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Stuart JeffriesThe Guardian
We British are losing our famous sense of humor, said Stuart Jeffries in the London Guardian. Its happening slowly, but over the past few years deadpan irony has become as endangered as snappy repartee. Comedians used to make us laughactually laugh out loudat ourselves. Now, though, a typical stand-up routine is just political argument. Done well, of course, political humor could be funny. But these days its 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 doesnt have to be funnyjust funnier than the guillotine.