I enjoy British comedy. Some people can’t stand it. Some people say they don’t get it which I don’t get. What is there to get? You watch and you laugh because it’s funny. Part of it is I grew up on it. Part of it is I like my comedy dry and deadpan. Maybe it’s the accents, but I’m pretty sure it is the delivery.
I think a lot of British comedy (or at least the ones I watch(ed)) stem from a theatrical background. Plays they understood, so why couldn’t you film the play and call it a television show? All about the entrance. John Inman was on a show called “Are You Being Served?” It was set in a department store. Everyone arrived for work and entered the show by stepping off the elevator. You couldn’t wait for him to come off the elevator. It would be outlandish, over the top and hilarious.
Someone described another show, “Little Britain”, as self effacing humor. A lot of British comedy makes fun of traits, traditions, and all things about being British. They think the stiff upper lip is funny as well. Characters become caricatures. We know them all too well and sometimes they can be too close to home.
What I like about a lot of British comedy is they are very good at zeroing in at truth and hypocrisy. So many of the characters come from a place of insecurity and pain. They then fight to hide it, to protect themselves, pack themselves in pride and a sense of self so people think they’re all right. You can’t help but like them because you know what they’re going through.
Here are some recommendations for people who would like to get into British comedy:
Are You Being Served?–Set at a department store. Double entendres and puns abound.
The Black Adder-Rowan Atkinson as the Black Adder, different centuries, same fun. In later seasons, look for Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry.
Mr. Bean- Rowan as the original man-child.
Keeping Up Appearances-Patricia Routledge is a lovable snob who wants to move up in the world, but only succeeds in isolating herself. She’d be horrified to discover how rude she actually is.
The Vicar of Dibley- Dawn French, half of Ab Fab (another great comedy), is a woman vicar is the smallest of the small towns.
The Catherine Tate Show- You’ll be saying “Am I bovvered?” to everything.
Little Britain-2 men, 9 millions sketches (not really). Narrated by Tom Baker, for you Dr. Who fans.
A Bit of Fry and Laurie–Yes, Hugh Laurie is British and here he is with the amazing Stephen Fry. Met in college and launched careers in comedy. Will inspire you if you’re into comedy.
Fawlty Towers–John Cleese as the hotel owner who says what anyone who has ever worked in a hotel wants to say. Not funny if you work in a hotel.
Then of course there’s Monty Python, but then you already know about them…nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more.