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What makes British humor more unique (or not) than other English speaking humor


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#1 of 43 OFFLINE   Joe Burton

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Posted March 11 2002 - 08:55 PM

What do you think makes British (cinema and tv humor) better and / or more unique than other English speaking cinema and tv humor and can you give any witty examples to prove your point. I'm not British by birth, but I read something somewhere saying Americans have an irony deficiency.

#2 of 43 OFFLINE   Per Berger

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Posted March 11 2002 - 11:39 PM

As I see it, one difference is that the Brittish can make jokes about themselves and find them funny...

/P

#3 of 43 OFFLINE   Ike

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Posted March 11 2002 - 11:53 PM

Irony deficiency? Hmm....

#4 of 43 OFFLINE   Paul_D

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Posted March 12 2002 - 02:35 AM

Quote:
What do you think makes British (cinema and tv humor) better and / or more unique than other English speaking cinema and tv humor

It isn't better. British comedy sucks. Maybe 20-30 years ago, the writing of SOME British sitcoms was sharper than that of their American counter-parts, but nowadays I think American comedy is MUCH funnier. Give me Seinfeld and Larry Sanders over Mr. Bean and Birds of a Feather any day of the week. And twice on Sundays! Posted Image

P.S. British film comedy is universally garbage. Haven't laughed at a British comedy in years and years and years......
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#5 of 43 OFFLINE   BrianB

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Posted March 12 2002 - 02:50 AM

Quote:
It isn't better. British comedy sucks. Maybe 20-30 years ago, the writing of SOME British sitcoms was sharper than that of their American counter-parts, but nowadays I think American comedy is MUCH funnier. Give me Seinfeld and Larry Sanders over Mr. Bean and Birds of a Feather any day of the week. And twice on Sundays

Yup, I'd rather watch those two too.

But you're not comparing like to like, Paul. British TV only picks up the good American comedies - you're 'missing out' on the dross American sitcoms that pad out the schedules. Believe me, there's a *ton* of vapid TV that even Channel 5 wouldn't dream of picking up.

There's nothing over here to rival League of Gentleman, Father Ted or Red Dwarf for example. There's /nothing/ like Men Behaving Badly - the American version completely & utterly missed the point.

But wasn't the original question about British humour? It's simple - it's self-depreciating with a strong sense of sarcasm & irony, as well as a good sense of stupidity.
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#6 of 43 OFFLINE   Paul_D

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Posted March 12 2002 - 04:58 AM

Quote:
There's nothing over here to rival League of Gentleman...

Absolute unadulterated rubbish IMO. Not only un-funny, but embarrassingly so.

Quote:
...Father Ted...

Clever in places, but not without its fair share of crap comedy: Father Jack - the most pitiful excuse for a running gag I have ever had the displeasure of witnessing.

Quote:
...Red Dwarf...

The last two series were ABSOLUTE STINKERS. Not one funny gag. Such a disappointment.

Quote:
There's /nothing/ like Men Behaving Badly

I feel a bit silly just repeating myself over and over again, but.... is this funny? Not in my book. Good at first, but the persistent, "why won't so and so shag me?" began to really drag.

Quote:
But wasn't the original question about British humour? It's simple - it's self-depreciating with a strong sense of sarcasm & irony, as well as a good sense of stupidity.

I would find it difficult to discuss the basis for British humour without considering British TV and film comedy. In my book, they're at the core of how it is defined today. Stuff like Carry On is the strongest definition of British humor to me. Otherwise, I wouldn't really know where to begin.
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#7 of 43 OFFLINE   BrianB

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Posted March 12 2002 - 05:15 AM

We'll have to agree to disagree, Paul, we've got complete polar tastes by the looks of things.
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#8 of 43 OFFLINE   Bhagi Katbamna

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Posted March 12 2002 - 06:24 AM

American comedy tends to proclaim to everyone:
"Look at me, I'm funny" whereas English comedy seems more subtle(there are exceptions of course).
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#9 of 43 OFFLINE   Jason Handy

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Posted March 12 2002 - 06:30 AM

I personally think that you have to pay more attention when you watch British sitcoms because the jokes can be more complex and tongue-in-cheek. Some of my favorite British comedy is Fry and Laurie...some of that stuff puts me in such a stitch that I can't breathe correctly. And don't forget Absolutely Fabulous.

Much of America's humor is driven by short attention spans and obvious, slap-you-in-the-face punchlines. I find myself chortling for hours after watching a good brit sitcom, but the American shows leave me wanting more.

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#10 of 43 OFFLINE   Ken_McAlinden

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Posted March 12 2002 - 07:44 AM

I don't think that the differences are all that great. The general stereotype is that British humor is more subtle, ironic, and based on understatement, but I think that it is just that, a stereotype. There are far too many exceptions for it to be generally applicable.

