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(YouTube)   Stephen Fry eloquently explains the difference between British and American comedy   (youtube.com) divider line 53
    More: Amusing, Stephen Fry, Cosby, neurotic, Benny Hill, Mitch Hedberg, comedy, Louis C.K.  
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5672 clicks; posted to Video » on 27 Nov 2012 at 3:09 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-11-27 12:12:19 AM
He's eloquent, but not really correct. There are plenty of insecure, neurotic American comedians. Woody Allen, Louis C.K., etc.
 
2012-11-27 12:39:08 AM
British humour is much more dry and self-deprecating than American humour. I haven't really come across much of that type of humour outside of the UK/Australia.

I tend to not be so amused by most American comedians, except the oddballs like Louis CK, etc.
 
2012-11-27 12:47:53 AM
Eddie Izzard already did this.


\"Yes, leftenant?"
\\"I should go now." "Yes, you should."
 
2012-11-27 12:58:17 AM

Triumph: He's eloquent, but not really correct. There are plenty of insecure, neurotic American comedians. Woody Allen, Louis C.K., etc.


perhaps Louis CK is a british style...duh. he is very clever.
 
2012-11-27 01:11:54 AM

snuff3r: I tend to not be so amused by most American comedians,



Homework assignment:

Watch some Dave Attell and Jim Norton.
 
2012-11-27 01:24:10 AM

some_beer_drinker: Triumph: He's eloquent, but not really correct. There are plenty of insecure, neurotic American comedians. Woody Allen, Louis C.K., etc.

perhaps Louis CK is a british style...duh. he is very clever.


Sorry, but I take issue with his idea that American comedians are all about being great. Seinfeld is arguably the biggest American comedy show ever and it wasn't about how great Americans are, it was about how horrible Americans are.
 
2012-11-27 02:15:44 AM

kmmontandon: \"Yes, leftenant?"


It's just the rebels, sir. They're here.
 
2012-11-27 02:29:46 AM

The_Sponge: snuff3r: I tend to not be so amused by most American comedians,


Homework assignment:

Watch some Dave Attell and Jim Norton.


Jim Norton? He's a roast comedian. Supremely lame. What type of person pays to see him?

I like Dave Attell. I loved Insomniac.
 
2012-11-27 03:23:16 AM
I take issue with him using Ben Stiller as an example of the wise cracking American comedian who is above it all. If you just look at his movie roles, he's very much in the British mold as a guy getting shiat on from up high. Meet the Fockers, Night at the Museum, even The Watch, is always about him getting shiat on. If you're going to point out the difference between him and British comedy, I'd say the main difference is Stiller isn't funny.
 
2012-11-27 03:40:18 AM
Leave it to a Brit to explain comedy in the least humorous way possible.
 
2012-11-27 03:41:11 AM

Triumph: He's eloquent, but not really correct. There are plenty of insecure, neurotic American comedians. Woody Allen, Louis C.K., etc.


Those guys are always armed with wisecracks. Woody Allen essentially plays himself in every movie, which if you think about it means playing a scrawny, insecure little nebbish who goes through beautiful women like a Farker goes through tissues. The first time you watch a Woody Allen movie, you think, this Woody Allen guy is such a lech. The way the leading lady responds to his character, such unrealistic writing, the wishful thinking of an old perv. A guy like that would never get a girl like her. Later you realize it seemed completely realistic to him because he was busy boning the leading lady off-camera. His conquests included Diane Keaton, Mia Farrow, and then Soon-yi Previn (starting when she was one-third his age,) and those were just the keepers.
 
2012-11-27 03:49:30 AM

AverageAmericanGuy: Leave it to a Brit to explain comedy in the least humorous way possible.


Do you also expect people discussing violence to be pissed off?
 
2012-11-27 03:57:18 AM

Lionel Mandrake: AverageAmericanGuy: Leave it to a Brit to explain comedy in the least humorous way possible.

Do you also expect people discussing violence to be pissed off?


I at least expect it to be entertaining.

Discovery Channel and History Channel have really found a way to bring life and energy to their shows.

The Brits just lost Mr Bean because Atkinson couldn't stand to play a buffoonish character anymore.

I'd say that America comes out ahead.
 
2012-11-27 04:04:57 AM

AverageAmericanGuy: Lionel Mandrake: AverageAmericanGuy: Leave it to a Brit to explain comedy in the least humorous way possible.

Do you also expect people discussing violence to be pissed off?

