Laughter has been long recognized as "the best medicine" -- medieval surgeons cracked jokes to distract their anesthesia-free patients from the pain, and Freud argued that humor released negative psychic energy.But what role does comedy have in "serious culture"? How has that role evolved, from Shakespeare's mechanicals to Steptoe and Son and beyond? Dickens' "streaky bacon" approach alternated comedy and drama -- but should they even be regarded as separate genres any more when a character like Tony Soprano terrifies us and makes us laugh in equal measure? And why is it said that dying is easy, but comedy is hard?The RSA gathers together a panel of leading writers and producers from both sides of the Atlantic to explore these questions and many more.moreless
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