What is British humour?
From irony and biting sarcasm to the downright cringey, British humour is something of a phenomena. Our tended awkwardness, embarrassing encounters and self-deprecation, means we are not afraid to laugh at ourselves or take ourselves too seriously!
One of the ways it is clear British humour is, well British humour, is through the comparison between British and American sitcoms. From Blackadder, Peep Show and Gavin and Stacey, the list of classic British sitcoms are endless. Where, American sitcoms consist of Friends and Frasier, these are also great shows, yet there is a distinct difference between the type of comedy ‘peeping’ through!
Take, The Inbetweeners for example, this series has been sensational among British teenagers and adults alike, so popular in fact that two successful movies were derived from it. However, when American TV attempted to make an adaption of it, it just did not work. Why? Because The Inbetweeners is a prime example of Brits not taking themselves too seriously! The group of teenage boys encounter countless cringe-worthy moments, enough to make you cover your eyes in shame. The language in the show is also noteworthy. Words such as ‘bumder’ and phrases like ‘ooooh friends’, have now become part of our everyday vocabulary and it becomes near impossible to explain them to people who are not familiar with British shows. The American adaption just didn’t get it, the language was not filthy enough and the characters were not relatable enough. After only one season on The Inbetweeners (US) the show was cancelled, but we all saw that coming didn’t we?
One of the biggest exceptions to this being The Office. The UK Office has regarded as one of the greatest British sitcoms of all time. The complete hilarious yet cringe-inducing and dark undertones to the famous sitcom, is something that the British audience love. The US adaption of The Office also become hugely popular and even named the second best TV series of 2006 by Time’s James Poniewozik. Here, Ricky Gervais explains why the concept of The Office was loved by both British and American viewers;
“We had to make Michael Scott a slightly nicer guy, with a rosier outlook to life. He could still be childish, and insecure, and even a bore, but he couldn’t be too mean. The irony is of course that I think David Brent’s dark descension and eventual redemption made him all the more compelling.”
Gervais highlights the fundamental difference between British and American humour. Michael Scott, while dopey at times, is the character you are still sympathetic with and even love to watch. Whereas David Brent’s character is more egotistical and insensitive; having the ability to physically make you wince at your tv screen. Yet this is actually what British viewers love to watch! We love to root for the character who is unlikable because they are real and, in some ways, relatable.
British humour is the type of comedy we wouldn’t have any other way.
CHUCKLE TUESDAY CHOICE
Our #ChuckleTuesday choice this week is… This compilation of cute and clumsy penguins falling over! Happy National Penguin Day everybody!