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  1. #21

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    I definitely prefer British humour to American humour. I found the British version of The Office to be much funnier than the American version which I found lacking in bite compared to the original.

    Black Adder is a good example of Brit humour. It is, IMO, the most hilarious show ever made and A Black Adder's Christmas Carol is one thing I must watch around Christmastime. But it's basically horrible people saying and doing horrible things and then dying at the end of the series. It's witty, dark, and sarcastic, and a far cry from typical goofy American comedies. I've tried introducing people to it, but half of them don't get it and think it's just cruel and depressing. I think that's one of the main differences between American and British humour- British humour isn't afraid to have main characters that are unlikeable. Take Basil Fawlty for instance. In an American comedy, he would just be a clueless goof that has bad things happen to him and his hotel. That way, we would be able to sympathize and root for him. But he's not. He's rude, bitter, and just all around not a nice guy. In fact, none of the characters in Fawlty Towers are all that likeable but the show is still enormously funny. My Family is the same, most of the characters are unlikeable or at best annoying. It's not a lovey-dovey family comedy where they all hug at the end of each episode having solved the problem at hand.

    Coupling is also fantastic but waayyyy too racy for American TV. Honestly, who thought that would work ? Steve's speech about Lesbian Spank Inferno? The trip to the sex shop to buy "Junior Patrick", which was then given to Steve's mother-in-law? A whole two episodes on The Melty Man? Even the whole thing about checking Susan's remote controls for batteries. Characters on American sitcoms just don't talk about these things, unless it's Sex and the City on HBO.

    A great American black comedy from recent years is Thank You for Smoking but I believe it was largely unsuccessful, which is a shame because it's great. Not surprising though, since it also doesn't have a clear good guy to root for, with all the characters rather, err... morally ambiguous.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cachoo View Post
    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.
    I commend them for casting ordinary-looking people who can ACT over attractive bubbleheads I find hard to believe can even read their scripts let alone think just because they're pretty (male or female.) I don' think there was a notably above-average looking actor over the entire run of "Last of the Summer Wine" (I may have missed someone; it was a VERY long run) but it was funny and sad at times and well-done. I credit my alleged 'odd' taste in men to watching mostly British shows on PBS and TVO when I was little (and Peter Davidson and Christopher Timothy probably also have a lot to do with my thing for vets but let's not open up THAT OCD fixation).

    I don't think American versions of something like Fawlty Towers would fail because Americans don't appreciate a complete jerk like Basil (clearly we do or it wouldn't be as popular here) but because American SHOWS and actors are very hesitant about committing to a character who's completely a rat bastard or who's a total loser or completely OTT in some way (Mr. Humphries would be a hard sell in an American version, too.) The various BBC networks and ITV (love 'em or hate 'em) also appear willing to go with shows that are not 100% neatly categorized--As Time Goes By could slip in very serious sweet romantic moments in the midst of VERY silly plots, LotSW did much the same, Coupling had moments that were more real about relationships than most US 'family dramas' ever manage, there are dramas that aren't afraid to verge into silly...here, if you pitch a show to anyone but the pay-cable movie channels you better have a really short neat description and it better fit "drama" or "comedy." You can start blurring genre lines if and when you last long enough.

    If nothing else the staggering popularity of Monty Python and to a somewhat lesser degree Blackadder (even when both series have sketches or jokes that sometimes require a better grasp of British history or politics than most Americans have, simply by virtue of not living there) says that there's something about British humor we clearly GET and appreciate--in Monty Python's case, we WILL do absurdist borderline-inappropriate humor ("Oh, Mr. Hilter has great plans for Minehead." "Like what?" "Well, for a start he's going to annex Poland..." "That nice Mr. McGoering called, he's found a place where you can rent bombers by the hour." "IF HE OPENS HIS FAT MOUTH AGAIN IT'S LAMPSHADE TIME!") In Blackadder, we'll sort-of root for the jerk while still having sympathy for his victims who deserve sympathy (Baldrick) or want to see him win over the ones who don't (Melchett.)

