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You’re at a party, perhaps finding your next drink, when someone you hardly know comes up and asks: ‘Hey, want to hear a good one?’ The real answer is almost always: ‘No, thank you,’ but as a polite guest, what choice do you really have? This excerpt from the film Shepherd’s Delight (1984) drops the viewer directly into this awkward scenario, with a quip about two racehorses talking shop in a bar. As the joke-teller eagerly addresses his audience, a wry running commentary breaks down the psychological minutiae of joke-telling, including the many emotions – from discomfort to sweet relief – experienced by the audience. Infused with a peculiar, subversive sense of humour, the UK filmmaker John Smith’s short is a mad meta-comedy – clever, a bit mean and discomfitingly relatable.
Director: John Smith
‘Why does life have to be so complicated?’ A school trip to the world of work
Philosophy of mind
Forget babbling and toddling – mindreading is babies’ most incredible skill
Water, salt and music form a mesmerising visualisation of sound waves
Sex and sexuality
What does the Dutch model of comprehensive, ‘shame-free’ sex-ed look like?
Film and visual culture
A Palme d’Or-winning animation toys with the way our eyes perceive light
How a self-taught autistic artist mines creativity from life’s endless variations
Nature and landscape
An afternoon with hobbyist diamond miners in Arkansas is a thing of rare beauty
What can a Kurosawa classic tell us about reality, knowledge and truth?
Witness the majesty of moths taking flight at 6,000 frames per second