Wednesday, October 08, 2008

American/British humor

My blog friend, Sefton Taxis, and I have been discussing the difference between British and American humor. I'm not one for British humor... matter of fact, I don't understand it or just don't think it's funny, and he's the same w/ American comedians.

Take a look at his blog and see if you think this guy he has posted is funny.... I don't. If so.. I'm interested to hear why you think he is and such.

What other Brits don't like American humor??? I wonder why the big difference??? Any suggestions?


Chief Rock Chef said...

Yes, that is very British - I loved it.

I must say, though, that I also like a lot of American humour.

The Moody Minstrel said...

I've always loved British humor! I spent most of my youth watching Monty Python and Benny Hill on TV (in Oregon to boot) and later came to appreciate Mr. Bean (the TV show, at least).

I think the reason British and American humor are so different is that each pokes fun at its respective culture. Traditional (underline, underscore) British culture is so correct, so focused on (and yet at the same time contemptuous of) a "broomstick-up-the-arse" vision of reality, that a "totally silly" escape from said reality is welcome. Monty Python is a very clear-cut example: you see the actors behaving in that stodgy way, talking in that snooty-sounding sense ("You vacuous, toffee-nosed, malodorous pervert!"), while at the same time doing things that are totally off the wall. Even in that video on Sefton Taxi's site, the comedian is portraying a medium. Mediums are supposed to behave in a certain, proper way. He's not. He's making a fool out of the whole idea of being a medium helping a poor, old lady contact her dead husband. It's a total mockery of a what a "proper" world should be. That's what makes it so funny (to me, at least). On the other hand, American culture is so simple and straightforward, so "Give me my convenience, my thrill, or my bed," that American comedy tends to be the same way. No subtlety. Not much style. Just direct, in-your-face, obnoxious, jarring shock-stimulus. It's simple, from-the-gut entertainment for people who want a simple, to-the-gut lifestyle.

In my college days I was often told (by non-Americans) that I seem more European than American. I guess my taste in humor reflects that, too.

I still have trouble figuring out German humor, though...

Anthrogeek10 said...

I agree with your Americanized view. :-) To each his own....

Olivia said...

I did watch the video over on Sefton, but it disturbed me and now I feel a bit depressed. I've never liked League of Gentlemen, much less Papa Lazarou.

I agree Monty Python and Benny Hill were better - still shocking, but subversive - and the slapstick was often an added laugh.

Nowadays British humor is also "obnoxious, jarring shock-stimulus" to steal words from Minstrel.

And American comedians DO get satire, irony, and sarcasm. As I said on Sefton's blog, here I enjoy watching Craig Ferguson on his late night show on CBS. He's Scottish and a newly naturalized American, but the seeming naievete and randomness of his genial banter might not be so popular in the UK where they are expected to be more cynical, cutting, and controversial. Though at times he reminds me of the BBC's Jonathan Ross, they can match each other in their more risque moments.

When it comes to genres, I think British standup comedians are better than American, but American sitcoms are better than British. As for style, it is said that the tempo, rhythm and structure of American comedy comes from the original old school Jewish comedians who ruled the field back in the 20th century.

Gaz said...

The funniest british comedy tv series has got to be "the royle family" where they all sit round drinking tea and watching the telly(as we all do) time Chriss Evens was on the telly when Jim says "he's an idiot him" then his daughter says"he's a millionere though"jim says "he's still got ginger bo***cks though"...then his mrs (barb) ses "that reminds me,ive got some tangerines in the frige if anyone wants one........

Um Naief said...

sefton, ok..i had to laugh... but i'm not sure why. the whole tangerine in the fridge made me laugh and i'm wondering if it was the comment about the ginger bo***cks that did it... and i'm assuming that the word there is bottocks?? that was a bit funny. :) i should see if i can get that on BBC prime here.

moody, i used to really like benny hill and i'm a fan of mr. bean... and the only monty python that i liked was .... 'the meaning of life'. loved how they portrayed the catholics and protestants and the songs they'd sing w/ regards to rubbers and such. quite funny, i thought. so maybe i'm not that un-funny ;) !!

olivia, i don't know this guy you're talking about... since we only get select guys from late night tv in these parts. there are some sitcoms that i like on tv nowadays, but i do like many stand-up comics, altho many have gone to being out right rude or obnoxious, like the british... altho, i'm not sure if i catch that side of it... maybe if i sat down long enough, i would. and i would have to agree... i don't get the humor from sefton's site. that guy just didn't make me laugh in any way.

chief rock chef, glad to know you guys like the same stuff. must be something about being raised w/ certain types of funny guys. this man reminds me of the comics from years ago... the old jewish guys that thought they were so funny, but really, they're not. they still come on tv today, every now and again, and do the same skits... and still, i don't find it funny. :)