The below excerpts are all from the book Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton, where he discusses the role of comedy in taking over-inflated egos down a peg or two where necessary.

“…jokes are a way of anchoring a criticism…another way of complaining: about arrogance, cruelty or pomposity, about departures from virtue and good sense.

“…the apparent innocence of jokes allows comics to convey messages that could be dangerous or impossible to voice directly. Historically, it is the jesters at court who have been allowed to tell royals serious things that could not have been said to them seriously…

“We laugh at kings whose self-image has outgrown their worth, whose goodness has not kept up with their power…

“…laughter hence acquires a moral purpose, jokes become attempts to cajole others into reforming their characters and habits.

“…much humour reveals an attempt to name, and thereby contain, anxiety about status. It reassures us that there are others in the world no less envious or socially fragile than we are… and that beneath the sober appearance society demands of us, most of us are going a little out of our minds