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Are American comedies popular with British people?
Skullbie at 3:28PM, Dec. 29, 2008
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I'm American and I tend to find British humor in films to be face-palm worthy unfunny. Very dry-hoping ‘situational irony’ will make it humorous, I've talked to others about this and it seems I'm not the only one.(seen forum discussions confirming it too)

So this got me thinking; Do British people find American humor/films to be unfunny as well? Or is it just America being accustomed to punchlines and perv humor?


(I'm not really looking for a regional vs.American humor thing, since I've seen many chinese films that have had me cracking up uncontrollably and even bollywood films that have their moments)
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:46PM
Custard Trout at 4:15PM, Dec. 29, 2008
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It doesn't matter what country it's from, crap is universal. I hate most British comedy, because how a lot of them usually rely on ‘situational irony’, like you said, but the Two Ronnies mostly used clever wordplay and it was great. Also, American comedy doesn't have enough suffering. Compare Friends and Fawlty Towers (American and British respectively), Friends consists of good looking, well off people engaging in wacky hijacks and occasional light hearted jabs at each other, but everything worked out in the end. Fawlty Towers, on the other hand, consisted of Basil Fawlty being essentially tortured every waking moment of his life and ended usually with him wishing he were dead, but it's ok to laugh because he deserves it every second of it.

Then there's Alan Partridge, which fails on certain levels because while he was slimy and a bit sexist, the shit he goes through every day seems out of proportion and it's just depressing, especially since it's more relistic and you're watching the poor bastards entire life fall to pieces around him. The bit where those farmers dropped a cow on him was fucking funny, though.

I hate most American comedy because they're written by committee, and they try to cram as many jokes in as they can. But Fraser, which concentrated on the story and let the humour write itself from the neurotic losers who made up the cast, is hilarious. Same with most of the British classics like Blackadder and Red Dwarf.

So to answer your question: your question is stupid.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 12:01PM
Skullbie at 4:35PM, Dec. 29, 2008
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Custard Trout
The question was more ‘Do American comedies do well with with British people’ rather then ‘will you go into a wall of text jumble about why they both suck horribly and why you’re depressed all year long and enjoy suffering to feel better about yourself', but thanks anyhow
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:46PM
Custard Trout at 4:45PM, Dec. 29, 2008
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Skullbie
do American comedies do well with with British people, wall of text jumble, depressed all year long and enjoy suffering to feel better about yourself

Oh. In that case: no, they don't. Sorry, this is why I don't write long posts usually. You've just described every British person.

P.S. ‘Wall of text jumble’ would be a great name for a book.
Hey buddy, you should be a Russian Cosmonaut, and here's why.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:01PM
BffSatan at 7:26PM, Dec. 29, 2008
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Britain has a lot of good comedies, but they haven't made any for a while, I love black adder, fawlty towers, a little bit of fry and laurie, the young ones, etc. But I also like American comedies, my favourite comedies are scrubs and 30 rock. I see both America and Britain producing hilarious shows and I don't see either as being better then the other.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:20AM
Product Placement at 8:10PM, Dec. 29, 2008
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I always felt like American humor emphasized on being outrageous while British humour emphasized on subtlety. There are of course numerous exceptions but in the long run that was the impression I got.

But the short answer to the question is “yes with an if” and “no with a but” Both sides end up producing little bit of good quality funny stuff that appeals to most people with a huge side of crap that some specific target group will still find hilarious.

I'm kind of a omnivore when it comes to this type of stuff. I have no idea why but I almost always find all of it funny. I laugh at Frazier(in a sophisticated kind of way), Friends, Monty Python and Top Gear but then I also laugh at stuff like Beavis and Butthead, Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Yu-Gi-Oh the abridged series. I know it's sad really.

I never found The Office to be funny for some reason. Although I never saw the British version.

Custard Trout
Skullbie
do American comedies do well with with British people, wall of text jumble, depressed all year long and enjoy suffering to feel better about yourself
You've just described every British person.

Sadly it's true. I lived in London long enough to find that one out.
Those were my two cents.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:50PM
Senshuu at 10:02PM, Dec. 29, 2008
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I always wondered this as well.

