Nov 8, 2006

I still love you, Oscar

Kathryn Hughes doesn't like witty people, particularly Oscar Wilde.
Compulsive wits are usually the least congenial guests at any party. So busy concentrating on delivering their "material" as amusingly as possible, they have no interest in other people beyond their role as admiring audience. Heaven help you if you accidentally talk over the punchline while a compulsive wit is speaking. He or she will glare at you, raise their voice, and say the line more loudly than before, furious at the way you have rained on their parade. Nor will they listen properly to what you have to say, instead scanning your conversation for possible openings into which they might jump with a prepared joke before skittering off conversationally in a direction that suits them better.

Most tiresome of all, the compulsive wit is never off duty. Can you imagine Kathy Lette slumped at the kitchen table answering questions from her family without feeling the need to pun? Or Noel Coward getting into a lift and resisting making a remark about the potency of cheap music? Or Clive James managing to talk about his most recent holiday without feeling the need to be funny about virtually everything?

Yeah, I much prefer sitting around shooting the shit with a bunch of dullards.

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