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Funny Across The Atlantic
February 25, 2003 9:39 AM   Subscribe

America and England: Separated By Humor? "This laughter gulf between two otherwise co-dependent cultures should not be thought surprising. The two most fundamental aspects of comedy are observation and speech rhythms and these are necessarily subject to local variation. The point has often been made that British jokes derive most often from class and puns, while US humour is rooted in gags." While talk show host Ruby Wax claims "If your language consists of little more than guttural grunts and cherry pie, you can't be blamed for not getting it." Is it any wonder her little show tanked so fast?
posted by owillis (45 comments total)

 
I've heard plenty of discussions on both sides of this humor gulf, including among a group of Brits I met while traveling in Asia. They lamented that nowhere did they find that exquisite, dry, subtle humor of England.

Of course, they didn't consider that dry, subtle humor is what is least likely to be apparent to them in other cultures' humor. It's always the obvious, physical humor that translates best. Hence nearly every culture thinks that every other culture is un-subtle in its humor.

By extension, I'm not sure I buy that the success or failure of some shows demonstrates deep temperamental differences. More likely there's a practical problem involved.

Comedy is tied up in the specific details of manners -- not to mention subtle linguistic tics or topical references -- and those don't travel well. Observers determined to find profound insights where practical problems apply are likely to just build up a mountain of unwarranted assertions.
posted by argybarg at 10:01 AM on February 25, 2003


isn't the Simpsons--with it's 'uniquely' American sense of irony--incredibly popular in England (and elsewhere)? or am i mistaken as a coarse, burger-belching, guncrazy, empire-mad american?
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 10:11 AM on February 25, 2003


or am i mistaken as a coarse, burger-belching, guncrazy, empire-mad american?

I'm surprised the defensiveness didn't occur until comment #2.

I see the biggest difference in British and and American humor in self-deprecation. It always seems to me that the British may mock the Americans, but rest assured they are mocking themselves just as much.

There is unsophisticated humor on both sides of the pond. YMMV.
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:19 AM on February 25, 2003


The English are just funnier, that's all.* Their sense of humour is always on and it applies to the whole of existence, including existence itself and, what's unique, to their own sense of humour. It's not about gags or jokes or situations - it's about the inevitable circumstances and contingencies of living. The fact that these often can't be helped only make them funnier. It's not just about class or whatever - it's about how people are the way they are and can't do anything about it. And when they try to - well that's even funnier.

And, of course, other cultures' senses of humour are hilarious because, compared to the English, they're always lacking. Foreigners are hilarious to them - and quite rightly so. Because they are to themselves too - and the fact they laugh at foreigners is funny because it's so English and parochial. See, it never ends. Bless it!

*I say English rather than British because, despite how wickedly funny the Scots and the Welsh can be, there is a chip-on-the-shoulder aspect, a dour "no-fly" zone, to do with their dignity perhaps, which prevents them from taking into account the whole of existence. I think the same applies to the Irish. They're all limited in their capacity to wholeheartedly, 100% laugh at themselves. For the English, everything is funny - no exceptions at all. That's why they're funny and the rest of the world just tries to be.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:22 AM on February 25, 2003


See, the English aren't joking - that's just the way they are.

Good post, owillis - thanks.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:24 AM on February 25, 2003


The main difference between the US & British 'sense of humour' is that 'a sense of humour' is far more important in every day life over here. [This is not to say that USians lack 'a sense of humour' or don't understand 'humour' BTW]

The first time I went to the US I learned pretty quickly that making jokey comments in everyday conversations just confused the hell out of some people. In a lot of situations where USians would make small talk or give direct answers nobody expected a joke.

A big part of British humour is mocking. Or, as we say, "taking the piss". Taking the piss out of other people or yourself...you give out you have to expect it back.

And, on preview, Migs said it so much clearly!
posted by i_cola at 10:30 AM on February 25, 2003


WTF is the deal with that jackass Mr. Bean?
posted by vito90 at 10:35 AM on February 25, 2003




*grunt*
Cherry Pie
*grunt*

Now that I've established my nationality, I wonder if the show tanked because it sucked?

Now, back to the mastodon hunt.
posted by tommasz at 10:39 AM on February 25, 2003


people are the way they are and can't do anything about it.

Sums up the most depressing part of the English pysche in a nutshell. Also explains the cross-over between English humour and Jewish humour.

Is it just me, or is there much more dark English humour than American?

