What we find funny can be cruel and hateful, it can establish symbolic boundaries that divide people into distinct groups, setting those with power against those without and vice-versa. But it is also a way of binding people together; providing consolation, a sense of shared experience and a powerful weapon of resistance.

The Double Act book, accompanying two co-curated shows at Bluecoat, Liverpool and the MAC, Belfast, examines the ways in which comedy is important in shaping meaning, and how it can help us negotiate the complexities of everyday life. Co-authored by David Campbell and Mark Durden, the book allowed them to put Common Culture's ongoing fascination with humour as a critical artistic strategy into a wider historical and aesthetic context, tracing the comedic impulse in art from Marcel Duchamp through to a diversity of contemporary artists.