What is the connection between comedy and tragedy? Why do we find tragedy in the arts comic? If the brute matter of tragedy consists of pain, grief, death, and bereavement, laughter brings forward tough questions about the distance from which we view it. From the safety of afar, human antics may appear to be hilarious and we find ourselves laughing ‘down’, in derision. ‘No laughing matter’ raises the question of comedy in tragedy, especially the role of scornful laughter, both for characters within the fiction and for audiences and readers outside it. Can anything be turned to laughter? The despair of others can appear comic.