And word-play jokes seem to have gone out of fashion in America ever since Danny Kaye and Rindercella.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:42 AM on February 25, 2003


Ali G: Many Americans failed to understand his humour

Failing to understand humor and simply not finding humor are different entirely. Trigger Happy TV is funny. Faulty Towers is very funny. Ali G is simply a half wit, too many of which have been given airtime already.
posted by the fire you left me at 10:50 AM on February 25, 2003


*gets on soapbox*

i do think the english would be funnier if they stopped explaining how funny they were. given that: monty python & faulty towers=hilarious, mr. bean & black adder=hilarious, zadie smith=hilarious, martin amis=hilarious, are you being served=not funny, full monty=not funny, eddie izzard=not funny. ali g? haven't seen him yet.

another pointless observation: in travelling, it seems that australians are the most like americans; what with our ex-colonial, frontier mentality, i believe we share a very similar culture and sense of humor. our movies export well to each other in a general sense.

pointing out that ali g is flopping = does that mean anything? give it time for people to catch on to what he's doing. but if not, i don't think you can blame it for lack of cultural irony. david letterman, the coen brothers, christopher walken, conan o'brien, kurt vonnegut, joseph heller, philip roth, margaret cho . . .

the defensiveness that kafkaesque pointed out to above comes from a lifelong frustration of being an educated, cultured, and proud-of-my-ancestors american (these things are not mutually exclusive), and yet always having to defend myself when travelling . . . the stereotype of the ugly american follows us even into metafilter. i know it's the curse of coming from a place that exports its lowest-common-denominator mass-media-consumption culture, but whose fault is it that that shit is eaten up so widely? all of this stereotyping is bullshit propaganda.

*gets off soapbox*
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 11:10 AM on February 25, 2003


i know it's the curse of coming from a place that exports its lowest-common-denominator mass-media-consumption culture, but whose fault is it that that shit is eaten up so widely?

And no other country in the world has this to deal with?!? The Brits as stiff upper lip types, the French as cheese-eating etcs., and so forth.

Why defend? Why not join in? Why get fustrated when you can have a laugh about it?

Pah, it's like Bill Hicks never lived ;-)
posted by i_cola at 11:35 AM on February 25, 2003


I'd be a lot more inclined to agree with i_cola if he wouldn't insist on using the nonexistent adjective "USian." Please, for the love of all things good, stop using that silly nonword. Call me a "Yank," call me "Tex," hell, you can call me late to dinner, just don't call me a "USian," or I will fly across the Atlantic and slap you with a fish, or whatever it is that the "UKians" find amusing these days.

Grr.
posted by vraxoin at 11:47 AM on February 25, 2003


The two most fundamental aspects of comedy are observation and speech rhythms and these are necessarily subject to local variation.

The problem with observational humor is simple. You have to be just far enough outside the mainstream to think "Golly, isn't that perfectly normal thing funny!" and yet be able to explain why it is funny in such a way that those of us hopelessly stuck in the mainstream will find it funny. Think of any comedian who has begun a sentence with "Did you ever notice" or "Have you heard about." The flipside of making something normal funny is making something absurd seem normal.

To simplify, let's take Monty Python. It's perfectly obvious what's funny about selling a dead parrot and pretending it's just asleep. For that matter, the French Osteopaths doing thier strange callisthenics (UN deux trois!) is funny because, as the punchline goes, "nobody knows why."

Contrast with Seinfeld. Let's take the episode where Elaine tries to get a new phone number in area code 212. The things she goes through to get it might seem normal to someone from New York, but to someone in Dallas it's just absurd. This is not to say that there are not aspects of Monty Python lost on someone who did not live in London around 1970. Indeed, the Seinfeld snapshot of late '90s Manhattan may be uninteresting/unamusing 30 years from now.
posted by ilsa at 11:48 AM on February 25, 2003


isn't the Simpsons--with it's 'uniquely' American sense of irony--incredibly popular in England

About as popular as talked about in the article. You did read it before commenting?

all of this stereotyping is bullshit propaganda

Also, pretty much what the main article said - there's a range on what people laugh at on both sides of the Atlantic.

Well done to Miguel, an excellent explanation of the english sense of humour, said all the things I was trying to think of when I read the article this morning, but couldn't.
posted by biffa at 11:48 AM on February 25, 2003


god, biffa, you're so english. yes, i read the article. thanks for taking the piss out of me, as it were.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 12:04 PM on February 25, 2003


I think the answer lies in the definition of popularity: In America, if five million people adore a show and think it's the funniest thing on earth, it's a flop and gets cancelled. Five million is a pretty good showing for Britain. It ought to be a good showing anywhere: how many of us wouldn't be stupefyingly glad to have five million fans? It's an almost unreachable dream for novelists and musicians, but television expects more.

