Letter: Cruel without bias

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Sir: Yet again the cognoscenti - or in this case Philip Hensher (Comment, 29 January) - lambaste Bernard manning as being unfunny, the cruellest of insults for any comedian.

As a writer researching the social importance of humour, I have attended a number of performances by so called "offensive" comedians such as Chubby Brown, the late Bill Hicks and of course Bernard Manning. What they all have in common, Mr Manning included, is that they, without fail, make their audiences laugh.

Whether or not I like their subject matter, if they, as they often do, reduce those who pay good money to see them to tears of laughter, I can only assume they are funny. Clearly, what is offensive to the average intellectual, politically correct broadsheet columnist is side-splittingly funny to thousands of people who are prepared to buy this brand of humour either in the form of live performances or in recorded material.

People claim Bernard manning is sexist and racist, but in truth he attacks everyone - his act is that of a true misanthropist. He is every bit as likely to launch into a member of the audience for being pasty-faced or badly dressed as he is for them being black or Asian. Everyone in the audience is a potential target. Maybe the frisson of possibly being singled out for ridicule and momentarily appearing in the spotlight is, along with the joy of watching others squirm, what drives people along in their droves.

Dr CRISPIAN BEASLEY

Reading, Berkshire

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