08 February 2024, The Tablet

Aristophanes unbound – funny, poignant, clever, beguiling mark lawson

Not only the ­foundation of stage comedy, but also the earliest­ example of a play about the function of theatre.

Toby Park and Aitor Basauri in the oldest surviving comic drama in the repertoire.
photo: manuel harlan


In an entertaining recent BBC Radio 4 series, Ian Hislop’s Oldest Jokes, the editor of Private Eye collected some of history’s most superannuated humour, starting with the sixth-century Vatican rib-­tickler in which Pope Gregory punned in Latin that the English were “not Angles but Angels”.



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