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Are American comedies popular with British people?
ozoneocean at 4:29AM, Jan. 24, 2009
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I never really liked Fresh Prince, it was too bright and bubbly for me. British comedies are indeed bleaker in outlook generally, but that's what makes them fun. Although it's a meaner, nastier type of humour where you laugh AT the characters for being idiots or horrible people, or laugh at the mean things they do.

And I suppose that's not such a good thing in a lot of ways. All things considered.

the League of Gentlemen is a particularly savage example. But one that I love. It has a laugh track that's added though, at least in the early series. And that is distractingly bad for it.

The Royal Family is a great example of the bleak nature of British humour, but I love that too. ALthough I didn't originally.

But it's not always either/or:
Classic bleak British comedy Steptoe and Son was translated to an American sitcom as Sanford and son (and many other comedies besides. AND the trend went both ways).
But often the tone changes. From what I've seen of the U.S. version off the Office, it's a lot friendlier than the mean, nasty, a-moral British version. Which is a shame since that nasty amorality was the whole point.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:33PM
CharleyHorse at 6:53AM, Jan. 24, 2009
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Probably because our directors and producers are arrogant and ignorant on the whole and our writers are usually too young and inexperienced to understand what the British version was actually all about in regards to subtle nuances, reworked British shows almost never work out when the U.S. versions hit our television screens.

By young writers, what I mean is that it is almost impossible now for anyone much over age thirty to get and keep a television writing job in this country and this is because our directors and producers believe that older writers are never ‘hip’ or ‘with it’ enough to draw in and keep viewers. I kid you not.

So we get vast amounts of utter drivel put on television and most of it belly flops during the first season because it was written by writers too young, on the whole, to grasp big picture concepts or understand that their ‘brilliant ideas’ had already been done to death years ago. As for the directors and producers who go with youth over experience, it's never THEIR fault.

The best method, obviously, is to always keep a mixture of youth and experience on hand. Usually when that happens, and youth and age bounce ideas off one another, then good things happen on our television screens.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:40AM
the2ndredbaron at 10:23AM, Jan. 24, 2009
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ozoneocean
But often the tone changes. From what I've seen of the U.S. version off the Office, it's a lot friendlier than the mean, nasty, a-moral British version. Which is a shame since that nasty amorality was the whole point.

I actually think the American verison is much better. I don't know if this has been mention or not, but one of the big reasons the British Office was so amoral was because they had a finite number of episodes. And that goes for most British tv in general. There shows only last a couple of seasons, a season being what 12 episodes or 6, compare that to the US standard of 22,24. With so short a season it seems to be British comedies can't really invest in character building.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:16PM
Sea_Cow at 4:00PM, Jan. 24, 2009
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ozoneocean
I never really liked Fresh Prince

:gem:
I am so happy to finally be back home
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:26PM
Senshuu at 5:09AM, Jan. 25, 2009
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I'm more drawn towards the morality of American-made series and other things, but I'm sure at this point that it's a culture thing.
Right now I like things that could come off as an amalgam of American and British humor…something that can't just be called one thing. <3 Some parts are sweet, some are bitter, somehow it all works. I want to see more of that! But for reasons CharleyHorse said and probably more, that won't happen. Rare is the comedy show that I actually like. (Why did Will and Grace win awards?)
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:27PM
Avalon comics at 12:41PM, Jan. 25, 2009
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Custard Trout
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.
Whoah whoah whoah that's a pretty silly generalisation. You can't really say that most British comedy relies on “suffering” nor can you say American comedies don't have enough of it. Have you SEEN Curb your Enthusiasm?

Custard Trout
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.
Now Alan Partridge is a different story, the show relies on him being a complete dick to get laughs. (for which, read “satire”)
Also, it's comedy, who cares if it's out of proportion?

Honestly I liked Friends, Frasier, Curb your Enthusiasm and not much else. I tried to watch an episode of the Americanised “The Office” but it really didn't get too many laughs out of me.

I second most of what Bekefel said
Bekefel
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.