I at least expect it to be entertaining.



I found it entertaining, but I do feel sad that you had to spend four whole minutes without being entertained.

I won't address your commentary on Discovery and the History Channel, because they seem to have nothing to do with anything.

I'm sorry if I haven't entertained you.
 
2012-11-27 04:21:12 AM
I think it's hard to really nail down a difference - both American and UK comedy have been heavily influenced by one another. You can't deny that things like Python, Benny Hill, Black Adder, The Young Ones, etc have influenced American comedians. Likewise, I'm sure things like SNL, Second City, KITH (I know, they're technically Canadian but it's North American at least), Seinfeld, Friends, various "star" standup comedians like Carlin, Pryor etc. etc. have had some impact in the UK.
 
2012-11-27 04:31:36 AM

mamoru: kmmontandon: \"Yes, leftenant?"

It's just the rebels, sir. They're here.


My God man! Do ... Do they want tea?
 
2012-11-27 04:44:37 AM

AverageAmericanGuy: Lionel Mandrake: AverageAmericanGuy: Leave it to a Brit to explain comedy in the least humorous way possible.

Do you also expect people discussing violence to be pissed off?

I at least expect it to be entertaining.

Discovery Channel and History Channel have really found a way to bring life and energy to their shows.

The Brits just lost Mr Bean because Atkinson couldn't stand to play a buffoonish character anymore.

I'd say that America comes out ahead.




Mr Bean was made entirely for export to Germany, Japan, and the US. No-one in the UK watches it, any more than anyone in Australia drinks Fosters.
 
2012-11-27 05:41:07 AM

Triumph: Seinfeld is arguably the biggest American comedy show ever and it was

about as funny as watching paint dry.

I've seen corporate training videos that were funnier than that drek.
 
2012-11-27 05:49:04 AM

Bungles: AverageAmericanGuy: Lionel Mandrake: AverageAmericanGuy: Leave it to a Brit to explain comedy in the least humorous way possible.

Do you also expect people discussing violence to be pissed off?

I at least expect it to be entertaining.

Discovery Channel and History Channel have really found a way to bring life and energy to their shows.

The Brits just lost Mr Bean because Atkinson couldn't stand to play a buffoonish character anymore.

I'd say that America comes out ahead.



Mr Bean was made entirely for export to Germany, Japan, and the US. No-one in the UK watches it, any more than anyone in Australia drinks Fosters.


Mr. Bean, it's English for Comedy, mate!

/I um, yes, well, I suppose I should be going now. So sorry. Um, well, good bye.
 
2012-11-27 05:49:47 AM
"They're not characters at all, they're just brilliant repositories of fantastic, killer one-liners."

Hmm. Based on what he's saying in the rest of the video, it seems that's a pretty good summation of his view of American comedy.

Now I don't really have any right to disagree with the man when it comes to comedy, but I'm going to anyway. He gave Belushi's character in Animal House as a prominent example. I feel that even that character, as one-dimensional as he may be, was still a very real character as opposed to being strictly a delivery method for the fantasies of writers and audiences. I've known people like that. I've acted like that myself in some situations, and wanted to in others. Not necessarily to that degree or extreme of course. It is a comedy movie, after all, that uses absurdity to good effect. But as a character he has very tangible motivations.

Am I the only one that disagrees with his assessment? Or perhaps I misunderstand what he means by "they're not characters at all". Are there any characters that aren't "characters"? I don't know, my head hurts.
 
2012-11-27 05:59:04 AM
I think overall he made a valid point. Can you find counterexamples in American cinema? Sure, but he's talking about the historical differences, the most popular names from each culture. Even the Woody Allen example is bad -- yes he's neurotic to a fault, but he had plenty of snappy quips, was very intelligent, and always got the girl. Now compare that to Mr. Bean or Basil Fawlty. They wouldn't get laid in a million years. Even the Monty Python characters fall within this category.
 
2012-11-27 06:23:55 AM
terryfallis.com
 
2012-11-27 06:27:23 AM

Eddie Ate Dynamite: "They're not characters at all, they're just brilliant repositories of fantastic, killer one-liners."

Hmm. Based on what he's saying in the rest of the video, it seems that's a pretty good summation of his view of American comedy.

