Comedians were in trouble again last weekend. This has reminded me that I have a genevois cousin whose demeanour lends itself entirely to the old joke, “How do you make a Swiss cross?” To which the answer is often, “Quite easily.”
One of his laments is that the English live in a permanent mission to be funny. To a nation whose twin personalities have split between the discreet guardianship of ill-gotten gains or communicating by horn across distant alpine valleys, the idea of finding humour in the oddities of life is anathema, not to say difficult.
Please note, this is not a paeon to the great British sense of humour which, nowhere else in the world, is held in higher regard than in Britain itself. But, one must concede, both the language, and the close proximity to which this overcrowded island’s urban citizens have long had to live, means that seeing the funny side is easy and often quite important.