Humour

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…

How a grumpy llama became the third person in our relationship

14 May 2016 9:00 am

Gussie is the name of a grumpy and ill-natured llama, her coat largely white and somewhat unkempt, and much given…