(The British probably take what they can get. Their skies are grey all the time. ALL THE TIME)
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:27PM
ozoneocean at 11:46PM, Dec. 29, 2008
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I'll move this to the media section…

I listen to a lot of interviews with British comedians on BBC4 and BBC7. It seems that a lot of British people LOVE American comedies these days and don't like their own so much now. Personally, I'd say that has more to do with the amount of U.S. cultural imports over the years; the Poms have just become used to U.S. humour.

American humour isn't as subtle. I'm not being mean when I say that, it's just usually a lot more obvious, broad… Britain has it's share of obvious stuff too and the U.S. has some quality subtle comedy, but the rule is: American comedy-obvious humour, British comedy-subtle humour.

Friends is a good example of obvious humour. Lots of obvious jokes by obvious characters, packed together. Frasier is the same, except they try and make it sound smarter. While cleverer shows like The Simpsons always had some real subtlety laced in amongst the more obvious content.
And as for pervy… British humour makes U.S. humour look like the New Testament. British humour has more sex, U.S. humour has more violence.
———————–

With any humour though, especially when it's more subtle, it takes a while to acclimatise to it in order to really get into it and get it. So the humour just takes getting used to in order to enjoy it.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:33PM
mlai at 1:43AM, Dec. 30, 2008
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Mr. Bean and Benny Hill is subtle?

FIGHT current chapter: Filling In The Gaps
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:06PM
ozoneocean at 4:41AM, Dec. 30, 2008
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mlai
Mr. Bean and Benny Hill is subtle?
lol! You have to try reading all the way through ;)
Britain has it's share of obvious stuff too
And as for pervy… British humour makes U.S. humour look like the New Testament.
Though Mr Bean and Benny Hill have a great deal of subtly as well as obviousness. Both are pretty sly, if you can catch it.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:33PM
Ironscarf at 6:21AM, Dec. 30, 2008
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Senshuu
The British probably take what they can get. Their skies are grey all the time. ALL THE TIME

I'm looking out the window at a beautiful blue British sky right now and what's more, I'm doing so ironically.


Mlai
Mr. Bean and Benny Hill is subtle?

That crud is for export. We watch Q.I.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:02PM
Senshuu at 2:25PM, Dec. 30, 2008
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Almost every British show and piece of media I've watched, the sky was a nice shade of grey, even on the brightest of days. It's weeeird.

I think British humor is to me like British food would be. Evidently there's not as much salt/sugar, almost guaranteeing that I wouldn't like it. Damn my American addiction to excess. :(
Their humor can be dryer/subtler while being more successful. I tend to like subtler humor more, although certain kinds of outrageous humor have hooked me lately (and not the British kind of outrageous, though I'm sure that's just because of the culture difference).
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:27PM
Hawk at 2:48PM, Dec. 30, 2008
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This was a good question. At a time when I keep seeing more and more TV comedy in America come from concepts from places like the UK and Australia, I have been wondering if it ever goes the other way.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:46PM
kingofsnake at 3:10PM, Dec. 30, 2008
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ozoneocean
American comedy-obvious humour, British comedy-subtle humour.

I kinda feel that the opposite of this is true. The really good American stuff is subtle and the really good British stuff is more broad. Blackadder (one of my favorite British comedies) wasn't subtle, you had the cynical unlucky guy, and surrounded him with idiots. Home Movies (one of my favorite American comedies) is entirely subtle and all the best moments come from the characters trying to discuss normalcy and the the natural sounding dialogue (and Jon Benjamin.)

I think the majority of mediocre American comedy is too broad, and the majority of mediocre British comedy is too subtle.

