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Where life just isn’t funny anymore.

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United Kingdom

Stuart JeffriesThe Guardian

We British are losing our famous sense of humor, said Stuart Jeffries in the London Guardian. It’s happening slowly, but over the past few years deadpan irony has become as endangered as snappy repartee. Comedians used to make us laugh—actually laugh out loud—at ourselves. Now, though, a typical stand-up routine is just “political argument.” Done well, of course, political humor could be funny. But these days it’s more rant than wit, “the monomaniacal kind” of diatribe “that, were you in a pub, would cause you to edge away from the bar.” Rather than giggling, the audience response is to nod and “grunt in rueful recognition for the rightness of their insights about British political life.” Is it political correctness that has killed comedy? Or is it the darkness of the times, when war and terrorism suck all joy out of the national psyche? Even popular sitcoms like The Office are more “painful” than mirthful. Sociologists, though, tell us not to worry. The British use humor as a release valve, to let off social pressures. “Other countries have revolutions; we have satire.” Particularly in uncertain times, then, comedy doesn’t have to be funny—“just funnier than the guillotine.”

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