My father has physical need for uncontrolled laughter. This may be genetic, as I suffer the compulsion, too. Neither of us is especially funny, but we have long been especially committed to seek the funny out. It was Dad -- a man who claims to have acquired a hernia during a 1972 screening of The Adventures of Barry McKenzie -- who urged me to become a newspaper comedy critic about twenty years ago. “It’ll be good for your career,” he said, “It’s prestigious.”

There is, as you know, nothing prestigious about this low form of review. Nothing lucrative, either. Dad, who had always hoped I would become a union lawyer, was really just in it for the free tickets.