As you may know I often write about humour and the importance of laughter but many people who follow this blog or indeed read my books, might not quite fully understand the British sense of humour. It is unique and varied and for those not brought up here in Old Blighty – bewildering.
I came across this witty article which possibly explains it. There and again, it is more likely to cause more confusion but hopefully, you will laugh at it.
“British Humour should be rammed down the throat, twice nightly”
~ Noel Coward on British Humour
“It is clear that humour is far superior to humor.”
~ Oscar Wilde on British Humour
~ Mark Twain on British Humour
British humour (American insubordinates: note the spelling) is the greatest of all forms of entertainment. No foreign person ever invented has truly understood this, especially not inhabitants of the good nation of America. This handy, helpful guide will let you, Johnny Foreigner, get to grips with this important part of British culture.
Before we start, two extremely important ground rules should be brought to the attention of the non-British.
We (the British) don’t like you. We’re either scared of you or we laugh at you, and I’m talking the horrible, cynical, soul-crushing, ego-destroying laughter.
We (the British) don’t like ourselves. We’re socially inept, we’ve pissed our Empire up the wall, we’ve pissed off everyone in our own continent of Europe and the rest of the world and our only friends are the United States.
Collectively, the way we disguise these two loathings is called our humour.
The History of Humour
“The very words on the page make my nipples stride forth with purpose”
~ A Britisher on William Shakespeare’s words on the page
King George V and his merry men doing their “Comedy Knights” sketch at Jongleurs in London.
Humour was invented in Britain in 1066 by John Cleese when he was heard to quip, “Those Normans will be making a carpet about this!” Unfortunately, he was correct, but who can guess what the French will do next?!
The development of humour was slow during the Dark Ages that followed, mostly because French people ruled the country and as everyone knows French people have a rubbish sense of humour. Lousy cheese eating surrender monkeys.
The next jump in humour was the development of actors, invented in 1584 by William Shakespeare. The use of actors allowed the spreading of humour further than ever before as their main job was to ram humour down the throats of those who came to watch them. Shakespeare has been credited with the invention of innumerable hilarious one-liners such as “Out, out damned spot”, “To be or not to be, that is the question”, “God, I want to die”, and “I bite my thumb at thee”.
True British humour only really came to the fore after the invention of the radio in 1910 by then top comedian King George V. This allowed the much more subtle play on words style of humour associated with the British today.
The current state of British humour is one of disarray. Monty Python, the famous snake-charmer and fortune-teller, has often been quoted as the biggest influence of current surreal comedy in the UK, with his own cult following. Current devotees of the Cult of Python are Queen Elizabeth II, Harold Shipman, The Mighty Boosh and Tony Blair, amongst other famous comedians.
The Essential Components of British Humouredit
Oxford English Dictionary definition of Sarcasm: “If I could say this and roll my eyes it would be funny.”
Sarcasm is the “use” of “quotation marks” around any “word” to “make” it “funnier”. You will know when “Johnny Foreigner” does this because he will actually use his “fingers” to make little “speech mark things” in the “air”. The thing about British “people” is that they don’t always do this so it can be “hard” to tell when they are being “sarcastic”. An example of “sarcasm” is “Johnny Foreigner now understands British humour completely!”
Read the full article by clicking HERE