British sense of humour?

Apparently, a subtle Iranian disorientation technique involved likening captured Brits to Mr Bean.

I can see how that would work. It would be hard to think of a more devastating putdown.

Mr Bean is beyond repellent. But he’s just an example of the criminally unfunny programmes that Britain makes as comedy and sells around the world. The Simpsons did a brilliant bit in one episode where they had the writer of Bridget Jones complaining that Americans don’t get our subtle irony. (Obviously taking the piss, this being the Simpsons, that always comes with a side order of extra irony.) (Continued after the fold)

Then she broke into a Benny Hill-style chasing sequence with that cringingly bad music that accompanies Benny Hill sequences. (Double irony – contrasting the slapstick sexist nonsense (British) with one of the wittiest programmes ever made. (Bah. American))

On Saturday, a few words in the Guardian announced that the BBC was going to stop selling Benny Hill and ‘Allo, ‘Allo and Are you Being Served?, given that they aren’t representative of current British comedy. Let’s pray they included Mr Bean, but I suspect that – being less than thirty years old – it escaped the chop.

This brought me up short. Who’d have thought British comedy was being represented abroad by this sort of ancient and unfunny dross? In 2007? Did anyone over 5 years old find it funny even thirty years ago?

Talk about giving aid and comfort to the enemy….

I have been patriotically trying to think of mainstream British comedy shows that are funny. Or just watchable, then. (Stand-up doesn’rt count, so there. I can think of lots of good stand-ups) Current ones? Argh. I am hard-pressed to think of any, even if I stretch the definition of current to twenty years old. In fact, I have just realised that not sending the old ones will mean they get newer dross like Little Britain which doesn’t even have the advantage of a nostalgia factor, like the older emetic tv creations. (It does have its own share of catchphrases. Hmm, how subtly ironic is that?)

I finally came up with BlackAdder (See Rowan Atkinson is not only a talentless twerp). Red Dwarf, sometimes. The old Young Ones. Father Ted, everybody says, but I find it a bit irritating. I had to trawl through the more obscure output to come up with the less mainstream Spaced, Black Books, I Deal. I know there are more. I can’t think of them right now.

Look, BBC, good news website. Good Attenborough shows. Better than ITV, Breakfast time programme, even. But do you have to sell comedies so side-gluingly uncomedic that other countries can sneer at us as repressed buffoons or bigots who can’t open their mouths without emitting a string of childish double entendres?

2 thoughts on “British sense of humour?

  1. *cough* Monty Python *cough* Fawlty Towers *cough* Green Wing *cough* The Goodies *cough hack splutter*

    The fact that Iranians “get” Mr Bean at all seems to me to say more about them than it does about us!

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