In a recent Spectator former editor Charles Moore writes
‘What phrase on a news programme promises the
greatest boredom? I would say "awards ceremony".’ He’s
not far wrong either. I'd add only that a strong contender
for the title would also be ‘comedy festival.’ The spirits
sink at the very words. There is something profoundly
wrong with a civilization that insists on having so much
‘comedy’ together in one place at the same time. Stop me
if you’ve heard this one, but the whole idea of comedy as
a discrete genre imposes an oppressive expectation that
one will be amused, and in the stranglehold of that very
expectation the laughter dies on one’s lips. The best
humour comes at you sideways or out of context; the
term ‘stand-up comedy’ is actually an oxymoron. Comedy
as we now know it was invented to fill a market niche.
How funny is that?