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Forum Home / General Discussion / British Humour v. American Humor


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Monkey Woods
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Posted: 29 Oct 18 06:44 - Edited By: Monkey Woods, 29 Oct 18 06:45
Saw this on YouTube.

Stephen Fry

Hope you can see it.

Or hear it, at least...

To have ambitions, was my ambition
victor nicholas
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Posted: 30 Oct 18 22:43
Thanks for sharing, this is great!

"Vottznewpuzzykatt?"
Dave Henry
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Posted: 31 Oct 18 12:16 - Edited By: Dave Henry, 31 Oct 18 12:26
He makes a point with a 40 year old reference of a movie that many people, certainly those not of that era, don't even find that funny anymore -- Belushi and Animal House. I watch those old SNL episodes and barely crack a smile. I am of that era and I never found Belushi that funny, but I know a lot of people do. Comedy tastes change, certainly over the course of 40 years. I play that for my kids and they're like, is that supposed to be funny?

Fry probably needs to update his frame of reference a bit. Shows like Seinfeld, Louis, Curb, Sunny, Veep, Family Guy, etc prove that.

But if you want to take someone from that era, take George Carlin. Probably the least optimistic comedian who ever walked the earth -- and one of the funniest.

And the self-help thing, well, we think that's funny too. Stuff like that is an great source for comedy. You just have to live here to know that there is such a vast and deep source of comedy from all the crazy shit that goes on here on a daily basis. Just read the Spoof for examples! When everybody is cool and everybody gets it, where's the source of comedy in that? Just my two cents.

Monkey Woods
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Posted: 1 Nov 18 04:25
What I got from the clip, Dave, was that he described a lot of British humour, and British comedians, perfectly. I obviously only see the American scene on my TV, or what I happen to stumble across on the internet, but I found his analysis was fairly close to what I have experienced.

We Brits don't mind not only poking fun at ourselves, but ramming it down our own throats. Like charity, comedy begins at home, you might say; if we're going to humiliate anyone with humour, it might as well be ourselves.

I don't see that in American humour, but maybe I'm not looking hard enough.



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Dave Henry
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Posted: 1 Nov 18 10:50
He could be right in some cases. It makes for interesting discussion. A thread I see in American comedy is that of the outsider, Keaton, 3 stooges, Marx brothers, woody Allen, Seinfeld, sunny but it’s a pretty vast and rich history , as it is with British humor. Animal house just seemed an odd example for him to give is all. But Thanks for sharing it! Good topic!

Monkey Woods
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Posted: 1 Nov 18 12:00
I agree about Animal House - an odd choice to illustrate his point. I'd almost forgotten it! I would have thought he could have come up with something a bit more current, but he also used relatively old British examples, as well. I don't know how old the clip is, but it looks recent.

Fry, himself, is unlike most - if not all - British funnymen, and more like the Americans he described, in my opinion. I think he sees himself as Wilde: speech, dress, and so on. When I used to watch Q.I., I used to think (imagine?) he didn't quite know what to do with American or Canadian guests, and smiled a bit too much, obviously thinking they wanted that kind of reaction, whereas the Brit comic, having made his funny line, might have expected a chiding glance from Fry, and a quick-witted riposte.

I wonder what Erskin thinks...


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Erskin Quint
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Posted: 4 Nov 18 14:23
Not sure about generalisations like "American Humour". What is American Humour? What were the "Native Americans" laughing at before all those non-Americans took over their country (not that there was anything that was really "their country")?

Anyway, Stephen Fry was put on the spot with the question of British v American humour and tried to come up with something entertaining.

I don't think his statement was particularly edifying but it was entertaining. Seemed to be saying that British comedians are the underdogs and the US ones are wise-cracking winners and that US humour is based on the idea that everything is fixable.

I don't think that's right. Did W C Fields or the Marx Bros function in that way? Both thrived on absurdity and chaos in my view. I think there's absurdity and darkness to be found in both cultures.

Yes there is this thing of American optimism, the fact that the USA is a recent nation and recently grown and being positive, etc. So much about it is recently purpose-built, eg the towns and roads, whereas in older cultures it's grown organically over centuries. Probably true. But I don't like the idea that this then defines the humour. Yes humour can be derived from or relate to a culture. But it can also be about the universal facts of our "existence".

OK maybe we are talking about the popular stuff, where perhaps it's more defined because it has to work for markets.

Then you can see the difference. Like with remakes of comedy series or movies where it's been done not so much for creative reasons as for business purposes. Obvious functionality.

If there is a difference, then, in America it's more consciously contrived and functional, and more quirky and off the cuff in Britain.

Remember, though, that everything Frankie Howerd did was scripted.

Yes there's lots about the cultures and the difference of the cultures, but I like to think humourists and comedians are outside of all that, looking on and doing things with it, reacting to it, making people laugh at it and question it.

So for me humour is a way of gaining freedom from all the "culture" and relief from it - an essential safety valve.

Culture is all just imaginary anyway. None of it is real.

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Dave Henry
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Posted: 6 Nov 18 12:05
You make some great points and observations. Freedom from the culture and reacting to the culture is really what it’s about. That’s what this place is about in many ways. Thanks.

victor nicholas
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Posted: 10 Nov 18 00:14
The difference between British humour and American humor is u.

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Erskin Quint
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Posted: 10 Nov 18 13:08

Quote: victor nicholas

The difference between British humour and American humor is u.


Nice one Victor!

SERIOUS ABOUT DRIVEL
rfreed
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Posted: 7 Dec 18 23:44
British humour?
Is there such a thing?
They can't even spell 'humor' write.......

Oops, time to leave!

Quickly!

