Bettany Hughes considers changing ideas of comedy by listening to a rat laughing and by giggling at schoolboy jokes from Ancient Mesopotamia.
The Ideas That Make Us is a Radio 4 series which reveals the history of the most influential ideas in the story of civilisation, ideas which continue to affect us all today.
In this 'archaeology of philosophy', the award-winning historian and broadcaster Bettany Hughes begins each programme with the first, extant evidence of a single word-idea in Ancient Greek culture and travels both forwards and backwards in time, investigating how these ideas have been moulded by history and have shaped the human experience. In the second programme of this series, Bettany considers changing ideas of comedy with neuroscientist Dr Sophie Scott, Assyriologist Dr. Irving Finkel, Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company Gregory Doran, and comedian John Lloyd.
Other ideas examined in The Ideas that Make Us are idea, desire, agony, fame, justice, wisdom, liberty, hospitality and peace.
Producer: Dixi Stewart.