Letter: Last laugh

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The Independent Online
HOW STRANGE that Ireland, land of such famous wits as Oscar Wilde and Oliver St John Gogarty, should be accused of stupidity ('Punch lines that kept the Irish in their place', 12 June). The truth is that Irish humour is too subtle for duller races to comprehend.

For instance, if anyone is being laughed at in the joke quoted it is the tourist with his condescending, 'And how do I find the crops is it?' To which the despised peasant replies with a wit too disconcerting for the upper-class twit to understand, 'Sure, your honour, 'tis by diggin' for 'em, any way.' This is exactly like the girl in the Dublin tourist office who, when asked what was the cheapest way to get to New York, replied, 'By swimming'. Or like the man in the Dublin pub who, asked if there wasn't a smell of gas, replied, 'That'll be the gas. It does smell.' Real Irish humour relies on the statement of something so glaringly obvious that it has been overlooked. Its intention is comic and subversive.

Graham Dunstan Martin

Edinburgh

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