Consequently we go for the lowest common denominator. Sophisticated humor is out of the question, because we don't have one single culture, recognizable to a large enough demographic that can be plumbed for the finer points of humor. So a popular show in America has to be one which is by definition unsubtle and unsophisticated.

In Britain, the cultural referents can run much deeper because, while it's far from being a monoculture, people are much better acquainted with the finer details of its various subcultures, even the ones not their own. At least to the point where you can exploit them for humor in a pretty sophisticated way and still make the ratings numbers.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:08 PM on February 25, 2003


i_am_joe's_spleen: Is it just me, or is there much more dark English humour than American?

After 2 years in California, I failed to observe a single instance of USians exhibiting (or understanding) dark humour. Most day-to-day humour in the US seems rather innocent, actually.
posted by signal at 12:16 PM on February 25, 2003


After 2 years in California, I failed to observe a single instance of USians exhibiting (or understanding) dark humour

move to the midwest. (it'll take about 20 years to get it, though.)
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 12:25 PM on February 25, 2003


Failing to understand humor and simply not finding humor are different entirely.

On the contrary -- if lots of people find something very, very funny and you simply find it stupid, you very likely don't understand it. My mother, who has had basically no exposure to pop culture, thinks the Simpsons is stupid. Most british guests on the Daily Show completely miss most of the jokes and end up feeling insulted. (I can actually remember the Spice Girls being interviewed and one of them saying, "They're laughing, but I don't see what's funny...Most british humor focuses on sarcasm and irony." That's the focus of the Daily Show, too, of course, but she didn't get it.)
posted by Tlogmer at 12:34 PM on February 25, 2003


eddie izzard=not funny

And with that, _sirmissalot_, you destroy your credibility. Izzard travels well, too: all that talk of jam and squirrels must do it.

That's the focus of the Daily Show, too, of course, but she didn't get it.

Well, that's more about the Spice Girls being thick. And actually, Ali G got his break on the British knock-off of the Daily Show.
posted by riviera at 12:41 PM on February 25, 2003


if lots of people find something very, very funny and you simply find it stupid, you very likely don't understand it.

If this is true, I guess I have to come clean and admit that it's not that Pauly Shore isn't funny, it's that I don't understand him. The same would apply to Howard Stern, the aforementioned Dice, and many others.

On the other hand, I've never thought The Young Ones was funny a-tall, and I'm willing to hazard that it's probably true I really don't understand that.
posted by deadcowdan at 1:31 PM on February 25, 2003


Oh yeah. That Benny Hill is as dry and cerebral as you can get.
posted by crunchland at 1:41 PM on February 25, 2003


Ali G won't go down as well in America simply because the character is British. It is funny to have your own culture ridiculed by one of your own kind, but when an outsider does it, it spells trouble. Human nature.
posted by dydecker at 2:12 PM on February 25, 2003


And with that, _sirmissalot_, you destroy your credibility. Izzard travels well, too: all that talk of jam and squirrels must do it.

yeah, i don't know why i don't like him--is he just fantastically wildly popular with everyone else? to be honest, i've only seen one stand up routine (on tape) and i guess i just thought it was boring. but he certainly does have a lot of admirers here in the states. what's with the jam and squirrels reference?
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 2:51 PM on February 25, 2003


Poor Mark Lawson. He wants to be an American so much.

Seinfeld in Britain was a victim of the scheduling - BBC2 didn't really know how to sell it. I think it's one of the best sit-coms ever, but they stripped it across the midnight slot, after the late news and the disability/arts/snooker slot.

American and British sitcoms seem to be about two different subjects - many American sitcoms seem to be about the things that pull groups together (the Hugging and Learning that Seinfeld explicitly rejected), British comedy is about the things that tear groups apart - especially class and politics. Even a series as cosy as The Good Life (I was amazed to discover on a recent repeat how good that show was) revolves around the class tension between the Goods and the Leadbetters before Tom even decides to give up designing plastic animals for farming in suburbia. The situation merely accentuates that.

