Tag Archives: Salman Rushdie

“Rather comical, dude”: American vs. British humor- an academic perspective

humorancient

Just watched a captivating Salman Rushdie interview in which he repeats a telling quote on the difference between American & British comedy.

British comedy is based on the question “Wouldn’t it be funny IF?” whereas American comedy is based on the question “Isn’t it funny THAT?

American humor is up-front, expressly stated, with laughs readily available and reflection rarely required. Conversely, British humor requires a curious sort of patience. It unravels itself slowly, titillating the imagination. It requires relationship-building- a character or mannerism may not seem funny until its been expressed over time and in many situations. For these reasons, it’s more intimate, and more likely to strike a lasting chord. You might guffaw hard at Zohan’s antics now, but in 20 years, you’re more likely to remember Basil Fawlty and chuckle.

Sybil Fawlty: You’re looking very happy Basil.
Basil Fawlty: Happy? Ah yes, I remember that.

ant-sexyIt’s sort of like a supermodel’s bare bottom versus the same celestial clad in a slit mini-skirt. While it’s amazing to have the instant gratification of the former, one somehow yearns for the artful allure of the latter.