Buy 'The Alaska Papers' from lulu.com. Only $10 !!!!! An almost funny publication!
JinoLeFeeto
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Posted: 16 Dec 18 04:27
Some one you haven't mentioned is Mel Brooks, who while I don't like all of his movies, struck gold with important films like Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. Blazing Saddles was a spoof of American Westerns, and took on racial stereotypes and poked fun at nearly every western cowboy stereotype ever created by Hollywood and then takes on Hollywood studios at the end when the final scenes dissolve into Studio brawl in the studio cafeteria. Richard Pryor helped to write the script and the dialogue liberally played with the "n" word. This was the early 1970's and dealing as directly with race in a movie as this one did was very controversial. Netflix currently has it.

"Its not that I can't help these people it's just that...I don't want to" Tom Hanks - Volunteers
twatface
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Posted: 19 Dec 18 05:36
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Posted: 21 Dec 18 10:18
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Danny Williams
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Posted: 24 Dec 18 11:35 - Edited By: Danny Williams, 24 Dec 18 15:53
It does seem that The Spoof is primarily a British site. Am I wrong about that? I confess I was unaware of that back in 2012 when I contributed, but after pondering the lack of feedback I've received, it dawned on me that this might be the reason why. I believed at the time that mimicking the style of articles regularly found in The Onion would be my best approach. Of course, The Onion is as American as satire gets, and I wonder now if that was my big mistake. It wouldn't have helped at all that the humor in one of my articles would be practically incomprehensible to anyone unfamiliar with the classic American novel, "Of Mice and Men."

I doubt I could pull as much off from a British point of view, frankly.

Maybe someone would help me acclimate to British news satire by recommending a few classics. The Onion, for instance, has it's classics, such as "Holy Shit! Man Walks On Fucking Moon," and, "Archaeological Dig Uncovers Ancient Race Of Skeleton People," which are great examples of what we Americans find funny in news satire.

Outside of Swift, I have yet to have my funny bone more than a little jostled by British news satire -- a failing I will attribute to cultural ignorance on my part. From my own research, there seems to be a consensus among critics that no one is better at political satire than the Brits, and so I really do feel as though I may be "missing" something.

- Was it as good for you as it was for me? If so, I apologize.
Jaggedone
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Posted: 25 Dec 18 10:57
As long as our US friends keep churning out political BS with Trump as their main target, this place will remain a US ghost town! There's more to life than the US border and Trump's insanity...

Nutters United...
Monkey Woods
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Posted: 25 Dec 18 12:11
...or anyone's insanity, if you know what I mean.

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Jaggedone
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Posted: 31 Dec 18 12:24 - Edited By: Jaggedone, 1 Jan 19 11:52
MW, my apologies for this personal attack


...or anyone's insanity, if you know what I mean.


Nutters United...
Monkey Woods
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Posted: 31 Dec 18 13:15
I'm sorry you feel that way.

I don't feel the same way about you. I know nothing about you, other than things that you say about yourself on here. These are that you are mad, a nutter, and so on. Other than that, I don't know enough about you to make any kind of assessment.

I know, though, from the message you sent me, that you are angry about having one of your stories rejected. It was rejected because of the format it appeared in: a back-and-forth conversation between you and a CEO. That's not the format that Mark wants the news stories to be in.

If the truth be known, I could have redirected it to the Magazine. If you would like me to do that, just let me know, and I'll sort it.



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SpaceElevator
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Posted: 31 Dec 18 18:36
What passes for funny in the U.S. may vary depending on people, language, and cultural background.. for example, a joke in the Midwest will not be perceived quite the same as in the East or the West or the South.
-- An interesting graphic on the hypothetical 11 different nations of the U.S. can be found here: https://www.businessinsider.com/the-11-nations-of-the-united-states-2015-7
-- An interesting graphic on dialects and accents is here:
http://www.muturzikin.com/cartesusa/usa.htm

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victor nicholas
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Posted: 1 Jan 19 00:59
SE

Great info

"Vottznewpuzzykatt?"
Jaggedone
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Posted: 1 Jan 19 11:49
Dear MW, I accept your apology and am sorry for my outrage. However, I am sick and tired of you and Mark's pedantic editing and rather sad messages. You and Mark are on a 'Hexenjagd' and TBH, the target this time is me!

I have written many spoofs in the past with the same format, never a problem, now, all of a sudden they're not suitable?? Bullshit! When I read many other spoofs here, they are neither funny, copies of new stories (like your one), and especially the US participators, rather crappy. Strange that they get published here, maybe you and Mark love Trump too much??

If this is the standard you and Mark desire, this place is DEAD!

I really do not wish to waste my time participating here if they are your SAD future editorial demands..I have better things to do.

RE my insanity, judge for yourself?? Or do you not have one ounce of insanity in you? The world is MAD, I am certainly not. Hence the reason why I portrait myself as being MAD, capiche?? Well I guess you would not....

Once again I will remove my insult and apologise, but if you guys do not decide what this place is supposed to be and continue being pedantic literary pratts, then I am finished, just like the others who deserted this place...JO

Nutters United...
ameliastone
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Posted: 3 Jan 19 23:06
English humour frequently is based on class differences. It's less so now but within the beyond the distinction between the rigid class shape of the UK became a source of tons comedy, specially for the ones inside the Middle Class. America manifestly has a social strata however it is no longer so genuinely defined as in the UK and the running class are not glorified as tons as in the UK, in which people romanticise the standard glory of guide labour.

Harry Klondike
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Posted: 1 Feb 19 16:13
I'm American and I think that the Brits are better with dark aka (black) comedy and satire. I think you guys call it gallows humor?

If boredom were lethal, I'd surely be dead by now.

 
Any opinions expressed here are purely the opinions of the contributors and are not necessarily the opinions of The Spoof, its staff or the original writer of the spoof news/parody/satire story.

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