The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Cover Story -

Com­edy, wrote Freud, is sadism. For this rea­son, noth­ing quite tick­les like the back­track gag. In it’s clas­sic form it’s a sim­ple “Er, I didn’t mean you; I meant some other marine bi­ol­o­gist”. But the back­track al­ways works best when some­one at­tempts a U-turn only to be­come in­creas­ingly des­per­ate.

Like when Tina Fey finds gum un­der her ta­ble in Baby Mama, Amy Poehler’s wide-eyed de­nial soon goes on the of­fen­sive: “I don’t know! Maybe you stuck some of it un­der there. Bitch, I don’t know your life!”

Or when Will Fer­rell “agrees to dis­agree” af­ter his at­tempts to im­press Christina Ap­ple­gate with his­tor­i­cal fac­toids in

An­chor­man come to noth­ing: “Dis­cov­ered by the Ger­mans in 1904, they named it San Diego, which of course in Ger­man means a whale’s vagina . . . I’m sorry, I was try­ing to im­press

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