Comedy is tragedy plus time, says Stuart Jeffries in a profile of the actor Dennis Hopper.
In other words, time creates the detachment which I have noted is necessary for comedy. But time, or rather the past, is not valued in our culture - we are hooked on the new and the searingly up-to-date. Unlike novelists of the nineteenth century, who often set their novels just a few years earlier than the time in which they were writing, today's novelists, if they are not writing out-and-out historical novels, must concentrate on the undigested now in order to be packaged as marketably 'contemporary'. Is this then why our novelistic culture is so lacking in comedy, as Julian Gough claims?