Humour

Sam Lipsyte. Credit: Ceridwen Morris

Hitting the bullseye: Hark, by Sam Lipsyte, reviewed

16 February 2019 9:00 am

This is an ebullient, irreverent and deeply serious novel in the noble tradition of Mark Twain, Sinclair Lewis (especially Babbitt…

David Sedaris, the current king of humorists, is often not funny at all

28 July 2018 9:00 am

Since the 17th century, a ‘humourist’ has been a witty person, and especially someone skilled in literary comedy. In 1871,…

The critics may have liked The Death of Stalin but the French certainly don’t

12 May 2018 9:00 am

Should I or shouldn’t I go and see The Death of Stalin, showing at the French village cinema last Sunday…

Dear Mary: At a smart dinner party, is it wrong to ask for the wifi code?

21 April 2018 9:00 am

Q. My husband and I are excited to have been invited to dinner by our most important neighbour. However our…

Are vets the new transgenders?

27 January 2018 9:00 am

The vet who is unhappy that I cracked a joke about vets has received the backing of the British Veterinary…

Melissa Kite: The death of humour

20 January 2018 9:00 am

A vet has accused me of a ‘hate crime’ for making a joke about vets. On the basis that everything…

Christmas quiz books galore

9 December 2017 9:00 am

There can be few challenges more daunting for the assiduous reviewer than a pile of Christmas ‘gift’ books sitting on…

How can I prevent my husband from burning all my post?

18 November 2017 9:00 am

Our own dear Mary wishes Giles wouldn’t automatically assume that everything she’s sent is junk mail

Dear Mary: What’s the etiquette of visiting a friend in hospital?

28 October 2017 9:00 am

Q. What is the etiquette of hospital visiting? A friend in his fifties is about to spend six weeks in…

The trouble with the definite article

28 October 2017 9:00 am

Veronica, who looks at Twitter, told me of an exchange she thought would interest me, about the use of the.…

Dear Mary: the TV mogul whose floral offering did not cut the mustard

14 October 2017 9:00 am

Q. A well-known television mogul,whom I had met only once, came to dinner at my house. I was on good…

How to make the most of the social opportunities of the polling station

3 June 2017 9:00 am

Q. I am a member of a well-known country house opera society, and I organise annual trips to performances for…

My father, the gun-toting Catholic priest

27 May 2017 9:00 am

This is one of the most remarkable, hilarious, jaw-droppingly candid and affecting memoirs I have read for some time —…

David Sedaris — doyen of deadpan drollery

27 May 2017 9:00 am

The bestselling humourist and New Yorker essayist David Sedaris is renowned for an almost hypnotic deadpan drollery and maybe especially…

Why is turning 40 so traumatic for a single female New Yorker?

6 May 2017 9:00 am

In an early chapter of All Grown Up, the narrator Andrea says to her therapist: ‘Why is being single the…

Fabulous music and the vinyl fanatics

22 April 2017 9:00 am

Every year at this time, as trees come into bud and flowers bloom, middle-aged men (and a few women) sleep…

The chick and the dead: Clare Holman plays the pathologist Dr Laura Hobson in Inspector Morse. Rex images.

The perfect place to fall in love? The mortuary

22 April 2017 9:00 am

I grew up with a skeleton in the attic. My mother’s clinical training bestowed on our family a short man’s…

Was A.A. Gill just an outrageous show pony?

25 February 2017 9:00 am

When A.A. Gill died last December, there was wailing and gnashing of teeth across the nation. I must admit this…

Michael Chabon’s ‘faux-memoir novel’ is a simple song about love

11 February 2017 9:00 am

Michael Chabon’s back. He’d never gone away, of course — more than a dozen books in all — but it’s…

Dear Mary: how should you deal with having your face flecked with spittle?

21 January 2017 9:00 am

Q. At a drinks party at Christie’s this evening my face was splattered with flecks of spit from the guest…

Diane Williams’s surreal parables are an acquired taste — and one well worth acquiring

12 November 2016 9:00 am

There is a common assumption that experimental writing — for want of a better term — is obscure, joyless and…

Being adored by Middle England as cosy and harmless drives Alan Bennett mad

Alan Bennett: one of the sharpest, funniest writers in the English language

15 October 2016 9:00 am

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst reveals that, far from being a cuddly, mild-mannered teddy bear, our national treasure has sharp claws — and a gimlet eye

Dear Mary: How can we stop people giving us wedding presents we don’t need?

20 August 2016 9:00 am

Q. My partner and I have been living together for 26 years, but now that he’s asked me to marry…

Dear Mary: On being an unappreciated patron of the arts

23 July 2016 9:00 am

Q. Since my husband began to appear in the Rich List he has become much more popular with ‘artists’ in…

Dear Mary: Is it naff to circulate an advance list of dinner-party guests?

11 June 2016 9:00 am

Q. When going out to dinner I’ve found some people will send everyone a list of the other guests so…