A theme of mine when people are banging on about humour as a “weapon” is that is does matter how it’s used. There’s no simple right to offend, sarcasm can be cheap, and the context matters. In days of old, the court had a jester so everyone knew it was the “fool” who spoke the ironic riddles – nonesense at face value, funny or foolish – but not the guv’nor. The need was recognised, not simply “tolerated”. And it needs to be used sparingly. Anyone attempting serious dialogue or enabling real change, whether formally in politics or not, is perfectly entitled to use ironic or foolish humour, but with so much transparency of communications through social media, it’s important such humour doesn’t deflect-from or crowd-out the serious work. Best left to the professionals. Frankie Boyle is my current favourite, but you will have your own preferred national treasure. (We Cannot All Be Court Jester – with Frankie links lower down).
“Taking a baseball bat” (*) to Boris Johnson, by Matthew Parris in The Times (behind paywall), shows exactly how overplaying the fool – by his critics as well as by Boris himself – simply hides real and serious political issues.
Well said, a must read.
[Hat tip to @Emma_C_Williams for the “baseball bat” tip off. Take note my US friends.]