When it comes to having a laugh we have always viewed ourselves as a cut above everybody else. The British comedy hall of fame is a vastly broad church, inhabited by true greats such as Morecambe and Wise, Peter Sellers and Charlie Chaplin.
Our sense of humour is an export to rival the Mini, but is all this changing?
We live in an age where it seems that every other person is poised and ready to take offence at an off-the-cuff comment or a near-the-knuckle tweet, meaning nearly all social media users feel compelled to use the tedious caveat 'views are my own and don't reflect my employer or the next door neighbour’.
Recently careers have been ended, some rightly so, when poorly framed ‘jokes’ or social media posts fall foul of the baying mob, which rarely finds anything funny.
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The parameters of what we are allowed to laugh about in public are narrowing fast. A prime example of this came in the shape of regulations which were introduced last week to prevent the use of ‘harmful’ stereotypes in broadcast advertising.
Examples used include adverts depicting men as clueless dads who have no idea how to put on a disposable nappy or those which suggest women are not very good at parking cars. While both examples are well worn stereotypes, this does seem like a particularly po-faced move.
I must have changed 500 nappies in my time but, like a good few of my mates, I never really got it right and I can’t ever recall Mrs Tapp putting one on back to front.
Yes, they are lame stereotypes but some find them amusing because, like me, they can relate to them.
What I object to most about the Advertising Standards Authority’s new guidelines is harmless ones are outlawed while advertisers are still allowed to use impossibly beautiful people to flog their wares.
There was a time when we would have a good laugh at the pickles we find ourselves in but it simply isn’t funny anymore.