Today, the notion that comedy must have “meaning” is so entrenched in the business that anyone who plays a routine purely for laughs is considered not merely tame but suspect.
Last week’s award is, then, for something more than Vine’s ability to write a smart joke.
It recognises that there is plenty to celebrate in the survival of a style of comedy that was supposed to have become obsolete.
Beaming with middle-class wholesomeness and the benefits of a stern Christian upbringing, Tim can be seen as a welcome antidote to the alternative tyranny.
Older audiences like him because he’s a throwback to how things used to be, younger ones because they haven’t seen anything like him.Women enjoy him because he isn’t angry, and men because he doesn’t endlessly flog the dog-eared, bloke-as-perpetual-loser routines. “It can only be one line and it has to be funny.” Thus are trade secrets preserved, and we are left to figure out for ourselves why Mr Vine’s latest effort won the prize for the funniest joke at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.What appears to make less sense is that the shamelessly old-fashioned, fast-fire, clean and corny humour served up by Mr Vine and a handful of fellow diehards still packs them in two decades after we were told that sophisticated modern audiences had moved on.
The knack, according to seasoned hands, is arranging the order so that the good ones will carry the stinkers. I said: 'Don’t be Sicily’.” When you tell as many gags as Mr Vine – current holder of the world record with 499 in an hour – it stands to reason that some of them will hit the spot.