When someone asks if Brits like American comedy, nobody's talking about According to Jim
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:16PM
skoolmunkee at 5:21AM, Dec. 31, 2008
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I don't get most British comedy shows (too many cultural references etc. that I just don't understand) but I think some of their quiz shows are brilliant. QI, Buzzcocks, etc… wonderful. :)

Maybe that's why fewer British shows make it to mainstream American TV- not inclusive enough to appeal internationally. Whereas with the American shows, I'm sure they're making them with the intent to sell them overseas.
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:41PM
ozoneocean at 8:35AM, Dec. 31, 2008
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skoolmunkee
Maybe that's why fewer British shows make it to mainstream American TV- not inclusive enough to appeal internationally. Whereas with the American shows, I'm sure they're making them with the intent to sell them overseas.
American comedy doesn't have to try to be more inclusive. It has the benefit of building on all the rest of those cultural exports: people will get U.S. refs because a lot of U.S. culture is already familiar to them from almost a century's worth of popular films, books, magazines, music… :)
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:33PM
CharleyHorse at 12:07PM, Dec. 31, 2008
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Although U.S. based, I'm a fan of much of British television humor from Faulty Tower to Keeping up Appearances, Chef, The Vicar of Dibley, The Thin Blue Line, As Time Goes By and even Are You Being Served.

But the thing is that most of these were also monster hits [in relative terms[ in Great Britain before they hit American shores. Similarly fantastic American shows such as Golden Girls, Frazier, Will and Grace, Dharma and Greg and others were relatively big hits here before being exported.

People tend to like the best of the best in both nations. On the other hand, drek is generally considered drek regardless of its country of origin.

On the other hand the top post was specific in regards to films, which means movies, which means . . . urk!

Skullbie
Do British people find American humor/films to be unfunny as well? Or is it just America being accustomed to punchlines and perv humor?

Wellllllll . . . . I'm not a fan of most British comedy movies which I tend to consider slap stick. On the other hand, most American comedy movies . . . I also consider to be fairly rank most of the time. So it goes. :gem:
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:40AM
Bekefel at 5:59PM, Jan. 1, 2009
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I'm not a big fan of these American “comedy” programs. Yes shows such as Friends do spill up something funny on the odd occasion, but overall I really can't stand to watch poorly setup situations in which everyone tries to be funny at the end of every sentence, that is until you get those romantic moments where the crowd start whooping and shouting until they are cooled off with another little punchline. Shows like Will and Grace and Friends dont interest me. I tend to find British comedy to be much better, all of my favourite comedy shows have been British made. However I can't deny my love for American cartoons like Family Guy or Futurama, because everyone needs to enjoy something that they offer.

Of course there are the obvious British comedies like Blackadder, but theres a goldmine of programs besides those. Peep Show, Darkplace, The Thick of It. Obviously I'm going to be biased because I'm British but I really can't see how alot of American comedy programs can even match up. You only have to look the the UK version of The Office against the US version to get a good idea.

Unfortunatly American comedies clearly are a success here because Friends is always selling and is constantly repeated on TV, shows like Will and Grace and Just Shoot Me feature regularly too. American comedy seems to be on our screens just to fill space if I'm honest. I sometimes watch them if nothing else is on, even if I don't like it much, it does keep the brain numbed.
Please, please, you give me too little credit.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:20AM
DAJB at 6:49AM, Jan. 2, 2009
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A lot of American comedies have done well over here in the UK. Traditionally, though, I've tended to find US sitcoms every bit as bad and as bland as UK sitcoms: by and large, they both play safe and do very little that's original. There's a reason why - some 20 to 30 years after they were made - Friends and Cheers still sell in the UK while Monty Python and Black Adder are still held up as the international highpoints of British comedy.

That said, I'm finding more US comedies funny than I used to, and so either my sense of humour is changing or writers are starting to get far more adventurous on your side of the Pond.

I loved Chuck, I thought Pushing Daisies was not entirely successful but very brave, and (apart from the overly mawkish and sentimental end to the first series) Eli Stone is just superb.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:03PM
ozoneocean at 7:23AM, Jan. 2, 2009
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DAJB
apart from the overly mawkish and sentimental end to the first series
That's another the thing with a lot of American comedy. It used to be that American sitcoms were mainly done in a sentimental/semi-realistic, friendly fashion, and that contrasted with British ones that were quite cartoonish, but also very cruel to their characters.

You just didn't see that cruelty in U.S. sitcoms very much… (you did in older U.S. comedy) But that really started to change after the 80's, or so it seemed to me, and you got things that reminded me a little bit more of Brit Comedy (in attitude), like Sinefled and Married with Children- characters that are mean and that's the joke.