Now I don't really have any right to disagree with the man when it comes to comedy, but I'm going to anyway. He gave Belushi's character in Animal House as a prominent example. I feel that even that character, as one-dimensional as he may be, was still a very real character as opposed to being strictly a delivery method for the fantasies of writers and audiences. I've known people like that. I've acted like that myself in some situations, and wanted to in others. Not necessarily to that degree or extreme of course. It is a comedy movie, after all, that uses absurdity to good effect. But as a character he has very tangible motivations.

Am I the only one that disagrees with his assessment? Or perhaps I misunderstand what he means by "they're not characters at all". Are there any characters that aren't "characters"? I don't know, my head hurts.


Most American comedic actors play a specific character in a few films and then move on, many try to avoid playing the similar roll so they don't limit their careers by getting typecast. Which is why I don't think you can say someone is a bit like Stiller because it wouldn't reference any specific character. Where you could say someone is like Atkinson because everyone knows what your talking about, because the Mr Bean character is so repeated and associated with him.

Stephen Fry is generally correct, there are obvious exceptions but that is always true with a generalization. My biggest issue with something Fry said is 2:27 into this clip, Link, other it was a good series.
 
2012-11-27 07:15:17 AM
I think he is absolutely correct, as it explains very clearly why most people in the US see no difference between a popular comedian and a good comedian. To be popular is to be good in the US. Seinfeld isn't really all that funny. He has great timing and inflection, but the material isn't all that comedic. Woody Allen isn't all that funny in the American sense. He is good at drawing empathy and and a marvelous writer, but as a performer he is flat. Yet both of them are extremely popular and considered to be great comedians. The very last thing Fry says is the clincher. Essentially he says that the American sense of comedy relies upon nothing more than a hook. If you have a hook, you get popular and are therefore considered to be good.

British comedy requires more of the comedian than a hook or a gimmick. It requires a rich, accurate, and intimate knowledge of humanity, and the talent to express that knowledge comedically. It is vastly more difficult to do, which is why you don't see a lot of American comedians being successful in the UK.
 
2012-11-27 07:19:29 AM

some_beer_drinker: Triumph: He's eloquent, but not really correct. There are plenty of insecure, neurotic American comedians. Woody Allen, Louis C.K., etc.

perhaps Louis CK is a british style...duh. he is very clever.


No true American comedian sounds like an Englishman.
 
2012-11-27 07:19:30 AM

Snapper Carr: I think it's hard to really nail down a difference - both American and UK comedy have been heavily influenced by one another. You can't deny that things like Python, Benny Hill, Black Adder, The Young Ones, etc have influenced American comedians. Likewise, I'm sure things like SNL, Second City, KITH (I know, they're technically Canadian but it's North American at least), Seinfeld, Friends, various "star" standup comedians like Carlin, Pryor etc. etc. have had some impact in the UK.


Black Adder = Marx Brothers, Mr. Bean = The Three Stooges.

Discuss.
 
2012-11-27 07:25:15 AM

Eddie Ate Dynamite: "They're not characters at all, they're just brilliant repositories of fantastic, killer one-liners."

Hmm. Based on what he's saying in the rest of the video, it seems that's a pretty good summation of his view of American comedy.

Now I don't really have any right to disagree with the man when it comes to comedy, but I'm going to anyway. He gave Belushi's character in Animal House as a prominent example. I feel that even that character, as one-dimensional as he may be, was still a very real character as opposed to being strictly a delivery method for the fantasies of writers and audiences. I've known people like that. I've acted like that myself in some situations, and wanted to in others. Not necessarily to that degree or extreme of course. It is a comedy movie, after all, that uses absurdity to good effect. But as a character he has very tangible motivations.

Am I the only one that disagrees with his assessment? Or perhaps I misunderstand what he means by "they're not characters at all". Are there any characters that aren't "characters"? I don't know, my head hurts.


Jim Carrey wasn't a "character," the obtuse a-hole Jerry Lewis on crack? He played that same guy with minor variations from Ace Ventura (and prior to then, his appearances on In Living Color) on through Dumb and Dumber and Cable Guy and right up to using parts of it in Truman Show.

Jerry Lewis was Jerry Lewis for about 50 movies.

Steve Martin was "The Jerk" for quite a few movies. Chevy Chase was the bumbling suburban elitist who had to put up with everyone around him for every film he was in.

Goldie Hawn for a time was her cutsey ditsy thing, reliably so. Bette Midler probably conjures up a specific type of character.

Perhaps Fry doesn't "Get" our characters, but it seems to me as though our characters are always present in quite a few comedic A-list actors.
 
