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Twitter’s ‘PC brigade’ aren’t killing comedy – they’re shining a light on bigotry

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Great leaps forward in comedy happen by asking the big questions. What if you created a show that unapologetically showed the horror of war? You get M*A*S*H. What if you created a sitcom about nothing? You get Seinfeld. What if you filmed a dog falling into an indoor swimming pool while a disembodied Harry Hill makes snide comments about the wood panelling? You get You’ve Been Framed from 2004 onwards. And so we witnessed another great moment in comedy this week, when the BBC’s head of comedy asked the question we didn’t realise needed to be asked: is comedy dying because the internet is turning people into Victorians?

Last week, at the launch of the well-meaning British Comedy Foundation, Shane Allen railed against the way social media has imposed a “Victorian moral code” on comedians, which damages the medium’s ability to “test boundaries and challenge orthodoxies”.

It was a bold statement, for a number of reasons. First, it’s always fun to get a lecture about comedy being dragged back in time from a man whose department has in recent years revived Are You Being Served (which first aired in 1972), Open All Hours (1973) and Porridge (1974). Consider our boundaries truly tested.

It was also a very interesting choice to make these comments in the same week that Fleabag ended: if the adoration Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s show received on social media is evidence of a 19th-century........

© The Guardian