If the key word for American sitcoms is "Love" ("I love you, Dad!" "I love you too, son") the key word for British sitcoms is desperation: characters fully aware of their debased status and their inability to do anything about it. It's there in Fawlty Towers, in Dad's Army, possibly even in the mad dreams of Foggy Dewhhurst. It's even there (in a very slight way) in Black Books and Father Ted

Father Ted is one of the funniest things ever, by the way. There is to be no argument about that.

There's also been the tendency towards comedy that isn't necessarily designed to be funny per se, but rather provide the viewer with frissons of other kinds - bits of Big Train, Attention Scum and, especially, [Blue] Jam fall into this category. The sketch in Jam, where the mother calls the plumber to fix her dead baby -
Robin Lomax: You want me to fix a baby?

Mrs. Cahill: Yes. The doctor won't do anything. I don't know why. He says he won't, not now anyway, he says.

Robin Lomax: What do you mean?

Mrs. Cahill: Well, he said he's dead, or something, but I know he can be mended, I'm sure he can, it's just tubes really, isn't it? I'm sure you could have a go.

Robin Lomax: Mrs. Cahill, I can't fix a baby, I'm just a plumber!

Mrs. Cahill: Yes, so you're good at mending!

Robin Lomax: What?

Mrs. Cahill: You fixed the taps last Winter, didn't you? You must be able to do something for him. You fixed the taps.

Robin Lomax: Well, yeah, I fixed the taps!

Mrs. Cahill: Well, that's it! They've never dripped since! You did a lovely job, I'm sure you can...I mean, what's more important, a baby or a tap?
(offered three thousand pounds in cash, he routes the central heating through the baby, so that it becomes warm and makes a gurgling noise) - is a case in point. In outline, it's straight out of Monty Python, though perhaps a bit more extreme. But Amelia Bullmore, who plays the mother, makes her genuine and genuinely, terrifyingly mad. Structurally it's comedy, but in essence it has more in common with David Lynch or Luis Bunuel.

I've lost my thread...

And exactly where 'Allo 'Allo fits into this, I don't know...

Oh, and Ali G is dreadful.
posted by Grangousier at 3:04 PM on February 25, 2003


As a yank, I think my biggest problem with Ali G. is that it's hard to understand what he's saying half the time. When I do understand what he's saying, however, I just about piss myself laughing.

I agree that, overall, most of the comedies you see on American TV are pretty lame. The King of Queens and it's ilk simply makes me want to stab myself repeatedly in the eye with a sharpened pencil. I think aside from Bernie Mac and the Jamie Kennedy Experiment, the funniest show on American TV is Buffy, which is probably one of the reasons it's done so well in the UK.
/BtVS plug

eddie izzard=not funny

Eddie Izzard not funny? I can kinda see that, I guess. He has a fast, stream-of consciousness odd-ball style that I can see him leaving a lot of folks cold. I think he's hilarious and his make-up is impeccable.
posted by echolalia67 at 3:32 PM on February 25, 2003


A friend of mine recently got a job in europe. He even has a television. He told me about a show he watched -- something along the lines of "England's Funniest Home Videos." He said that all of the clips basically involved people doing normal things, but doing them naked.

They must be funnier than us.
posted by crunchland at 3:36 PM on February 25, 2003


So where does something like Coupling, a rather thinly-veiled copy of Friends, fall? As an american, I'd rather have a root canal than watch Friends, but I quite enjoy Coupling, though I've always enjoyed British humor more than a lot of folks I know.

I'd be curious to hear from any Brits familiar with both shows.
posted by jalexei at 3:41 PM on February 25, 2003


sirmissalot - I think Australians have got the best of both worlds. Someone mentioned that Americans often don't understand jokes when they are dropped into ordinary conversations; Australians do, and in fact, take "taking the piss" to a much more excessive level than the Brits. I think we appreciate both British and American humour. I love Seinfeld and Faulty Towers, The Simpsons and Ali G.

In regards to the high number of people here (presumably mostly Americans) who don't find Ali G funny, I think it may be because yours is the culture he is co-opting. In Australia and Britian, our streets are filled with kids trying to be gangstas from south central. We laugh at Ali G because he takes the piss out of that culture.
posted by Jimbob at 3:50 PM on February 25, 2003


our streets are filled with kids trying to be gangstas from south central
Go hang in suburbia anywhere in America for five minutes.

I find Ali G funny, but not hilarious. I hate dumb sitcoms, but I find the King of Queens quite hilarious - ditto for Are You Being Served and Mr. Bean. My biggest problem with British comedies is figuring out what the hell they're saying (which is why I always missed half of Keeping Up Appearances, but found Red Dwarf quite watchable). I did see Ruby Wax's show and it was the sort of celebrity hiney-kissing that turns off so many in that Byron Allen sort of way and had nothing to do with the flyover states.
posted by owillis at 4:14 PM on February 25, 2003


So where does something like Coupling, a rather thinly-veiled copy of Friends, fall?