However, I have to hand it to you yanks on account of Scrubs.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:13AM
Kali at 12:32AM, Jan. 27, 2009
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the2ndredbaron
I actually think the American verison is much better. I don't know if this has been mention or not, but one of the big reasons the British Office was so amoral was because they had a finite number of episodes. And that goes for most British tv in general. There shows only last a couple of seasons, a season being what 12 episodes or 6, compare that to the US standard of 22,24. With so short a season it seems to be British comedies can't really invest in character building.

It's ashame that the american copy of the office isn't original isn't it? :D Anyway, I saw the U.S version and I got bored with it. If I wanted to see things like that I'd sit in actual office.

As for Senshuu, I'm getting the feeling he or she has more of a grudge towards the actual country than the programmes. WE Brits do get Fresh Prince of BelAir so stop it with the belittling tone. It is getting quite irritating.

Fenrir says Grrrrrr!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:13PM
Senshuu at 1:50AM, Jan. 28, 2009
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I'm not belittling Britain or its people. Dunno where you got the idea, either. Maybe I should start using more emoticons?
I was essentially saying (or meant to say) that someone vastly unfamiliar with American culture (esp. that in the 90's, which was “my time” and a nice little era before everything started sucking) would ever be unable to understand a single one of Fresh Prince's jokes. A foreigner, in other words. No one's to blame - I don't laugh at a lot of things in anime when I probably should. It's like that. Culture gaps!
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:27PM
ozoneocean at 4:15AM, Jan. 28, 2009
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Cheers is still one of my all time fave comedies.

It was clever, very funny, the people were losers and not all “pretty pretty” (some were), they rarely ever won, and it could be very dumb and stupid at times too, but it was soooo cool. Loved all the in-jokes and silly running gags :)
-in its attitude to the characters it was quite “British” really in some ways.

The spin-off, “Fraiser”, was never as good. It had something of the original in it, which made it good initially (in the way characters behave and the title character of course), but it was let down in some ways too: Cheers failed in that it was VERY sentimental at times, Frasier was much more so (the relationship with the father, things like that dog). It also suffered from the fact that it pretends to be intelligent… it tries so hard to fake it, but it's so superficial. The humour is very simple stuff always, and all the name-checking of expensive brands, and pretending at style and sophistication etc gets a little sickening. It's so pretentious.

So that was a bad example of U.S. comedy.

—-

Fresh Prince… I never really watched it much at all so I can't really comment. All I can go by is from the bits that I saw sometimes- The set-up was very contrived, but that didn't really matter since it was one that worked. It WAS a funny situation and “fish out of water” scenarios are standards. The characters were all done well, especially the weasely, whiney, sneaky son of the rich family- I loved him. :)
The obsequious butler got very annoying… he was probably supposed to be though.

What was a turn-off was the rags to riches thing (successful people are more funny when they lose it all), Will Smith's character and the start of the show. - Don't get me wrong, Will Smith was very good in Fresh Prince, but his character type was one of those things that was getting really twee in the 90's at that time (as with the show's intro). That hip-fake-plastic-homeboy thing was getting jarring by that stage. It was everywhere


————–
Wow, what an essay… T_T

Anyway, mawkish, sentimental comedy is something the U.S. used to do a hell of a lot. It got a little annoying… but in one particular case it worked VERY well indeed: Good Times! Those people are all doing it tough there, they have MASSIVE family dramas, but it was just SO well done. That show is art.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:33PM
the2ndredbaron at 8:42AM, Jan. 28, 2009
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Kali
the2ndredbaron
I actually think the American verison is much better. I don't know if this has been mention or not, but one of the big reasons the British Office was so amoral was because they had a finite number of episodes. And that goes for most British tv in general. There shows only last a couple of seasons, a season being what 12 episodes or 6, compare that to the US standard of 22,24. With so short a season it seems to be British comedies can't really invest in character building.

It's ashame that the american copy of the office isn't original isn't it? :D Anyway, I saw the U.S version and I got bored with it. If I wanted to see things like that I'd sit in actual office.



I actually much prefer the American Office. I like being able to connect with a show that I watch and by having real human characters the American version does just that.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:16PM
ozoneocean at 9:34AM, Jan. 28, 2009
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the2ndredbaron
by having real human characters
I know people like every single one of the characters in the original. Everyone is played completely naturalisticly with no “jokes”, just natural dialogue.

