrow has been cited as our chief defence against demagogues. We see ourselves through a comic lens, a nation of Delboys and Mainwarings, Brents and Leadbetters, Gavins and Staceys. But despite comedy being as central to British culture as music, books on it have few equivalents to Jon Savage’s England’s Dreaming (on punk), Rob Young’s Electric Eden (folk rock) or Simon Reynolds’s Energy Flash (rave). A nice fat volume about our national comic self-image by an astute music