    OT: aliceanne, I think you're right both versions of P&P missed the boat, the American one more so (though it suffered from having to cram everything into a theatrical film, too) but I think you missed the whole point of the BOOK--Jane and Lizzie are not especially romantic--Kitty and Lydia are, but we're not supposed to like or approve of them. We're supposed to think they're silly, that Mary is rude, and that Mrs. Bennett is a flakey twit. Mr. Darcy is in fact NOT a prince--Lizzie's right to find him rude as he was judgmental and rude at the first dance and he was completely in the wrong with Jane and Bingley, but SHE is wrong to take Wickham (a rake we're supposed to find an idiot) at his word and judge Darcy on her first impression (the 'prejudice' of the title and the book's working title was 'First Impressions.') Way too many people think Darcy and Elizabeth are supposed to be a slap slap kiss relationships--hostility standing for something else. They're not. They really dislike each other, for the wrong reasons. That they get past that is proof they are NOT as silly as Elizabeth's family (who, except for Jane, are all exactly what Darcy calls them in his letter explaining himself. Jane and Bingley are well-matched in they're nice people but not exceptionally bright.) It's not a romance, it's a social satire. But that doesn't sell well when you have Colin Firth playing Darcy.

    Now you want an Austen book full of idiots, there's Mansfield Park, where the message seems to be "be a doormat and karma will reward you", or Northanger Abby where even the HERO thinks the heroine's a bit of a twit.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by aliceanne View Post
    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.
    It's sometimes hard to convey the nuances of the literary character onto the screen. I don't find the one with Keira Knightly to be too fairy tale-like but not exactly as I imagine Elizabeth either.
    Quote Originally Posted by danceronice View Post
    Now you want an Austen book full of idiots, there's Mansfield Park, where the message seems to be "be a doormat and karma will reward you", or Northanger Abby where even the HERO thinks the heroine's a bit of a twit.
    Can't stand Fanny Price.
    "Nature is a damp, inconvenient sort of place where birds and animals wander about uncooked."

    from Speedy Death

  4. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scintillation View Post
    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.
    I LOVE buzzcocks. Noel Fielding is such a babe

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyWarhol View Post
    I LOVE buzzcocks. Noel Fielding is such a babe
    OMG I know. I never been attracted to his type before but my god what a sexy sexy man. We could do each others hair.

    Also would like to chime in that I love Coupling, and I love The Vicar of Dibley. I know they tried to do an American crossover of the Vicar with Kirstie Alley but it thankfully never made it to the air.

  6. #26
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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'm definitely one of them... But I wasn't just thinking of myself. In almost every job I've had, it's very common for us to sit around at lunch or some other non-work setting and to rag on each other. You see that kind of talking in sit-coms too. It's anything for a joke. I do work in a field that is both male and youth dominated and I do think that this kind of interaction tends to fall out of favor as the group gets more mixed and older. But ribbing each other is a basic part of socializing in pretty much every circle I travel in except figure skating fandom.

    I can believe that there is a difference in degree between the two countries but that isn't what he said. He said UK people do X and Americans don't and I just don't see that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scintillation View Post
    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.
    I think that's just the way some people are. They are always borrowing trouble and can't be happy right now because something bad can always happen to you.

    Anyway, I'm going to go back to watching Being Human (a UK series) and leave all you Americans to watch South Park.
    Actual bumper sticker series: Jesus is my co-pilot. Satan is my financial advisor. Budha is my therapist. L. Ron Hubbard owes me $50.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacMadame View Post
    I can believe that there is a difference in degree between the two countries but that isn't what he said. He said UK people do X and Americans don't and I just don't see that.
    Hmmm, I didn't see it as such an either/or article. Like this part:

    There’s a received wisdom in the U.K. that Americans don’t get irony. This is of course not true. But what is true is that they don’t use it all the time. It shows up in the smarter comedies but Americans don’t use it as much socially as Brits.
    "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."-- Albert Einstein.

  8. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacMadame View Post
    Anyway, I'm going to go back to watching Being Human (a UK series) and leave all you Americans to watch South Park.
    OT: I'm a little bit worried about how that's going to turn out now. I'll watch it and give it a chance but the character turnover has got to change the dynamics I loved so much.
    "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

  9. #29

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    [QUOTE/danceronice]: aliceanne, I think you're right both versions of P&P missed the boat, the American one more so (though it suffered from having to cram everything into a theatrical film, too) but I think you missed the whole point of the BOOK--Jane and Lizzie are not especially romantic--Kitty and Lydia are, but we're not supposed to like or approve of them. We're supposed to think they're silly, that Mary is rude, and that Mrs. Bennett is a flakey twit. Mr. Darcy is in fact NOT a prince--Lizzie's right to find him rude as he was judgmental and rude at the first dance and he was completely in the wrong with Jane and Bingley, but SHE is wrong to take Wickham (a rake we're supposed to find an idiot) at his word and judge Darcy on her first impression (the 'prejudice' of the title and the book's working title was 'First Impressions.') Way too many people think Darcy and Elizabeth are supposed to be a slap slap kiss relationships--hostility standing for something else. They're not. They really dislike each other, for the wrong reasons. That they get past that is proof they are NOT as silly as Elizabeth's family (who, except for Jane,
    are all exactly what Darcy calls them in his letter explaining himself. Jane and
    Bingley are well-matched in they're nice people but not exceptionally bright.)
    It's not a romance, it's a social satire. But that doesn't sell well when you have
    Colin Firth playing Darcy. [QUOTE/]

    I disagree. I think Lizzie is the ultimate romantic, she will only marry for love when circumstances dictate she has a more pressing need (as Charlotte reminds her). She and her father like to think they are the only sensible members of the family, but they behave just as irrationally as the rest of the family.

    I find Kitty and Lydia more horny than romantic, but at least they are honest about their motives.

  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex View Post
    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.
    Quote Originally Posted by mpal2 View Post
    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.
    Every movie version of P&P that I've seen, from Brit to Bollywood sentimentalizes the parents in a way that Austen didn't.

    There are some things even the British are reluctant to make the subject of irony. Everyone wants to believe in the unconditional love of a parent for their child.

    Quote Originally Posted by IceAlisa View Post
    It's sometimes hard to convey the nuances of the literary character onto the screen. I don't find the one with Keira Knightly to be too fairy tale-like but not exactly as I imagine Elizabeth either.
    Can't stand Fanny Price.

  11. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scintillation View Post
    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.
    Amy Winehouse was on Never Mind the Buzzcocks once and the host asked if she would like to perform a deut with Lily Allen (I think it was). Amy replied "No thanks. I'd rather have cat AIDS". I think many Americans would be offended by this. Not so many on this board, but I can see people shaking their head and tsk'ing about a line like that.
    I guess the hard thing for a lot of people to accept is why God would allow me to go running through their yards, yelling and spinning around.


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    I'd be curious where the Brits among us would classify "Saturday Night Live" in the 'taking the piss out of' spectrum, "Frasier" in the upper-class-twit spectrum (but with a heart of gold who EVENTUALLY gets it), and "Northern Exposure", for general-absurdist comedy.

    I'd have to see the Amy Winehouse clip to see if I could discern irony or just plain meanness. Winehouse had her issues.

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    Interestingly, the movie "Invention of Lying" written by Gervais appeared to have been noticeably tweaked to try and "adjust" to American audiences. Still didn't work as the movie barely broken even (plus seemed too similar to Liar, Liar or even Yes Man).

  14. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by aliceanne View Post
    Every movie version of P&P that I've seen, from Brit to Bollywood sentimentalizes the parents in a way that Austen didn't.

    There are some things even the British are reluctant to make the subject of irony. Everyone wants to believe in the unconditional love of a parent for their child.
    I thought the Keira Knightly one made Mrs. Bennett as I imagined her, flustered, ridiculous and very willing to push both Lizzie and Lydia into bad marriages, hardly a loving and thoughtful mother.
    "Nature is a damp, inconvenient sort of place where birds and animals wander about uncooked."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex View Post
    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.
    I saw the US version once and it was awful.I used to record Coupling off of BBCAmerica.I need to buy the DVD's one of these days.

    Quote Originally Posted by triple_toe View Post

    Coupling is also fantastic but waayyyy too racy for American TV. Honestly, who thought that would work ? Steve's speech about Lesbian Spank Inferno? The trip to the sex shop to buy "Junior Patrick", which was then given to Steve's mother-in-law? A whole two episodes on The Melty Man? Even the whole thing about checking Susan's remote controls for batteries. Characters on American sitcoms just don't talk about these things, unless it's Sex and the City on HBO.
    Oh I remember those episodes lol...especially the "Junior Patrick" one.And the one where Susan shows everyone her breasts at the restaurant just to get it over and done with.


    Quote Originally Posted by danceronice View Post
    I commend them for casting ordinary-looking people who can ACT over attractive bubbleheads I find hard to believe can even read their scripts let alone think just because they're pretty (male or female.) I don' think there was a notably above-average looking actor over the entire run of "Last of the Summer Wine" (I may have missed someone; it was a VERY long run) but it was funny and sad at times and well-done. I credit my alleged 'odd' taste in men to watching mostly British shows on PBS and TVO when I was little (and Peter Davidson and Christopher Timothy probably also have a lot to do with my thing for vets but let's not open up THAT OCD fixation).





    OT: aliceanne, I think you're right both versions of P&P missed the boat, the American one more so (though it suffered from having to cram everything into a theatrical film, too) but I think you missed the whole point of the BOOK--Jane and Lizzie are not especially romantic--Kitty and Lydia are, but we're not supposed to like or approve of them. We're supposed to think they're silly, that Mary is rude, and that Mrs. Bennett is a flakey twit. Mr. Darcy is in fact NOT a prince--Lizzie's right to find him rude as he was judgmental and rude at the first dance and he was completely in the wrong with Jane and Bingley, but SHE is wrong to take Wickham (a rake we're supposed to find an idiot) at his word and judge Darcy on her first impression (the 'prejudice' of the title and the book's working title was 'First Impressions.') Way too many people think Darcy and Elizabeth are supposed to be a slap slap kiss relationships--hostility standing for something else. They're not. They really dislike each other, for the wrong reasons. That they get past that is proof they are NOT as silly as Elizabeth's family (who, except for Jane, are all exactly what Darcy calls them in his letter explaining himself. Jane and Bingley are well-matched in they're nice people but not exceptionally bright.) It's not a romance, it's a social satire. But that doesn't sell well when you have Colin Firth playing Darcy.

    Now you want an Austen book full of idiots, there's Mansfield Park, where the message seems to be "be a doormat and karma will reward you", or Northanger Abby where even the HERO thinks the heroine's a bit of a twit.
    I always liked that alot of the actors in the UK shows are so "ordinary" looking not botoxed beyond belief.

    I so like some of the P&P movies,Colin Firth is my favorite Mr.Darcy. As far as the books in general....I am more of a Wuthering Heights/Jane Eyre fan,they are more dark and tragic.Which I guess I prefer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrushka View Post
    I saw the US version once and it was awful.I used to record Coupling off of BBCAmerica.I need to buy the DVD's one of these days.

    Oh I remember those episodes lol...especially the "Junior Patrick" one.And the one where Susan shows everyone her breasts at the restaurant just to get it over and done with.
    And that was in the first episode! I honestly never even tried the US version but I've heard nothing but awful things about it. I cringe at the thought of Jeff or Jane played by different actors. It's the charm of the actors that make the characters more than "super awkward sex obsessed guy" and "psycho stalker ex-girlfriend". Oh and my favourite part of the "Junior Patrick" episode is when Steve's mother in law sends him bouquets and bouquets of flowers in thanks especially after giving Steve such a hard time about "whistling"

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    Quote Originally Posted by triple_toe View Post
    Oh and my favourite part of the "Junior Patrick" episode is when Steve's mother in law sends him bouquets and bouquets of flowers in thanks especially after giving Steve such a hard time about "whistling"
    LOL yeah! Or the one where the Welsh guy is supposed to meet up with his gf for a "surprise" and he gets all excited thinking he's going to get some,strips down and opens his eyes to find his Mum and all his co-workers. Or the one where he was trying to talk to that girl on the bus or train I can't remember which and he said "I like legs"...and went on to have to explain his explanation lol

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    Which failed even more miserably and ended up with him pretending to have a wooden leg, hence his leg obsession "You don't understand, I have the key to the gates of paradise only I've got too many legs!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Icetalavista View Post
    I'd be curious where the Brits among us would classify "Saturday Night Live" in the 'taking the piss out of' spectrum, "Frasier" in the upper-class-twit spectrum (but with a heart of gold who EVENTUALLY gets it), and "Northern Exposure", for general-absurdist comedy.

    I'd have to see the Amy Winehouse clip to see if I could discern irony or just plain meanness. Winehouse had her issues.

    I remember (in a Rolling Stone article) the producers of "Northern Exposure" talked about their love of British director Bill Forsythe's (sp?) films "Local Hero" and "Gregory's Girl" and the comedic tone of those films as inspiration for their program. "Northern Exposure" is my favorite tv show and "Local Hero" is one of my favorite films. If those are examples of the British humor we are talking about then count me in as an enthusiastic fan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by IceAlisa View Post
    I thought the Keira Knightly one made Mrs. Bennett as I imagined her, flustered, ridiculous and very willing to push both Lizzie and Lydia into bad marriages, hardly a loving and thoughtful mother.
    The father is usually sentimentalized. In the book he laughed and facetiously remarked about how lucky he was that Darcy and not his brother-in-law was his benefactor in the Lydia mess, as Darcy wouldn't expect him to pay him back. In the movies he is always humble and chastened.

    Sorry to get so far off topic. I've been reading a lot of 19th century female lit lately. It's appalling how repressive and boring their lives were, but it's like a trainwreck, I can't look away. Irony and sarcasm cover pain. Americans prefer to bitch out loud.

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