That's no criticism on you or the U.S. copy, but if you're talking 'characters" that are like real people, every one of them in the original fits that description. Which is the point of the show. :)
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:33PM
confusedsoul at 12:26PM, Jan. 28, 2009
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Senshuu
I'm not belittling Britain or its people. Dunno where you got the idea, either. Maybe I should start using more emoticons?
I was essentially saying (or meant to say) that someone vastly unfamiliar with American culture (esp. that in the 90's, which was “my time” and a nice little era before everything started sucking) would ever be unable to understand a single one of Fresh Prince's jokes. A foreigner, in other words. No one's to blame - I don't laugh at a lot of things in anime when I probably should. It's like that. Culture gaps!

Not true. I used to watch the Fresh Prince when I was a kid, and I found it funny then without any knowledge of American culture. I didn't even know where Bel-Air (?) was.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:44AM
Senshuu at 11:19PM, Jan. 28, 2009
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And that goes back to Fresh Prince actually having kind of a universal appeal. If anyone ever didn't understand a part of it I'd have to assume there was a culture gap, but I wouldn't really expect anyone not to. :D

I found out that with my favorite shows, most of the characters seem to be insufferable near the beginning. FP, Frasier, even Golden Girls (but not the last one so much).

Oh, and about Frasier. I never watched the show it spun off of, but it itself is pretty funny, because it's “supposed” to seem smart but is actually really, really silly. That's why I like it. If you pay attention, you realize that it really isn't “smart” and it doesn't take much to get into, either.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:27PM
the2ndredbaron at 11:47PM, Jan. 28, 2009
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ozoneocean
the2ndredbaron
by having real human characters
I know people like every single one of the characters in the original. Everyone is played completely naturalisticly with no “jokes”, just natural dialogue.

That's no criticism on you or the U.S. copy, but if you're talking 'characters" that are like real people, every one of them in the original fits that description. Which is the point of the show. :)

Fair enough, I guess as fair as the Office goes it comes down to personal taste. Slightly of topic but being a fan of British Dramas, has anyone seen Life on Mars? Just curios to know how the British version is.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:16PM
DAJB at 10:30AM, Jan. 29, 2009
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the2ndredbaron
Slightly of topic but being a fan of British Dramas, has anyone seen Life on Mars? Just curios to know how the British version is.
I didn't know there was a “non-British” version but the British version is excellent. Unmissable TV!

The follow-up spin-off series (Ashes to Ashes) was also pretty good but took itself less seriously, opting to play it as comedy drama, rather than a straight drama that just happened to have funny moments from time to time. Worth a look, but don't expect it to work on the same level as Life on Mars.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:03PM
Kali at 4:18AM, April 17, 2009
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This link fits here: http://entertainment.aol.co.uk/tv/disastrous-us-sitcom-remakes/article/20090402235909990003

Fenrir says Grrrrrr!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:13PM
Hakoshen at 11:42AM, April 27, 2009
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I read pretty much the entire thread and I saw the word “Friends” almost a dozen times and the world “Seinfield” not once, which is strange because for several years Jerry Seinfield was the highest paid sitcom actor in the country, if not the world. I've never watched a single episode of Friends, and in my experience 95% of Monty Python is terrible.

Still, my roommate always tries to get me to watch British Comedy. For what it's worth, I love Simon Pegg and pretty much everything he does, but my exposure to British comedy doesn't extend much beyond that.

One last bit about Seinfield, I remember watching a brief headline on 60 Minutes, and it basically said Brits don't much care for Seinfield at all.

In another vein of this discussion, what do Brits do stand up comedy? I ask because I've never seen any.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 12:41PM
Crazy Dutchman at 3:35AM, April 28, 2009
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It's all a matter of taste, but as I'm neither American or British I can say that British stand-ups are far better than most of the Americans. Not that I want to say that American stand-ups are bad, there are some really great ones, but they miss the charm and absurdism that the finest British comedians have already mastered. People like Bill Bailey, Dylan Moran, Eddie Izzard.. brilliant!
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:48AM
Bekefel at 6:34PM, April 29, 2009
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If Simon Pegg is in something, you have to watch it, simple.

Spaced to name an oldie and Star Trek to name a newie.

STAR TREK?!?
Please, please, you give me too little credit.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:20AM

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