2012-11-27 07:26:26 AM

dittybopper: Snapper Carr: I think it's hard to really nail down a difference - both American and UK comedy have been heavily influenced by one another. You can't deny that things like Python, Benny Hill, Black Adder, The Young Ones, etc have influenced American comedians. Likewise, I'm sure things like SNL, Second City, KITH (I know, they're technically Canadian but it's North American at least), Seinfeld, Friends, various "star" standup comedians like Carlin, Pryor etc. etc. have had some impact in the UK.

Black Adder = Marx Brothers, Mr. Bean = The Three Stooges.

Discuss.


How is it possible for Rowan Atkinson to be both Groucho and Moe at the same time? Mind = blown.
 
2012-11-27 07:26:31 AM

AverageAmericanGuy: Leave it to a Brit to explain comedy in the least humorous way possible.


eloquence |ˈeləkwəns|
noun
fluent or persuasive speaking or writing: a preacher of great power and eloquence.
ORIGIN late Middle English: via Old French from Latin eloquentia, from eloqui 'speak out,' from e- (variant of ex-)'out' + loqui 'speak.'
 
2012-11-27 07:27:57 AM

dittybopper: Black Adder = Marx Brothers, Mr. Bean = The Three Stooges.

Discuss.


i'd say that black adder = marx brothers and mr. bean = buster keaton
 
2012-11-27 07:43:03 AM

Generation_D: How is it possible for Rowan Atkinson to be both Groucho and Moe at the same time? Mind = blown.


Because that is true comedic genius.
 
2012-11-27 08:47:26 AM

AverageAmericanGuy: Leave it to a Brit to explain comedy in the least humorous way possible.


Came to say this.

/Leaving satisfied
 
2012-11-27 08:53:57 AM

FlashHarry: dittybopper: Black Adder = Marx Brothers, Mr. Bean = The Three Stooges.

Discuss.

i'd say that black adder = marx brothers and mr. bean = buster keaton


Maybe... but it's more like a parody of Keaton. Keaton's blankness gives the twinkle of intelligence. He's always thinking and working determinedly to solve problems he doesn't quite grasp. The comedy comes from his double takes when something absurd happens in front of him. Bean's blankness looks much more like unintelligence. He's letting things hit him and he's rolling with it because he's fundamentally incurious. He's also much more likely to cause his own troubles.
 
2012-11-27 09:00:44 AM

FlashHarry: eloquence |ˈeləkwəns|
noun
fluent or persuasive speaking or writing: a preacher of great power and eloquence.
ORIGIN late Middle English: via Old French from Latin eloquentia, from eloqui 'speak out,' from e- (variant of ex-)'out' + loqui 'speak.'


Yes, I agree. That is the definition of the word eloquence.
 
2012-11-27 09:16:25 AM

TeamEd: FlashHarry: dittybopper: Black Adder = Marx Brothers, Mr. Bean = The Three Stooges.

Discuss.

i'd say that black adder = marx brothers and mr. bean = buster keaton

Maybe... but it's more like a parody of Keaton. Keaton's blankness gives the twinkle of intelligence. He's always thinking and working determinedly to solve problems he doesn't quite grasp. The comedy comes from his double takes when something absurd happens in front of him. Bean's blankness looks much more like unintelligence. He's letting things hit him and he's rolling with it because he's fundamentally incurious. He's also much more likely to cause his own troubles.


My point was that Rowan Atkinson is versatile enough to handle both fast witty banter and physical comedy styles.
 
2012-11-27 10:32:11 AM
There are some things to take away from this, but in general I think I preferred Simon Pegg's rundown.

The gist if I recall correctly is that for Americans, irony is a tool, something to be broken out when needed and put back in its place the rest of the time. But for British people, irony is an all-encompassing part of existence.
 
2012-11-27 11:32:03 AM
static.quickmeme.com
 
2012-11-27 12:07:15 PM

Balchinian: British comedy requires more of the comedian than a hook or a gimmick. It requires a rich, accurate, and intimate knowledge of humanity, and the talent to express that knowledge comedically. It is vastly more difficult to do, which is why you don't see a lot of American comedians being successful in the UK.


I completely disagree with this statement. There are a few British shows I can think of that rely heavily on hooks, gimmicks, and catchphrases for laughs. Who can forget Mrs. Slocombe's Pussy?
 
2012-11-27 12:18:42 PM
The very idea that there is a definable nationalistic genre of comedy is in itself laughable and should never be given any credence.
 