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#11 of 43 OFFLINE   Michael Caicedo

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Posted March 12 2002 - 07:51 AM

Quote:
There are far too many exceptions for it to be generally applicable.

I dont't know why but, this brings Benny Hill to mind Posted Image The last time I mentioned Benny Hill to a Brit he told me Benny was the only Brit with an American sense of humor.
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#12 of 43 OFFLINE   BrianB

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Posted March 12 2002 - 07:52 AM

You know how some Americans puzzle over Jerry Lewis' popularity in France? That's how I feel about Benny Hill in the US Posted Image

He's an anachronism that's given zero time these days. The Carry On movies, as pointed out before, are a better example of the 'saucy postcard' humour.
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#13 of 43 Guest_Anthony_Gomez_*

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Posted March 12 2002 - 07:55 AM

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You know how some Americans puzzle over Jerry Lewis' popularity in France? That's how I feel about Benny Hill in the US

Amen!

I personally can't stand most (but not all) british comedy.

#14 of 43 OFFLINE   Jay Heyl

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Posted March 12 2002 - 01:01 PM

Quote:
but I read something somewhere saying Americans have an irony deficiency.
The biggest problem Americans have with irony is identifying it. We've got Alanis Morisette singing "Isn't It Ironic" in which the only irony is that NONE of the things she mentions is ironic. Isn't it ironic? No, Alanis, it isn't. Rain on your wedding day is unfortunate, it isn't ironic. Rain on the weatherman's wedding day is ironic.

#15 of 43 OFFLINE   Greg_Y

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Posted March 12 2002 - 01:11 PM

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Isn't it ironic? No, Alanis, it isn't. Rain on your wedding day is unfortunate, it isn't ironic. Rain on the weatherman's wedding day is ironic.

Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

I think the more important question is: What makes British women less attractive (or not) than other caucasian women? Extremely limited gene pool? Tenuous grasp on the concept of oral hygiene?

#16 of 43 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted March 12 2002 - 06:27 PM

Greg, having thus insulted the partners of several men on this thread, would you like to say anything else? Admittedly, we cannot every hope to produce anyone over here to compare in beauty with Roseanne or Ellen Degeneries, but we are trying very hard, and our scientists are hopeful that within a couple of generations we *might* produce someone as attractive as, say, Hilary Clinton.

And will you guys please lay off the dentistry jokes? Brits want their teeth to look real, not like a mouth full of dentures.

#17 of 43 OFFLINE   Greg_Y

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Posted March 12 2002 - 11:30 PM

It was all a joke. I'm sorry you were offended.

#18 of 43 OFFLINE   Ike

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Posted March 12 2002 - 11:47 PM

Apparently British humour isn't self-depreciating. Posted Image

I think we shouldn't sell one short, and give the other credit. For every Seinfeld and Larry Sanders, there's a Family House or Raising Dad. And for every lousy Brit-com( I think we get them all on PBS), there's a Monty Python or Louie Theroux.

#19 of 43 OFFLINE   TheoGB

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Posted March 12 2002 - 11:51 PM

Quote:
more unique
Posted Image
Humorous and ironic - man you're halfway there!

And it's British humour - humor isn't a word over her - it's a typo.

Paul, the last Blackadder series was only, hell 13 years ago and that's bloody funny, and poignant.

The 'official' final Only Fools and Horses a few years back were still very funny and the whole series sits inside your 20-30 year area.

Have you watched Spaced any time recently. I don't know that British humour has got bad but we just don't bother making sitcoms anymore as they've got kind of dull.

Did you ever see The Fast Show? Perhaps you're just strange, Paul! Posted Image

As far as the U.S. stuff we have on import goes, it's all very old - Friends, Frasier and The Simpsons are the only U.S. stuff I can think of that's popular. And beyond that, I can't actually think of anything particularly hilarious from the U.S. that I saw aside from the legendary Dream On or Mash. It can be funny, yes, but I rarely get the kind of belly laughs the early Red Dwarf series or Spaced now gives me.

#20 of 43 OFFLINE   Ike

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Posted March 13 2002 - 12:06 AM

Quote:
As far as the U.S. stuff we have on import goes, it's all very old - Friends, Frasier and The Simpsons are the only U.S. stuff I can think of that's popular. And beyond that, I can't actually think of anything particularly hilarious from the U.S. that I saw aside from the legendary Dream On or Mash. It can be funny, yes, but I rarely get the kind of belly laughs the early Red Dwarf series or Spaced now gives me.

Do you get South Park, Sex and the City, Mr. Show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Sopranos (dark humour), and The Daily Show over there? (Very HBO heavy, but it's better than commercial TV, and can be smarter)

They show Red Dwarf on PBS, and I don't know what season it is, but it's just not funny. It seems very broad, and no better than a lot of the junk we have on.

(What does 'series' mean to the Brits? Here it means a full run of a show. So, all 11 years of The Simpsons would be called a series. It seems you are using it like we would 'season'. Is that it?)


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