Tuesday, 27 December 2011
What do you think of it so far?: Comedy in Utopia
Took my Mum for a Boxing Day visit to the Eric Morecambe statue at Morecambe seafront yesterday. We always used to watch Morecambe and Wise Christmas specials at home in my teenage days, and we all remain fans, even so many years later. When I was a Lancaster city councillor there was some talk of developing a Museum of Comedy at Morecambe to build on the success of the statue, though sadly that has not happened. Not yet, anyway.
Our visit made me wonder about comedy and humour in utopia. One doesn’t think of utopia as a laugh-a-minute genre – indeed, quite the opposite, with those long turgid lectures we tend to get from the Old Man who Knows Everything (to borrow H.G. Wells’s phrase). None the less, there are jokes (as well as much generalised neighbourliness) in utopia; and Morris’s News from Nowhere does occasionally reflect on the nature of humour in an ideal society.
For it may be that the threshold of comedy will be very much lower in utopia. When William Guest complains that the remarks of Dick Hammond’s workmates are ‘not much of a joke’, Dick retorts that ’everything seems like a joke when we have a pleasant spell of work on, and good fellows merry about us’ (ch.VII). So perhaps, in utopia, you wouldn’t need a Museum of Comedy as such because social life in general will have been ‘Eric Morecambeised’. My Mum certainly hopes so!