2012-11-27 12:30:24 PM

ShawnDoc: I take issue with him using Ben Stiller as an example of the wise cracking American comedian who is above it all. If you just look at his movie roles, he's very much in the British mold as a guy getting shiat on from up high. Meet the Fockers, Night at the Museum, even The Watch, is always about him getting shiat on. If you're going to point out the difference between him and British comedy, I'd say the main difference is Stiller isn't funny.


That stuck out sorely to me as well. Stiller has made a career of playing characters that are crapped on from great heights... painfully so at many times.

I'm a big fan of Stephen Fry and honestly just love to listen to him speak but this wasn't a favorite for me.
 
2012-11-27 01:50:10 PM

ShawnDoc: I take issue with him using Ben Stiller as an example of the wise cracking American comedian who is above it all. If you just look at his movie roles, he's very much in the British mold as a guy getting shiat on from up high. Meet the Fockers, Night at the Museum, even The Watch, is always about him getting shiat on. If you're going to point out the difference between him and British comedy, I'd say the main difference is Stiller isn't funny.


I think that Fry is largely correct, but you've made a good point here, and Fry was being overly-simplistic. There are really three types of American comedic heroes, and Fry only notes one.

The three types are The Wiseass, The Meek, and The Schlub.

Fry is observing on the Wiseass, who is a walking repository of one-liners and zingers, and his antagonist is always og higher class and status than he is -- usually a very rigid and mannered enemy -- and is always inevitably overcome by the heroes ability to baffle and confuse him into losing his reserve. The epitome of this type of character is Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop. Low-rent hoodlum with a badge, fast-talking wiseass, defeats rich art dealer with a British accent.

Ben Stiller is a great example of The Meek. So is Woody Allen. The Meek has something in common with the British comedy hero, in that he gets "shiat upon from a great height", but the difference between the Brit and the Meek is that the Brit hero is striving to be better than he is, while the Meek isn't trying to rise above his station. There is a inherent unfairness to the tribulations of the Meek, which is why at the end of the story the Meek always turns the tables on his tormenters and is victorious over them.

The Schlub is a variant on the Meek, but he can be far more boorish and overbearing. His charm is that he is so honest and real, and his villain inevitabely hates him for daring to be happy despite being a boor. The Schlub is cherished by Americans because he embodies our collective mistrust of class consciousness and Old World formalism. While Homer Simpson is probably the best known version of the Schlub, the absolute best example of The Schlub in its purest form is John Goodman in the film King Ralph.
 
2012-11-27 02:27:20 PM

Triumph: He's eloquent, but not really correct. There are plenty of insecure, neurotic American comedians. Woody Allen, Louis C.K., etc.


He takes white protestant American culture as the entirety of American culture, so while there is a grain of truth in what he says (one that goes all the way back to Buster Keaton versus Charlie Chaplin), in fact American culture and American comedy are more complicated and diverse than that, Jewish comics like Woody Allen don't fit into his schema so well. Black American comics display optimism and self-assurance not out of devotion to the protestant work ethic, but because to do otherwise would bring them dangerously close to Stepin Fetchit territory.

Often the differences that Fry points out are due not so much to the comics themselves as to the decisions of entertainment industry marketers and executives. Compare the British and American versions of The Office. David Brent is a loser right up until the end; Michael Scott is a loser who gets the girl. Tim Canterbury is an outsider who for all we know will always be an underachiever, despite getting his girl (mainly by convincing her to accept her own nonconformist tendencies). Jim Halpert, father of two, started out as an outsider, but after getting Pam seems to be well on his way to turning into Ward Cleaver. This shift of emphasis from satire to boosterism is probably the result of either the writers being pressured to produce more advertiser-friendly plotlines or NBC executives promoting writers and producers who share their corporate values.
 
2012-11-27 02:40:02 PM

skepticultist: ShawnDoc: I take issue with him using Ben Stiller as an example of the wise cracking American comedian who is above it all. If you just look at his movie roles, he's very much in the British mold as a guy getting shiat on from up high. Meet the Fockers, Night at the Museum, even The Watch, is always about him getting shiat on. If you're going to point out the difference between him and British comedy, I'd say the main difference is Stiller isn't funny.

I think that Fry is largely correct, but you've made a good point here, and Fry was being overly-simplistic. There are really three types of American comedic heroes, and Fry only notes one.

The three types are The Wiseass, The Meek, and The Schlub.

