Stewart uses humour frequently in the play to add relief and to show the resilience of the characters enduring such social conditions. Granny often provides humour – we see her sucking sweeties and singing, which is almost caricatural.
We therefore feel sympathy for her when she is shunted around with her bed from Maggie to Lizzie – especially when Lizzie is only concerned with her pension book.
Early in Act III, there are comic moments to establish the upbeat atmosphere now that John has found work. Ernest is listening to jazz music. This annoys Maggie, who says the musician has
clean lost control.
Ernest explains improvisation as Louis Armstrong
daein a sort o turn to which Maggie replies
Well, you dae a turn for me, son – wi yon knob. Her amusing way of asking to turn it off makes this scene a light-hearted one. It contrasts with the intense scene of Maggie’s breakdown which precedes it.