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Laughing with or at?

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After a conversation once about comedy, a pal of mine said that there is always a victim of humour. I have often pondered it.

I caught John Cleese on The One Show, I think it was, talking about what cancel culture is and what it means nowadays to make jokes.

Parts of Fawlty Towers are now edited with jokes and comments made in a couple of episodes that back in the day passed the censorship board of the ‘beeb’.


Was John Cleese’s intolerable character Basil Fawlty someone to laugh at or with?

Cleese mentioned on the show that we laugh at people’s faults, that it is part of building rapport with colleagues or team mates, but are we laughing kindly or mean spiritedly?

Cancel culture is when popular figures fall out of favour. It’s nothing new, famous people who fall off the pedestal and are quickly yesterday’s news.

I agree that it is funny to laugh at people’s faults with good humour and that the recipient understands that it is in good humour.

Banter is a term I do not think has positive connotations anymore - it can be changed to suit someone who may be bullying rather than bantering.

My opinion is that behavioural faults, such as falling over, saying something silly, pulling funny faces are basic ways to make people laugh.

But race, gender, sexuality and the bigger more sensitive areas or life should not be seen as a fault and, therefore, treated kindly.

Things have moved on, life has developed, attitudes and beliefs have changed.

I am happy to be laughed at - it happens a lot but, as my colleague describes me, I am a good sport. But that does not mean that I do not censor what I may say and sometimes feel sensitive about things. We are only human.

I happily laugh at my appearance but there is a fine line between someone else making comments and going too far under the hashtag banter.

I caught Paul McCartney being interviewed by Idris Elba, the actor who stars in various blockbusters and series, such as Luther.

It was an interesting pairing for an interview with a lot of good humour. I have long admired McCartney and how over the course of his life he has done the right thing, particularly in race equality and just seemingly being generally a decent guy.

The Liverpudlian sense of humour has always been something, I think, integral to him.

So which subjects are still off limits for making jokes about, I wonder, as there is always another side to a joke - the side of the victim.

I ran into my arch-enemy yesterday. Then I backed up and ran into her again.

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