The twists keep coming

10 June 2023 9:00 am

Murray’s immersive, beautifully written mega-tome about a family in a small town in Ireland is as funny as it is deeply disturbing

How Ireland lost its craic

3 June 2023 9:00 am

When did the Irish lose their sense of humour?

Laughing in the face of cancer

20 May 2023 9:00 am

Sylvia Patterson manages to bring much rackety humour to bear in her descriptions of the pain and indignity her treatment involves

My existential crisis was straight out the terrible twos’ playbook

19 February 2022 9:00 am

Early on St Valentines Day I walked down to the car park where the raindrops were knocking off the young…

A meditation on everyday life: Early Morning Riser, by Katherine Heiny, reviewed

1 May 2021 9:00 am

There were many moments in Early Morning Riser that made me laugh out loud in recognition. An episode where the…

Is there anything left worth joking about?

28 November 2020 9:00 am

Here are a couple of books that seek to tackle the difficult issue of comedy on the front line. One…

The peerless social satire of Pont of Punch

14 November 2020 9:00 am

The timeless brilliance of Pont of Punch

Why does no one want to be a cartoonist any more?

25 July 2020 9:00 am

Cartoonists are facing ever-tougher competition

Why we’re all in love with Fleabag

11 January 2020 9:00 am

Why would you need the scripts for Fleabag? It’s hardly a lost classic. It’s always popping up on BBC iPlayer.…

Comedy in the era of Twitter outrage: An interview with Ricky Gervais

21 December 2019 9:00 am

There’s a moment in Ricky Gervais’s 2018 Netflix stand-up show Humanity when he talks about buying a first-class air ticket,…

Children’s questions about death are consistently good fun

16 November 2019 9:00 am

What strikes me most about the Christmas gift-book industry — for industry it surely is, as I can confirm, having…

Sam Lipsyte. Credit: Ceridwen Morris

Hitting the bull’s-eye: Hark, by Sam Lipsyte, reviewed

16 February 2019 9:00 am

This is an ebullient, irreverent and deeply serious novel in the noble tradition of Mark Twain, Sinclair Lewis (especially Babbitt…

David Sedaris, the current king of humorists, is often not funny at all

28 July 2018 9:00 am

Since the 17th century, a ‘humourist’ has been a witty person, and especially someone skilled in literary comedy. In 1871,…

The critics may have liked The Death of Stalin but the French certainly don’t

12 May 2018 9:00 am

Should I or shouldn’t I go and see The Death of Stalin, showing at the French village cinema last Sunday…

Dear Mary: At a smart dinner party, is it wrong to ask for the wifi code?

21 April 2018 9:00 am

Q. My husband and I are excited to have been invited to dinner by our most important neighbour. However our…

Are vets the new transgenders?

27 January 2018 9:00 am

The vet who is unhappy that I cracked a joke about vets has received the backing of the British Veterinary…

Melissa Kite: The death of humour

20 January 2018 9:00 am

A vet has accused me of a ‘hate crime’ for making a joke about vets. On the basis that everything…

Christmas quiz books galore

9 December 2017 9:00 am

There can be few challenges more daunting for the assiduous reviewer than a pile of Christmas ‘gift’ books sitting on…

How can I prevent my husband from burning all my post?

18 November 2017 9:00 am

If you don’t yet watch Gogglebox on Channel 4, start doing so now. Far from making you despise our couch-potato…

Dear Mary

28 October 2017 9:00 am

Q. What is the etiquette of hospital visiting? A friend in his fifties is about to spend six weeks in…


28 October 2017 9:00 am

Veronica, who looks at Twitter, told me of an exchange she thought would interest me, about the use of the.…

Dear Mary

14 October 2017 9:00 am

Q. A well-known television mogul,whom I had met only once, came to dinner at my house. I was on good…

How a grumpy llama became the third person in our relationship

14 May 2016 9:00 am

Gussie is the name of a grumpy and ill-natured llama, her coat largely white and somewhat unkempt, and much given…

Dear Mary: My doctor keeps asking me for advice on selling furniture

7 May 2016 9:00 am

Q. I know it’s a gaffe to ask a doctor for medical advice at a party, but what is the…

From Jekyll back to Hyde: the changing face of Begbie

23 April 2016 9:00 am

Irvine Welsh’s 1993 debut novel Train-spotting flicked a hearty V-sign in the face of alarm-clock Britain. ‘Ah choose no tae…