lakingsif on Dec 11th 2017 at 5:01:55 PM
Last Edited By:
lakingsif on Dec 27th 2017 at 7:53:43 AM
Page Type: trope
Describe British Humour here. Good, 'cause I can't explain it.
The first rule of British humour is to mock the monarchy and/or Establishment, but in a loving and reverent way. Generally known as satire, there's at least a little bit of truth there. Nobody wants to be a posh twat, do they?
The second rule of British humour is to switch to Sarcasm Mode at every available opportunity. To expand: humour is the default setting of British conversation, unless it absolutely needs to be serious.
British humour is often said to go over the heads of everyone else in the world, likely because it's far too sophisticated and pretentious for anybody to really understand, but the British being British all individually decided to pretend like they do, coming up with smart and sarcastic sounding nonsense to keep the game up all these years.
Yeah, that's probably why nobody else really gets it. The Brits are just a bunch of sarcastic arseholes, really.
The ability to be so flippant about the quality of life — absurdities of reality, existential dread, self-loathing, and how morbidly crap the UK is are generally the largest targets of British humour — probably stems from the fact that, for a lot of history, it wasn't actually bad at all. With stability in real life, you can very well take the piss out of your conditions and it doesn't really wound the soul. Then, when real life actually turned to shit come the highly unprecedented political divisions suddenly appearing and climate change or something fucking the place up, satirical humour became a refuge to well in despair, but with a smile.
What probably makes it really hard to master is the fact that it is a reactive kind of comedy stemming from broad self-referential humour, and with an audience-dependent choice to be made regarding delivery. A completely accurate and innocuous statement delivered very seriously in appropriate circumstances can be quintessential British humour if it's all in place. One thing that makes this possible is perhaps the nigh-National consciousness and intimate knowledge of items and issues, and a shared sense of humour, reliant on the British society being so small and unique, and the general concerns of the nation amounting to high interest in general education and politics.
The most confusing part about British humour (besides all of it) has to be the fact that it isn't comedy. Comedy and humour are quite different, and British humour is more amusing quips in regular conversation than a joke shop. You don't laugh (and have you ever seen a British person laugh and look respectable at the same time? It's impossible, so they developed a humour that prevents the shame of guffaw), except a little. Since a lot of the structures and ideas don't translate well, either, this really means that there are zero indications of humour for foreigners, who usually think their British company is batting non-sequiters between each other for no good reason. Whatever, loser.
British humour has been present in works that we still have access to today since there was British work that we still have access to today. That makes Beowulf, composed around 700 CE, the Ur-Example, and subsequently showing British humour as older than the concept of zero. Given that nowadays the concept and practice of British humour would solidly fall under meta-postmodernism, being as old as it is it could well have invented the stylistic wave of proto-meta-postmodernist-anti-nihilism, which sounds like bullshit and probably is.
British humour can be said to exploit a version of Poe's Law in a way: you've got to be in on the practice to really understand if someone is being serious or being funny. It's like a really big In-Joke.
Common elements of British humour that have tropes. Just don't try too hard or you come off as only slightly less pathetic than if you'd actually done it well:
- Accent Depundent
- Accentuate the Negative
- Big-Lipped Alligator Moment
- Biting-the-Hand Humour
- Black Comedy
- Brevity Is Wit
- Brick Joke
- Cannot Tell a Joke
- The Comically Serious
- The Cynic
- Deadpan Snarker
- Double Entendre
- Gallows Humour
- Genius Bonus
- Hypocritical Humour
- Incredibly Lame Pun
- Insult Backfire
- Insult of Endearment
- Juxtaposition Gag
- Literal Gag
- Literalist Snarking
- Loads and Loads of Roles
- Major Injury Underreaction
- Multiple Reference Pun
- "No" Means "Yes"
- Purple Prose
- Sarcasm Mode
- Separated by a Common Language
- Sir Swears-a-Lot
- Snark-to-Snark Combat
- Sophisticated as Hell — you mean it's not funny combining an affected RP dialect with copious curses?
- Subverted Punchline
- Surreal Humour
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight
- Who's on First?
See also: Cards Against Humanity. The basis for this game (especially in the ways it is unlike Apples to Apples) can be seen as the way that statement formulation can be a part of British humour — just about current affairs (instead of, say, Daniel Radcliffe's asshole), like Daniel Radcliffe's arsehole.
And, because they've got to be special, someone did an actual study proving that the understanding of, and inclination towards, negative humour (biting statements, teasing, self-deprecation) is not only in the genes of British people, but also not in anyone else's. Sorry, I've got to, my mum gave me these genes.
Here's a flavour, don't worry, we won't charge:
Sample of works that it is often present in:
- Black Mirror
- Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy
- Comic Relief
- Count Duckula
- Doctor Who
- Eurovision Song Contest (British broadcast, except for that one year when the rest of Europe found the stadium narration of Graham Norton so funny that they put him on for everyone)
- Four Lions
- Garth Marenghis Darkplace
- The Goodies
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
- I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue
- The Last Leg
- Mock the Week
- Monty Python
- My Family
- Nighty Night
- Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy
- The Office (yes, the American version. No.)
- Private Eye
- That Was the Week That Was
- Victoria Wood:
- Everything that airs on Channel 4
Oh, and taking the piss out of America.
Don't worry, it grows on you.
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