Amelia Hill at The Observer:
After hearing jokes across Britain, Lenny Henry’s verdict offers little cheer:
From The Office to Little Britain and Peep Show, British comedy is as robust as it has ever been. But are Cockneys really funnier than Scousers? What about the Welsh? The British take their humour seriously, but do the one-liners people tell really reveal something about society, about who people are and how people have changed? What, in short, is in a joke? To get under the skin of the British sense of humour, the Open University has carried out a unique survey of the jokes people tell.
‘The defining trait of Britishness is our sense of humour, but although we all tell funny stories and jokes, not all of us get a laugh from them,’ said Dr Marie Gillespie, professor of sociology and anthropology at the Open University. ‘Jokes are not just a bit of fun. Yes, they play with the taboo and the forbidden, with the rules of language and logic, but jokes are also a barometer of the social and political climate. They reveal a great deal about social conventions and expose established pieties.’