Comedy and cancel culture

Questioning liberal orthodoxy is a formidable prospect given the inevitability of outrage. But as we risk sliding into coercive ideological conformity, opening up space for debate is surely a matter of some urgency. Comedy is one place where such issues can be raised and explored in relative safety, and two recent instances, Leigh Stein’s satirical… Continue reading Comedy and cancel culture

Self Care

Leigh Stein’s satirical novel, Self Care, is both consistently funny and compulsively readable. It’s also very important. An account of a startup, ‘Richual’, a community platform ‘for women to cultivate the practice of self-care and change the world by changing ourselves’, the novel traces the increasingly panicked travails of the two female co-founders, Maren and… Continue reading Self Care

Armando Iannucci’s David Copperfield

All too often humour is seen as somehow secondary to satire - Harry Levin, for instance, describes satire as ‘purposeful comedy’, with the implication that humour alone is insufficient. Indeed, as the privileged critical category, satire often serves ‘to defend comic art against charges of frivolity’ (Green 106). This tendency is understandable given the distinctions… Continue reading Armando Iannucci’s David Copperfield

Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit has been nominated for 6 Oscars, and has just won a Bafta, so, despite the very mixed reviews, it’s clearly appealing to many. For me, it brought to mind other well received films that were similarly muddled – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri for example. The Oscars often favour films which take on… Continue reading Jojo Rabbit

Shona Macnaughton: Progressive?

Shona Macnaughton is one of four artists in the new exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, the sixth and final instalment in the NOW series. While the show as a whole has much to commend it, the room documenting her performance of 2017, Progressive, is particularly intriguing. Introduced as relating to ‘the politics… Continue reading Shona Macnaughton: Progressive?

Maurizio Cattelan at Blenheim Palace

The Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan is often described – rather dismissively – as a prankster. His new exhibition at Blenheim Palace, however, has been much applauded for revealing a deeper, more thoughtful aspect to his practice. While the disdain demonstrated in responses to his previous work as ‘mere’ jokes or one-liners reiterates a conception of comedy… Continue reading Maurizio Cattelan at Blenheim Palace