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Comedy Asserts Cultural Superiority

By Cara

British middle class people use comedy to assert cultural superiority, suggests a new survey that has been conducted across 1,000 people at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. People were asked their views on 32 comedians and television shows.

“To a certain extent a person"s taste in comedy is indicative of their social class," says Sam Friedman, an Edinburgh University sociologist, who carried out the survey.

Participants were divided into class groups on the basis of their family background, education and occupation.

Working class people in the UK usually enjoy observational humour based on everyday life that delivers gratifying and straightforward punchlines. Jim Davidson, Benny Hill, Bernard Manning and Roy 'Chubby" Brown emerged as the most popular comedians in the survey.

Shows like Brass Eye and The Thick of It are lauded by the critics, so to articulate a preference for what is regarded as the most valued comedy is a kind of badge of honour.

One has to posses a certain amount of cultural capital to get many of the jokes, so to revere these shows can be a way of excluding working class people.

Monty Python emerged as the nation"s favourite with 82 per cent of the votes. Python is universally adored because it has something for everyone – from the slapstick of The Ministry of Silly Walks to the wit of The Life of Brian.

The interesting aspect the study that was uncovered was how certain comedies appealed to different social classes for very different reasons.

Story first published: Monday, April 12, 2010, 14:49 [IST]
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