Dr Oliver Double, Reader in Drama in the School of Arts and Director of the Centre for Popular and Comic Performance, featured on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row last week, to attempt to answer why is the unfortunate mishap hilarious – so long as someone else is falling off the ladder?
Front Row is a magazine programme discussing the worlds of arts, literature, film, media and music.
‘One of the oldest theories of why we laugh is that we laugh at the expense of somebody else,’ explains Olly, who features 2 minutes into the programme, ‘we can trace this back to Aristotle, who said “comedy is an imitation of men worse than average”. But that’s not really an adequate explanation, in the sense you do laugh at Laurel and Hardy falling over but at the same time they also inspire great affection.”
Olly was interviewed alongside Jonathan Sayer of Mischief Theatre, and stand-up comedienne Natalie Haynes.
The programme may be heard here: