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    Ricky Gervais: Difference between American and British humor

    Apart from the spelling of the word, obviously
    http://ideas.time.com/2011/11/09/the...ticle-mostpop1

    I found his opinion on the differences to be interesting and thought I'd share.
    "Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm -- but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves." – T.S. Eliot

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    I enjoyed that but I think he underestimates how much Americans like to take the piss out of you and root for the underdog.
    Actual bumper sticker series: Jesus is my co-pilot. Satan is my financial advisor. Budha is my therapist. L. Ron Hubbard owes me $50.

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    (Sid): "I had a dream about you."

    (Barbara) "Did you?"

    (Sid) "No, you wouldn't let me."

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacMadame View Post
    I enjoyed that but I think he underestimates how much Americans like to take the piss out of you and root for the underdog.
    I think he's right on, for the most part. A major part of my thesis dealt with Americans and irony, and, er, we really don't like irony all that much; small doses, occasional forays, that's all fine, but irony as a way of life? No. Americans are sentimental people for the most part (which is really more to our credit than not, IMO); that is what inspires our sympathy for the underdog, but it also means that we prefer our irony to be tempered. What the British consider "taking the piss" is often taken as "going for the jugular" here (Exhibit A: allezfred (and yes, I know he isn't British)). We also don't much care for self-deprecation except in the rich and famous, and we prefer it delivered with a light hand even there (because we think it's insincere if it's laid on too heavily), and we do indeed prefer the cheerful, the optimistic, the polite insincerities and, most of all, genuine sincerity; we're very big on promoting the positive.
    "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."-- Albert Einstein.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacMadame View Post
    I enjoyed that but I think he underestimates how much Americans like to take the piss out of you and root for the underdog.
    I think it's a different type of underdog though. I have a couple friends that love the BBC America channel like I do so the rest put up with us every now and then and let us indulge. The reason the others say they don't like the underdog character is because they feel embarrassed for them instead of wanting to laugh at them. I haven't completely put my thoughts together on what makes the difference but it's there.

    ETA: Prancer posted when I was typing but I think she explained part of what I'm trying to say.
    Last edited by mpal2; 11-30-2011 at 10:47 PM.
    "Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm -- but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves." – T.S. Eliot

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    Sorry for the double post but I just figured it out and I'll be saying the same thing Ricky said. Americans like the underdog that is fighting for respect or something beyond their current state even if it's a small victory. The British underdogs my friends feel embarrassment for are the people that will never be more than the underdog. There is no impression that this poor soul will ever find respect. I don't think we Americans want to see that. I think we know that real life can be like that but we use our tv shows and movies as a route for escape which heavily influences the more positive happy endings.
    "Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm -- but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves." – T.S. Eliot

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    Quote Originally Posted by mpal2 View Post
    Sorry for the double post but I just figured it out and I'll be saying the same thing Ricky said. Americans like the underdog that is fighting for respect or something beyond their current state even if it's a small victory. The British underdogs my friends feel embarrassment for are the people that will never be more than the underdog. There is no impression that this poor soul will ever find respect. I don't think we Americans want to see that. I think we know that real life can be like that but we use our tv shows and movies as a route for escape which heavily influences the more positive happy endings.
    Yes, we don't like the idea of eternal failure. At all. Americans hate sad endings. And we like our underdogs to be endearing and deserving, so that we want them to triumph and are happy when they do.

    I must say, though, that Ricky Gervais's movies kind of exemplify that kind of thing .

    This is not to say that there isn't an audience of Americans who don't fit that mold and do enjoy irony, realism, black comedy and dark themes. But consider how many books with dark themes or black humor are bleached and rewritten for movies, which are designed to appeal to a broader audience.
    "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."-- Albert Einstein.

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    What popped into my mind was that british quiz show "Never Mind the Buzzcocks". I think it's hilarious, but I have a feeling most Americans would find it to be too mean-spirited.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prancer View Post
    This is not to say that there isn't an audience of Americans who don't fit that mold and do enjoy irony, realism, black comedy and dark themes. But consider how many books with dark themes or black humor are bleached and rewritten for movies, which are designed to appeal to a broader audience.
    I always hear people talking about needing to be in the mood to see some of the darker themes. Maybe I'm just hanging out with a more pessimistic crowd and remember the more pessimistic movie reviews.

    Out of curiousity, how many Americans reading this thread find themselves going to those darker themed movies when we've had relatively good weeks and are in a better emotional state to absorb them? I know that I personally go for escape when I've had a long or stressful week. If I wanted realism I could have stayed home and saved money.
    "Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm -- but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves." – T.S. Eliot

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    Well my mother works in onocology and she never ever wants to watch anything but comedies or inspirational movies. If we want to watch something remotely dark or dramatic, forget it. She'll go on about how that's too depressing after doing 6 tube feeds for patients who don't have 3 weeks left. She is the real life Debbie Downer. If Rachel Dratch was still willing to play that character I'd be sending my mother's many gems as potential lines for another sketch.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scintillation View Post
    Well my mother works in onocology and she never ever wants to watch anything but comedies or inspirational movies.
    My sister used to work in oncology and she was the same way. She worked nights and weekends so all of her patients were basically there to die. If she wasn't in the mood for comedy or inspirational themes we went for action films. Those were normally the weeks when family members were fighting to keep their loved ones alive longer than their living wills specified.

