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Is It Funny?

Is It Funny?

By Kate Laity
This is not a comedy podcast (nor a Magritte painting), but an exploration of why we love and need comedy.
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Episode 5 -- Boring
We spend our lives trying to avoid boredom but isn't it true that some of the funniest moments in comedy come from boring people? Or are they really boring? What makes a boring person funny? What makes a boring person boring? What has Henri Bergson to do with all this? Warning contains: Uncle Colm, Arthur Grole, Eric Olthwaite and more boring people.  With your host Dr Kate Laity
September 25, 2020
Episode 4 -- Beyond the Fringe
This 1962 Edinburgh festival show kicked off the 'satire boom' of the 60s and made stars of Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller, Alan Bennett and Dudley Moore. I trace it all back to hearing that first LP. A mix of individual performances and group theatrics, much of it hold up even today. 
September 18, 2020
Episode 3 -- The Goons Especially Spike
This episode deals with the influence of the Goon Show, especially Spike Milligan. The anarchic spirit of the radio programme ironically arose from the experiences of the cast in the military during World War II. The show broke many of the rules of comedy that were thought iron-clad and the surreal scripts -- mostly by Milligan -- influenced a whole generation of comedy performers and writers as well as musicians. Milligan, Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe -- and for one series, Michael Bentine -- brought a new kind of comedy to the airwaves, along with a unique approach to sound, and the lively jazz music performed by Ray Ellington, himself a Black Jewish son of a musical hall comedian. [Two rude words is the total sum of the 'explicit content']
September 11, 2020
Episode 2 -- The British Invasion
What is the first thing you can remember being funny? While we tend to remember things better as we age (until a certain age when it all begins to drop away again) in the early experiences of our lives many of the patterns are set for the rest of our lives. The weird mix of comedy coincidences in my childhood led to an explosion of interest in comedy at a very geeky level in adolescence. From P. L. Travers and Lewis Carroll to Monty Python and the Goons isn't as big a jump as it might seem at first.
September 1, 2020
Episode 1 – What is Comedy Anyway?
What is Comedy Anyway? Does anybody really know? Why start a podcast? Why on this topic? I’m Kate Laity and while I am a Doctor of Philosophy I don’t really have any expertise on comedy. No one is begging me to do a podcast. It seems quite pointless given that everyone and their brothers are starting a podcast in the midst of this pandemic. So why? The truth is I have had an almost life-long love for comedy. But not all comedy. I realise I have a deep love for very particular kinds of comedy and that many people do not share it. Almost for as long as I have loved comedy I have been aware of this discrepancy. How do we form a sense of humour? Is my belief that I formed my sense of humour in early childhood just a fanciful notion? Or is there something to it? Why do our senses of humour vary so? Is it a cultural phenomenon or is there something innate in us as humans that needs comedy? Annotated transcript available at
August 24, 2020