September 28, 2019

‘HUMORISTS HAVE BEEN SCARED OUT OF THE BUSINESS:’

I received a note from my old friend Larry Shackley, a longtime NR reader and a great admirer of P. G. Wodehouse. In fact, Larry is reading through the complete Wodehouse — complete — right now. He came across this statement from the writer in 1956. It sounds awfully present-day, doesn’t it?

“Humorists have been scared out of the business by the touchiness now prevailing in every section of the community. Wherever you look, on every shoulder there is a chip, in every eye a cold glitter warning you, if you know what is good for you, not to start anything.”

Within a decade of that statement, the satire boom was on among leftist British comedians to attack the establishment, culminating in the classic episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Perhaps the 21st century left’s humorlesslessness will expire along a similar timetable.

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