Humour is dead

October 7, 2008

I see that the (to me incredibly unfunny yet) incredibly popular UK TV Comedy sketch show “Little Britain” is currently attempting to break into America. But rather than just show existing episodes the cast have to create new USA-centric characters. American TV execs have so little faith in their viewers ability to cope with British TV shows that they usually have to be re-written or totally re-done in an American context. Yet we are quite able to take an American sitcom (or even soap opera) as it is and comprehend what is going on no matter how different the situations portrayed are to our lifestyles. In the States a sitcom usually consists of a verbal tennis match of one-liners written by a team of script writers. Our comedy TV shows are usually written by just one person with the comedy (often mixed with pathos) coming from the situation itself as exemplified by “One foot in the grave” with its catchphrase “I don’t believe it!”.

I know the past is a different country but even so I pause to marvel how bizzarre it seems that people could make a career out of a “catch phrase”. None of these phrases are inherently funny and yet at the time….
Can I do you now sir?
Don’t panic!
Stupid boy!
It’s the way I tell ’em.
I’m free.
Am I bovvered?
Mr Grimsdale! etc etc

The oddest catchphrase was “Where’s Me Shirt?” which Ken Dodd used in his mid 1960s Radio show. Ken is approaching 81 years old yet still tours with his 4 hour stream of consciousness saying things like:-
“What a beautiful day missus. What a beautiful day for sticking a cucumber through someone’s letterbox and shouting ‘Help,help,the martians have landed’ .”