    I have a lot of respect for people who work oncology. That's a very tough job.
    "Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm -- but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves." – T.S. Eliot

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    Quote Originally Posted by mpal2 View Post
    My sister used to work in oncology and she was the same way. She worked nights and weekends so all of her patients were basically there to die. If she wasn't in the mood for comedy or inspirational themes we went for action films. Those were normally the weeks when family members were fighting to keep their loved ones alive longer than their living wills specified.

    I have a lot of respect for people who work oncology. That's a very tough job.
    Oh my mom does a great job at the hospital, but I'm not sure where the compulsion to say things like "It's a good thing we're not going on vacation in August, that's when the terrorists are most likely to attack the US" comes from. Like I said, I wish they still had the Debbie Downer sketch going.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prancer View Post
    but it also means that we prefer our irony to be tempered. What the British consider "taking the piss" is often taken as "going for the jugular" here ... and we do indeed prefer the cheerful, the optimistic, the polite insincerities and, most of all, genuine sincerity; we're very big on promoting the positive.
    That so does not even describe my family lol We diss on eachother for the fun of it when we get together and it's all entirely in good fun and no one gets mad. Because if we "get" them the general phrase used it "Sorry,you left yourself open for that one" We are generally realists and prefer the straight up truth rather than polite insincerities. If you are having a horrible day,you may not dump the whole thing on someone but you don't say "I'm fine"...because it's not true lol.

    Quote Originally Posted by Prancer View Post
    This is not to say that there isn't an audience of Americans who don't fit that mold and do enjoy irony, realism, black comedy and dark themes. But consider how many books with dark themes or black humor are bleached and rewritten for movies, which are designed to appeal to a broader audience.
    Perky films(and people) actually get on my nerves.I'll take irony,realism and dark themes over perky,annoying comedy.

    Quote Originally Posted by mpal2 View Post
    I always hear people talking about needing to be in the mood to see some of the darker themes. Maybe I'm just hanging out with a more pessimistic crowd and remember the more pessimistic movie reviews.

    Out of curiousity, how many Americans reading this thread find themselves going to those darker themed movies when we've had relatively good weeks and are in a better emotional state to absorb them? I know that I personally go for escape when I've had a long or stressful week. If I wanted realism I could have stayed home and saved money.
    I actually don't care what kind of day I've had. I had a realitively tiring day yesterday,but instead of watching My Fair Wedding and all the fru fru stuff...I watched White Chapel on BBC America(guy shot himself in the head,a hanging etc...).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prancer View Post
    But consider how many books with dark themes or black humor are bleached and rewritten for movies, which are designed to appeal to a broader audience.
    For some reason, the one that bugs me the most is Disney's The Little Mermaid. She did not get to marry the prince! The prince married someone else! And the little mermaid died.

    Yeah, that would have gone over well with the Disney audience.

    Conversely, the ballet Swan Lake was reworked from its Western version where Odette and Siegfried die together to fit the Soviet propaganda. In the Soviet version, they live happily ever after. My mom was shocked to find out it could be otherwise.
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    It's funny how classic US sitcoms like All In The Family, Sanford & Son and Three's Company, were all based on UK sitcoms. I wonder what changes were made from the original shows.

    But then you have shows like Coupling, or that awful attempt to recreate AbFab with the usually funny Jean Smart, that crash and burn like atomic bombs.

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    I liked Coupling,My Family and Not Going Out. I wish BBC America would show more British comedy sitcoms and a little less Primeval.lol Coupling had quite a bit of naughty in it,so not surprised it didn't go far in the US. Although,it really wasn't that bad lol

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    Quote Originally Posted by IceAlisa View Post
    For some reason, the one that bugs me the most is Disney's The Little Mermaid. She did not get to marry the prince! The prince married someone else! And the little mermaid died.

    Yeah, that would have gone over well with the Disney audience.

    Conversely, the ballet Swan Lake was reworked from its Western version where Odette and Siegfried die together to fit the Soviet propaganda. In the Soviet version, they live happily ever after. My mom was shocked to find out it could be otherwise.
    I always thought the movie versions of Pride and Prejudice (both American and British) missed the point of the book. They tend to turn it into a fairytale with Darcy as Prince Charming. I thought Austen's characters were less lovable and sympathetic, and more absurd. The girls were hopelessly romantic, the mother hopelessly materialistic, and the men hopelessly cynical. Ironically they all end up together.
    same place.

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    The girls in those books are the reason I could never get through them LOL Because in real life they are the type of girls I would find annoying.lol

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    Well first I would commend the Brits for making comedies that star older people. I look at someone like Geoffrey Palmer in "As Time Goes By" and don't know if we have someone ironic, droll, wry and very funny in an understated way STARRING in an American sitcom. I don't know if irony comes with age.

    As for Gervais I have enjoyed everything he has done that I've seen and was truly moved by the "Extras" finale.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrushka View Post
    I liked Coupling,My Family and Not Going Out. I wish BBC America would show more British comedy sitcoms and a little less Primeval.lol Coupling had quite a bit of naughty in it,so not surprised it didn't go far in the US. Although,it really wasn't that bad lol
    I loved Coupling, Chef and The Vicar of Dibley....
    The US version of Coupling was godawful bad; something got lost in the translation. Maybe 'cause it didn't need to be translated I guess.

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