I'll revise what I said slightly about U.S. obvious VS U.K. subtle humour, because while British comedy CAN seem very broad and cartoonish, there's often a lot of other subtext going on at the same time. It's usually more than just what you see; double the content. It's not that it's always very deep, it's just that you might be watching some silly comedy skit about two people arguing about the price of milk or something and there are the obvious jokes, plus, digs at the current political situation, sexual double entendres, and all sorts of other little ironic and knowing bits and pieces.
While there in most U.S. comedy there wasn't so much of that. With Sienfeld for example that'd have a lot of funny storylines going on at once, but most of the jokes would be pretty shallow for what they were; I don't mean intellectual depth, I mean once the joke is done it's done, and you're onto the next one, there's no mining for other jokes in and around it.
————————

THAT started to change too, but I still feel U.S. comedy mainly goes for quantity over quality. In General.

There are always exceptions. ALWAYS!!!!!
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:33PM
Drasnus at 11:39AM, Jan. 2, 2009
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ozoneocean
While cleverer shows like The Simpsons always had some real subtlety laced in amongst the more obvious content.
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:16PM
Senshuu at 4:23PM, Jan. 2, 2009
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I do know one thing about British humor and culture. They, of course, could have never produced anything like Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. :D

People keep citing Friends and such as examples of American humor, yeah, I guess Friends was popular… Fresh Prince was actually funny, though, and endearing despite its absolute ridiculousness, and a prime example of what should still be rerun for hours every late night. :B

Most comedy shows aren't very attractive to me in either culture. Something has to be weird, special, offbeat. There's not much like that. I'm amused by the two shows I watch with my mom (Keeping up Appearances, One Foot in the Grave) but I have to be in an energetic mood to watch those so I don't zone out or get horribly depressed (in the latter's case).
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Ironscarf at 11:13AM, Jan. 3, 2009
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Senshuu
I do know one thing about British humor and culture. They, of course, could have never produced anything like Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. :D

That's so true!

In our version, the fresh prince would have to be a rich kid whose parents got jailed for fraud, so he had to go live with his distant down at heel chav relations on a run down council estate. Yeah - that would be funny!

We don't like to watch rich folks unless we're laughing at their tragic downfall.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:02PM
ozoneocean at 7:52PM, Jan. 3, 2009
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Ironscarf
We don't like to watch rich folks unless we're laughing at their tragic downfall.
That's one of the things I love about the humour.
It's not about happy successful “good looking” people who win.

I hope that never changes.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:33PM
DAJB at 7:27AM, Jan. 5, 2009
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ozoneocean
I hope that never changes.
Me too!

It's a matter of taste, obviously, but personally I'd say that Fresh Prince is exactly the kind of show I am proud to say we Brits could never produce! It has the same tired format which has been propping up the worst US sitcoms since I Love Lucy, The Beverley Hillbillies and The Dick Van Dyke Show. It's packed full of stale punchlines, all telegraphed five minutes in advance in case the audience fails to recognise them and accompanied by a pre-recorded laughter track in case the audience does recognise them but doesn't find them funny. All very well and good in its day but this format was tired by the Seventies and just screaming to be put out of its misery by the Eighties.

I'm not saying the UK doesn't have its own share of unfunny sitcoms (we do, we do!), but I am so glad we never went down that particular route!
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lefarce at 10:40PM, Jan. 5, 2009
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I'm American and I tend to find Mexican humor in films to be face-palm worthy unfunny. Very childish ‘wacky and random’ will make it humorous, I've talked to others about this and it seems I'm not the only one.(seen forum discussions confirming it too)

So this got me thinking; Do Mexican people find American humor/films to be unfunny as well? Or is it just America being accustomed to punchlines and perv humor?

 
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:33PM
Exzachly at 4:52AM, Jan. 21, 2009
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I can totally understand why brits would hate american humor if they're getting exposed to nothing but Friends, Will and Grace, and other torchbearers of the dying sitcom formula.

