BritComs : British humor

British humor

I frequently hear this term used. I love the British humor of this show or he/she has very British humor. This seems to be a broad and vague term. How would you define British humor?

Re: British humor


I am in the middle of a British sitcom marathon these past few weeks and yet I don't really have an answer to this question.
Curios to know what others have to say.

uh, what do I know ?!?

Re: British humor

Mainly I suppose down to irony and finding humour in misfortune, which Americans generally don't like.

My belief is that American social culture is centred around positivity, winning and politeness to others.

Us Brits are distrustful of positivity and politeness, and hate winning as we can't moan about it.

I find it strange that Americans generally don't "get" irony (although Fraser is an exception), but like the fact that their mindset seems to be based more towards positivity.

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Yeah I agree with this, people in British comedies are always a little bit rubbish, but it all turns out ok in the end! American comedies seem to be much more upbeat, which gets annoying after a while in my opinion.

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Bump -

We are incredibly self-deprecating, sarcastic and alternative* too.

I dont think *The Mighty Boosh would ever had been made were the stars not British.

Also, were just a little bit silly.

im a very proud Brit:)

Do the *beep* snow angel, dude. Do the *beep* snow angel!!

Re: British humor

It's normally very dry and witty, like previous poster said looking at the crap side of life and making fun of it. Or satirical sometimes, look at AbFab if course people aren't really like that but we poke fun at them and say they might as well be like that

Re: British humor

"How about 'puerile'?"

How about you dunk your head in a bucket of water?

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"You obviously have NEVER watched Benny Hill"

Actually I have and he was pretty funny in a seaside postcard kind of way (not sure you understand this cultural reference), although personally I preferred Dave Allen and Dick Emery and Les Dawson.

As stated by other posters you can't use one example to try and categorise a whole genre of comedy, otherwise I could say that Paulie Shore, Bobcat Goldthwaite and Rob Schneider are all the cream of US comedy!

I would be omitting The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Lucy Show, Taxi, Fraser, Friends, and hundreds if not thousands of other really funny shows.

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That's interesting as I can see now that he wasn't just a bit part player, as he was manager, producer etc. etc. - more talented than I thought!

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British humour tends to be more wordy. you soon realise this watching flying circus how they seem to babble on considerably, while the audience laughs every few seconds and you're sitting their wondering what the hell is so funny...

that said, it's better than USA humor which is someone yells at someone else. (eg Everyone Loathes Raymond, every episode.)

of course, slapstick is more universal, but comedians don't seem to get that.

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Dry, witty and not afraid to poke fun at ourselves as a nation, or the individual characters at themselves.

Re: British humor

To be honest, I wouldnt have much to add to what's already been said: that British humour is "more wordy" (than American humour), dry, witty, satirical, "looking at the crap side of life and making fun of it". Yeah, I'd agree with that, only to elaborate on the "more wordy" - I'd say, in comparison, American humour relies a lot more on visual cues. So, say for example a funny line delivered in FRIENDS would be accompanied by exaggerated gestures, whereas on a British comedy like BLACK BOOKS you'd get a majority of the funny lines delivered dead-pan, more like a funny person in real life, which might contribute to why British sitcom humour is rated a bit higher than American sitcom humour. Perhaps because its less mannered and seems closer to our real life experience of humour.

British TV comedies also excel at the complete other end of the spectrum as well: the completely surreal/absurd type of comedies that require complete OTT stories or acting. American weird (eg CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM) and zany (SOUTH PARK, FAMILY GUY) pales in comparison to British surreal comedies like LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN or THE MIGHTY BOOSH. This might be because British tv execs dont pander to the lowest possible denominator, making their programs push the boundaries a bit more. America has loads of funny shows (such as MAD TV, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, THE DAILY SHOW, etc) but its not often that British tv imports ideas from American comedies, its usually the other way round (as with THE OFFICE, VEEP, etc).

You probably meant British humour in everyday life context, not tv context. Sorry to have rambled on and on even though I realised this, simply because it was fun to compare the different types of humour in the two tv cultures!

I'll just post this and then run and hide...

Re: British humor

In addition to what others have said, I'd also add that American shows tend to over-explain their jokes/humour, as though the viewers are all stupid. The British tend to make their humour a little more subtle.

Before anyone says anything, I'm an Australian so I like to think my opinion is un-biassed.

Re: British humor

Totally unrelated to this thread, but as you say you are Australian - summat I've always wanted to know:-

How do you view Australians that make it big in the UK and then decide to live here permanently?

EG Barry Humphries, Rolf Harris, Kylie Minogue, Tim Minchin, Bee-Gees etc. etc.

(I think I've got that right, and there are probably others?)

Are there any that have made it big over here and then gone back to Australia, STILL a big star?

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Bee Gees were British mate - originally anyway.

I'm British and greatly enjoyed visiting Australia in 2007.

Thought it might be funny to see Rolf Harris at Sydney Opera House.

Not impressed to hear him Brit bashing to his re-acquainted Aussie audience - not a fan anymore.

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I'm an australian too and I can't really see how you can consider yourself unbiased. The aussie sense of humor pretty much mirrors the brittish sense to a tea (if you can excuse the pun lol).
We're more laid back, happy to laugh at ourselves, use farce and absurdity liberally, use subtlety in large doses and have a much looser application of censorship allowing for a freer range of un-pc topics.

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I liked the "Paul Hogan Show" (?) when it was shown in the UK a few years back (pre Crocodile Dundee I think) - the little fella who always wore the life-savers cap (?) was funny.

Re: British humor

I'd basically support what everyone else says - it's more wordy, dryer, and people are more able to laugh at themselves. In most American sitcoms I've seen, people are able to laugh at things happening to others (who deserve it) or things caused by external forces, not at their own failings. Characters tend to be more successful and conventionally likeable in the U.S, whereas in Britain we love a loser. Episodes and series usually have upbeat endings in America - the protagonists come out on top in the end, even if it's just in an 'oh well, we still all love each other and friendship/family is the most important thing' kind of way. In Britain it's just as likely to be 'Well, that was sh*t, I'm all alone and my life is going to hell but at least I can laugh at it'.

However, a lot of British people have a bit of a warped view of American sitcoms. We're mainly exposed to a handful of the most commercially successful ones - Friends, The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother etc. Things like Community and Arrested Development, which would really appeal to the British sense of humour, have either never been shown or are hidden away on an obscure channel late at night.

You know what they call alternative medicine that's been proved to work? Medicine.

Re: British humor

I define it as "funny"