How We Used to Laugh!

What do sitcoms such as ‘Only Fools and Horses’, ‘Porridge’, ‘Fawlty Towers’, ‘Open All Hours’, ‘The Inbetweeners’ and ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ all have in common? Apart from being uproariously brilliant, each and every one of those gems ended well over a decade ago. Even the last two are now almost 15 years old! Both the adolescent misfits of Rudge Park school and the young-at-heart OAPs from the rolling hills of Holmfirth said “farewell” to their devoted audiences in 2010. Whenever you glance through a copy of the Radio Times, or else browse you television’s programme guide facility, you will never find a new sit-com. If you want a good belly laugh, you have to tune into channels such as Dave, Drama, Yesterday or That’s TV to find those comedy classics of your former years. Even then you’re subjected to a cigarette smoking-style health warning pasted across the top of the screen, preparing today’s thinner-skinned youngsters for the prospect of being offended by a punchline or comedy situation those of us brought up in happier times simply found side-splitting.

Have you ever wondered why the brilliance of British situation comedy has now gone the way of typewriters, 8-tracks and Reckitt’s Blue? It’s not hard to work it out. Comedy, in its very essence, involves pushing boundaries in order to get an audience reaction. As we’re tragically living through times when almost anything that can be said, inferred or conveyed by use of Makaton has the potential to offend some delicate wallflower, TV companies and film studios alike have decided to call time on the desire to cheer people up. The, often, small minorities who might take offence are elevated to a higher plain of consideration than the drive for mass consumer appeal. As the great comedian Rowan Atkinson said in an interview for the Irish Times:

‘“It does seem to me that the job of comedy is to offend, or have the potential to offend, and it cannot be drained of that potential,” Atkinson said of cancel culture. “Every joke has a victim. That’s the definition of a joke. Someone or something or an idea is made to look ridiculous.”’ (

Of course every joke has a victim – either due to their country of origin; their gender; their perceived intellectual capacity; their ethnicity; their sexual persuasion or their political beliefs. That is the way of comedy. Previous generations had the ability to see beyond the comedic stereotyping for the backdrops of nuance, situation complexity or an overall endearing story that would contextualise such attitudes or characters. Not now! Today we have legions of social media and street activists who are determined that the rest of us live in a world as dull as that which exists inside their own heads! Where actual comedy exists it must be neutered, expurgated, explained away, analysed incessantly for signs of disapproval, or simply banned altogether.

Let’s look at a brilliant example. Those of us who were lucky enough to be raised watching ‘Only Fools and Horses’ couldn’t help but laugh in spades at the character of Trigger. Each new episode was anticipatedly watched as much for a new ‘Triggerism’ (a one-liner rooted in total stupidity) as it was for the mishaps of the Trotter brothers (

In real life, Roger Lloyd-Pack was a refined British actor who had performed Shakespeare among other things in his very varied CV. But in this, he just became this somewhat dim, strangely loveable road sweeper with a penchant for unwittingly coming out with the most absurd statements. I couldn’t imagine a character like Trigger in a sitcom in 2024. There would be too many idiots complaining he was a stereotype of a person with learning disabilities, or offensive to those who had been bullied for their lack of intelligence at school. And it wouldn’t end there. Jack Harper (the clippie in ‘On the Buses’) would be banned on the grounds of being a lecherous rogue; Alf Garnett for being a personification of ‘white privilege’; and Sybil Fawlty for encouraging domestic violence against men. In short, when you live in a society where so many people are willing to claim offence at anything and everything, the rest of us have to endure both the social AND the cultural consequences of that. One of those consequences being the annihilation of the conditions needed for comedy innovation to grow and flourish at the behest of perma-offended sociopaths such as Ryan Coogan (

Britain – and I would argue large parts of the developed world – are now under the control of Woke mobsters determined to both change their countries into unrecognisable entities, and to remove the ability to use laughter as a release valve to alleviate the stresses associated with this grand plan. They have atomised their respective societies as much by their use of culture wars as they have, say, with mass uncontrolled immigration or the weaponisation of biological fact. I had the pleasure of sitting down to watch my DVD copy of ‘East is East’ the other day. That film is now 25 years old (, having been released before racial and religious stereotypes (with more than an element of uncomfortable truth about them) became an offence punishable by nothing less than God’s own wrath, 25 years hard labour and a fatwa issued by the Iranian Ayatollah. Imagine the reaction were that brilliant picture to be announced today! Why, Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf (who likes to think of himself as a hybrid of Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Kenneth McKellar) would be doubling down on his Hate Crime Bill like never before (

In conclusion, I’d advise those of my generation and older to keep the flame alive by watching the wonderful comedies we grew up with. For some of the younger generations, unfortunate enough to be denied that golden opportunity, check out the fantastic British sitcoms and comedy films of yesteryear….and be sure to give a two-fingered salute to anyone who attempts to prevent you from doing so.

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3 thoughts on “How We Used to Laugh!

  1. Ok Boomer. What films would you recommend? Gone with the Wind or Sing a Song of Sixpence?

    1. Something that makes me laugh. And your two examples do not. A bit of ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ wouldn’t go amiss.

  2. you gotta love someone who calls himself “Grandad” insulting someone by calling them a boomer….


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