I'm not really a fan of Coupling, but it has the desparation and frustration that Grangousier talked about. In its best moments, it makes for uneasy viewing of people doing relationships badly, and without the easy 23-minute resolution of a Friends episode. (No-one's mentioned Alan Partridge yet, have they? I couldn't ever imagine an American version of that working.)

That reminds me that Frasier was a very British comedy until the Daphne-Niles relationship was consummated and sauté le requin: completely built on false expectations, frustration and with a bit of class war thrown in for good measure.

And even the more gentle and genteel comedies -- say, Keeping Up Appearances and Last of the Summer Wine, both written by Roy Clarke -- explore the same spiky tensions: the triumph of hope over expectation, the failure of class mobility, the collapse of ambition, and all those lovely funny things. I can't imagine a British writer doing Will and Grace any more than an American writer could do Gimme Gimme Gimme.

One oft-noted difference is that American comedies are very much written in committee, which makes episodes sparkly and polished and gags-a-plenty, whereas British and Irish comedies are generally done by one- and two-person teams, which can make the journey more uneven (I'm thinking of The Book Group now on C4) but also more coherent in the long-term. First-season Friends has nothing really in common as a narrative with the current shows.

This is sit-com, of course. Look at sketch-com, and it's different again: 'Blue Jam', Smack the Pony, League of Gentlemen, The Fast Show. So all generalisations are stupid. Including that one.
posted by riviera at 5:21 PM on February 25, 2003


My observation of one of the main differing points between the genres is the method of delivery, along with the joke itself. Most US comedies tend to be a whole mess of one-liners strung together for 22 minutes. Most of the jokes could go just as well individually at the water cooler during breaktime. Meanwhile, a lot of the brit stuff will have some seemingly inconsequential action in the beginning, and will build on that, sometimes in a stealthy manner, until you get to the end and the whole thing comes together. It's one long 28 minute joke, with a lot of smaller ones intertwined. That's one of the reasons I generally prefer the brit over US stuff. It's sort of like the difference between La Traviata and a boy band album. The former is one great work, the latter a loosely defined collection of small works with varying levels of quality.
posted by ehintz at 5:27 PM on February 25, 2003


... nobody mentions ab fab?
posted by taz at 10:23 PM on February 25, 2003


i don't really understand the difference between the uk ad the us. is there really one? the us gave us cheers, frazier, northern exposure, soap (remember that?) and so on.

but if i was going to tell a joke to a swiss, i'd bring along a blackboard
posted by quarsan at 12:27 AM on February 26, 2003


Oh yeah. That Benny Hill is as dry and cerebral as you can get.

Please, please, please don't tar us with the Benny Hill brush - he couldn't get a TV gig in Britain past the seventies.

Everything seemed to change in the early 80s when the 'alternative' comedians shoved all the sitcoms based on sexual repression off the air. Now the alternative is the mainstream. A lot of people of my generation still have a nostalgic appreciation for Are You Being Served and the Carry On films. But not Benny Hill. What's the difference? I'm not sure. Campness I think. And a self-aware naffness. The descendents of Benny Hill are people like Roy Chubby Brown and Jethro. They're very popular live but can't get a gig on TV. That's the triumph of the alternative comedians I think.
posted by Summer at 2:41 AM on February 26, 2003


I think it's important to remember that most sitcoms - American and British - are utter rubbish. Thinking that "Are You Being Served" or Benny Hill represents British humour is as abserd as thinking "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" represents American humour.

We are different in how we find our laughs, and others have summed it up well. British humour is almost always at it's best when it's about flawed characters trying to cope. The relationship between Steptoe and his son is exactly the same as that between Del and Rodney, Ted and Dougal, Basil and Sibyl, Rimmer and Lister, Vivian and Rick, or a whole host of others.

riviera's comment about "Frasier" being a very British comedy was very perceptive. I'd never thought of it that way before, but he's right. It was great because it combined the gags of the best American comedies with the British situation. I stopped watching when Daphne and Niles got together. I knew that would be the moment when "Frasier" jumped the shark. I was right.
posted by salmacis at 3:22 AM on February 26, 2003


riviera's comment about "Frasier" being a very British comedy was very perceptive.

