Laughter has been long recognised as ‘the best medicine’ – medieval surgeons cracked jokes to distract their anaesthesia-free patients from the pain, and Freud argued that humour released negative psychic energy.
But what role does comedy have in ‘serious culture’? How has that role evolved, from Shakespeare’s mechanicals to Steptoe and Son and beyond? Dickens’ ‘streaky bacon’ approach alternated comedy and drama – but should they even be regarded as separate genres any more when a character like Tony Soprano terrifies us and makes us laugh in equal measure? And why is it said that dying is easy, but comedy is hard?
The RSA gathers together a panel of leading writers and producers from both sides of the Atlantic to explore these questions and many more.
Speakers: Caryn Mandabach, Emmy-Award-winning US TV comedy producer of ground-breaking shows such as The Cosby Show, Roseanne, 3rd Rock from the Sun, That 70s Show and, most recently, Nurse Jackie; Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, writers of Peep Show, Four Lions (Feature, Dir. Chris Morris), That Mitchell and Webb Look, The Thick of It; Simon Nye, writer of Men Behaving Badly, How Do You Want Me?, My Family and Other Animals and Reggie Perrin.