Fry is observing on the Wiseass, who is a walking repository of one-liners and zingers, and his antagonist is always og higher class and status than he is -- usually a very rigid and mannered enemy -- and is always inevitably overcome by the heroes ability to baffle and confuse him into losing his reserve. The epitome of this type of character is Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop. Low-rent hoodlum with a badge, fast-talking wiseass, defeats rich art dealer with a British accent.

Ben Stiller is a great example of The Meek. So is Woody Allen. The Meek has something in common with the British comedy hero, in that he gets "shiat upon from a great height", but the difference between the Brit and the Meek is that the Brit hero is striving to be better than he is, while the Meek isn't trying to rise above his station. There is a inherent unfairness to the tribulations of the Meek, which is why at the end of the story the Meek always turns the tables on his tormenters and is victorious over them.

The Schlub is a variant on the Meek, but he can be far more boorish and overbearing. His charm is that he is so honest and real, and his villain inevitabely hates him for daring to be happy despite being a boor. The Schlub is cherished by Americans because he embodies our col ...


This thread is dead, but I'd say the key difference (which you hit on) is in how class is portrayed. British comedy is generally about how the protagonist deals with passively stupid, absurd or oblivious antagonists in a rigid class system he wants to overcome but ultimately can't. Generally, American protagonists are up against a class divide they absolutely can cross, if only they succeed against the actively cruel, unfair, or deceptive antagonist.

Americans expect a character's actions to have consequences on their standing, but that doesn't happen in British comedy. British comedy usually ends with both the protagonist and the antagonist in roughly the same place they started, without regard for the intelligence, wit or ingenuity the protagonist has displayed.

Exceptions abound, of course. But, it's hard to think of an American comedy that takes anything close to that formula... occasionally South Park, maybe?
 
2012-11-27 02:57:58 PM
Fry should watch some Farrelly brothers movies.
 
2012-11-27 03:35:09 PM
He's largely right, but there are differences in execution too, as opposed to just aspiration. British comedy is like a rapier. American comedy is like a broadsword.
 
2012-11-27 04:38:56 PM
This is a really provocative and interesting view. Not 100% correct, but he doesn't mean to be - there are always exceptions.

What he seems to be saying is that the status of the comedian within his society is very different within the American and British comic vernaculars. That's the key point he's making. In British humor, the comic is beset upon by society and is 'a failure', in his terms. The audience enjoys his failure, missed dignity, and so on, because of how their society is structured and views authority.

The American vernacular is different. The American comic is inevitably above whatever is going on around him. Belushi is the slapstick comic pantsing the rubes. Woody Allen is the neurotic who is able to slay the indignities of his schlubby life with his wit. Inevitably they are able to command their situation because they are defter, quicker, more on the ball, cooler, etc., than the mooks that populate their environment.

Again, there are exceptions. But this was an interesting exercise.
 
2012-11-27 04:41:22 PM

Balchinian: British comedy requires more of the comedian than a hook or a gimmick. It requires a rich, accurate, and intimate knowledge of humanity, and the talent to express that knowledge comedically.


userserve-ak.last.fm
 
2012-11-27 04:41:27 PM
Was that Tim Minchin asking the question?
 
2012-11-27 05:26:32 PM

Balchinian: I think he is absolutely correct, as it explains very clearly why most people in the US see no difference between a popular comedian and a good comedian. To be popular is to be good in the US. Seinfeld isn't really all that funny. He has great timing and inflection, but the material isn't all that comedic. Woody Allen isn't all that funny in the American sense. He is good at drawing empathy and and a marvelous writer, but as a performer he is flat. Yet both of them are extremely popular and considered to be great comedians. The very last thing Fry says is the clincher. Essentially he says that the American sense of comedy relies upon nothing more than a hook. If you have a hook, you get popular and are therefore considered to be good.

British comedy requires more of the comedian than a hook or a gimmick. It requires a rich, accurate, and intimate knowledge of humanity, and the talent to express that knowledge comedically. It is vastly more difficult to do, which is why you don't see a lot of American comedians being successful in the UK.


Interestingly, Bill Hicks was huge in England.
 
2012-11-27 08:18:46 PM

Scorpitron is reduced to a thin red paste:
In British humor, the comic is beset upon by society and is 'a failure', in his terms. The audience enjoys his failure, missed dignity, and so on, because of how their society is structured and views authority.



As I read this sentence, the following thought struck me: The British comedian wants the audience to laugh at him. The American comedian wants the audience to laugh with him.

/Entirely too broad a brush, but, whatever.
 
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