But please, check out Arrested Development and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia if you haven't heard of them. We owe you guys that much.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:25PM
Kali at 9:02AM, Jan. 21, 2009
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Senshuu
I always wondered this as well.

(The British probably take what they can get. Their skies are grey all the time. ALL THE TIME)

Odd. I'm being blinded by the sun pouring through the window right now so that is completely false statement if there was ever one.

I find the quiz shows are funny but the deliberate comedies like Little Britain and Gavin and Stacy are rubbish. That's what happens when pop culture seeps in and infects television. However I find that I have the same view of Beavis and Butthead, Dr. Steve-o, Wild Boys & JackAss (all American exports) seem all the same and after a couple of episodes you begin to get tired of it. The Simpsons is another like this, the episodes have become predictable in the plot (I still tune in for the Halloween specials though).

Try watching “The Young Ones”, “Black Adder” “Shaun of the Dead”, “Hot Fuzz”. At least these comedies have have some thought.

It really depends on your nationality and whether you are up to date on current affairs to understand.

(I like Drawn Together and Who's Line is it anyway so I'm not saying all exports are rubbish)

Fenrir says Grrrrrr!
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confusedsoul at 2:10PM, Jan. 21, 2009
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I generally like animated comedies that come out of America (Family Guy, Futurama, Drawn Together, South Park) to British ones, although the only animated British program I can currently think of is Monkey Dust, which was pretty hit and miss.

I think British comedies have a real feeling of bleakness about them- whether its a persons aspirations being shattered, or stuck in a dead end job, or life just generally treating them like they're amoebas. I mean, that covers quite a lot of them (Fawlty Towers, Only Fools and Horses, Bottom, Porridge) but the characters in it either deserve what happens to them or they elicit a feeling of “better luck next time”.
I don't get that with American comedies. I think the sets make the characters look too rich to make me feel concerned about them.

I think I watch more American comedies than British, but only because decent comedy sketch shows or sitcoms are hard to find amongst a ton of crap. My personal favourite British comedies are Blackadder II, Spaced, Peep Show and Father Ted, mainly as they're all weird in some manner. My favourite American ones are Frasier and Scrubs, although I hate the mawkish sentimentality at the end of every Scrubs episode. I just don't care if everyone learns a lesson, it really bugs me.

I don't think much of thr scatter shot approach to American comedies where they have a ba-jillion writers for each episode to cram as many jokes of varying quality in as possible. I remember reading about the production of Will and Grace, where an audience would be tested per scene to see which jokes worked the best, before bringing a new audience in to test the improved sketch on. It just struck me as a really artificial way of extracting humour by trying to appeal to everyone, which isn't entirely possible in comedy.

This is a little off topic, but what to American's think of British comedians and vice versa?
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:44AM
Senshuu at 2:22AM, Jan. 24, 2009
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DAJB
It's a matter of taste, obviously, but personally I'd say that Fresh Prince is exactly the kind of show I am proud to say we Brits could never produce! It has the same tired format which has been propping up the worst US sitcoms since I Love Lucy, The Beverley Hillbillies and The Dick Van Dyke Show. It's packed full of stale punchlines, all telegraphed five minutes in advance in case the audience fails to recognise them and accompanied by a pre-recorded laughter track in case the audience does recognise them but doesn't find them funny. All very well and good in its day but this format was tired by the Seventies and just screaming to be put out of its misery by the Eighties.

I'm not saying the UK doesn't have its own share of unfunny sitcoms (we do, we do!), but I am so glad we never went down that particular route!

The thing about Fresh Prince is that everyone could relate to its humor. That's why it was a successful show among all people, not just black people. And there's not a single need for laugh tracks in that show, because Will was a riot. You'd have to be British not to understand its humor or references, basically. So yeah, no laugh tracks, just genuine funny responses. And you can tell.

Shows like One Foot in the Grave would literally put me to sleep if there wasn't laughter thrown in along with its humorous parts. And since most of that show actually looks filmed on locations, you kind of wonder…

Kali: I guess it just looks that way on TV. :B

Also, Drawn Together is awful, and the fact that it got three seasons is awful as well.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:27PM

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