I always thought Frasier was like a West End farce. There's actually an episode when Niles loses his trousers and has to hide from people.
posted by Summer at 3:26 AM on February 26, 2003


riviera's comment about "Frasier" being a very British comedy was very perceptive
Absolutely. Frasier has been the only US sitcom of which I have watched more than one or two episodes and enjoyed. I'd never really analysed why, but this discussion has shed light on that.

And actually, Ali G got his break on the British knock-off of the Daily Show.
Called the 11 o'clock Show, which many people tuned in to see solely because of Ali G and which Ali G outgrew very quickly, the second season of the 11 o'clock Show bombed and faded into obscurity.

Ali G appeals to Brits because of his irreverence, he 'takes the piss' out of people in a position of authority and in such a way as to make them unaware of it. Taken at face value Ali G is purile and childish, but he managed to scratch below the media-managed surface of many celebrities and public figures before their agents caught on to the joke.
This unfortunately led to the 'Chris Morris effect' where only the most publicity hungry 'celebrities' would agree to be on his show, and consequently the joke became less funny.
posted by Markb at 7:46 AM on February 26, 2003


vraoxin: I only type 'USians' cuz I'm too busy/lazy to type out 'Unitedstatesians' in full...apologies for any offense.
posted by i_cola at 9:24 AM on February 26, 2003


I always thought Frasier was like a West End farce.

Oh, that too, though it's more like Noël Coward than Brian Rix: I once read somewhere that Frasier was gay comedy done straight, and Friends was straight comedy done gay. Or the other way around. But there's definitely a high camp in Frasier.
posted by riviera at 11:01 AM on February 26, 2003


I'm suprised that no-one's mentioned the office yet.

I didn't really get Seinfeld until moving to the states.

My only real beef with american tv comedy, is the inevitable pause for applause after each punchline, followed by a re-iteration of the joke in a simplified manner, or a direct commentary on the joke, as if the joke itself wasn't funny enough on its own.

posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:31 PM on February 26, 2003


Australia is, as previous comments indicate, an interesting test case. We get both American and English television comedy in more or less equal amounts, and have our own comedy. The national public TV station mostly runs English comedy, the commercial channels American comedy.

As a result, there is a tendency for 'cultured' people to look down on American comedy (there's a lot of crap out there). But this can be plain snobbery. It's true that a lot of English comedy contians themes and characters that Australians can identify with more, and you don't get as many laugh tracks.

It can be strange when talking to Americans in conversation, because you'll make a comment that's maybe ironic or whatever, and then they'll say: that was funny, to let you know that they know you made a joke. But that's not what Australians do. In some situations, even laughing when people say something funny is inappropriate (it interrupts the conversation).

It's hard for forgive a nation for producing Full House. But then it's hard to forgive a nation for producing some of the crap that comes out of England. And Australian populist humour can be even worse, being sad imitations of US shows or English shows (and hoping to be picked up internationally, where all the money is).

The Simpsons and Seinfeld were (are) both huge here. To claim that Americans are incapable of producing dry, sophisticated and ironic humour is to have never seen Larry Sanders. And then there's a show like Spongebob Squarepants, which has to be uniquely American and is pure genius.

What seems sad though, is that English comedy is considered difficult in the US. I realise that, like Australian comedy, it often deals with parochial subject matter.

Hell, reviewers suck anyway. I don't think Ali G has been as badly reviewed in the US as Tom Green was in Australia. But maybe that's not a valid comparison...
posted by chrisgregory at 1:00 AM on February 27, 2003


i think its an error to label comedy by its nationality,
especially after what migs said !
hmm the irish are the funniest people in history,

exhibit a : oscar wilde.

surrender migs! : )

is it any wonder we have a chip on our shoulders when they scheduled both seinfeld and the larry sanders show to run back to back at some godforsaken hour on bbc2?
The man who did that should be put in the dock at the hague as far as im concerned.Both shows were easily better than either frasier or friends.

granted, a lot of scots humour is piss poor, most actors here are trapped in a music hall tradition that has infected us thru the ages via glasgow.
theres also a serious amount of people that steal tony hancocks timing, i never found hancock funny, but theres a chap with a chip on his shoulder of course.
absolutely was a real good show along with rab.c.nesbitt which is genius.
billy connolly seems to amuse a lot of folk but my favorite scots comedian is chic murray : "I had a tragic childhood. My parents never understood me. They were Japanese. "
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:36 PM on March 1, 2003


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