What got you into British comedy?

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Imajica

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 8:15am [Edited]
  • Netherlands
  • 19 posts

A question in general but I guess mostly for the foreigners on the board :P So why do you like British comedy and what was your first encounter with British comedy ?

For me, in the 80s when I was 13 or so I had a friend who was from England and had moved to Holland. He had videotapes of Not The Nine O'Clock News, which was not on Dutch television at that time I think, but he showed us the videos and from that moment on I was hooked. It was something I had never seen before. Soon after that The Young Ones was aired on Dutch television, and again that was something I had never seen. This show was a revelation for me.
Of course I had seen Fawlty Towers and Monty Python before all this, but I was too young then to appreciate it.
Not The Nine O'Clock News and The Young Ones started it all for me.

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reds

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 11:00am [Edited]
  • Australia
  • 2,651 posts
Quote: Imajica @ October 14 2012, 8:15 AM BST

A question in general but I guess mostly for the foreigners on the board :P So why do you like British comedy and what was your first encounter with British comedy ?

Not sure what exactly I like about British comedy, I just find it funnier and more enjoyable than most other stuff.

I remember Mr Bean and Keeping up Appearances on telly when I was a kid, so guess that was the first ones I saw.

When I was older one of the first shows I really got into was The Catherine Tate Show (given your recent post in another thread, think we will have to agree to disagree). Also Extras which was on around the same time.

Since then I've seen a mixture of stuff from the last 40 years from Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em to Father Ted and The Mighty Boosh. All of which I really enjoy for various reasons.

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Gordon Bennett

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 12:03pm [Edited]
  • Basel, Switzerland
  • 19,105 posts

It started when I was a little boy in the 80s with Fawlty Towers on Swiss television although it had German dub. I enjoyed it a lot. And I heard about the great myth that British humour is 'something special' (this myth is spread across the non British world)
Years later there was this Mr. Bean histeria...but our English teacher (who was actually a Brit) told us that this was crap and showed us an episode of Blackadder Goes Forth, which he introduced to us as being the 'real thing'. And that started my interest in British humour. I ordered the complete Blackadder box set. There the appearances of Rik Mayall (as Flasheart) caught my attention so I had to order The Young Ones box set and later Bottom. The trailers to other shows led me to order Knowing Me, Knowing You...and other shows.
...and now I have a collection of about 30 or 40 shows covering years from 68 up until "Come Fly With Me" which is the most recent thing in my collection.
What I like about British comedy, apart from this mythical 'special humour' is the care that seems to go into production of these shows, at least with the classic ones. The fact that the writers are emotionally attached to their material unlike America where you have about 40 or 50 people who write for the same show and whose only goal is to get high viewing figures.

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Pingl

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 6:16pm
  • England
  • 4,818 posts
Quote: Gordon Bennett @ October 14 2012, 12:03 PM BST

It started when I was a little boy in the 80s with Fawlty Towers on Swiss television although it had German dub. I enjoyed it a lot. And I heard about the great myth that British humour is 'something special' (this myth is spread across the non British world)
Years later there was this Mr. Bean histeria...but our English teacher (who was actually a Brit) told us that this was crap and showed us an episode of Blackadder Goes Forth, which he introduced to us as being the 'real thing'. And that started my interest in British humour. I ordered the complete Blackadder box set. There the appearances of Rik Mayall (as Flasheart) caught my attention so I had to order The Young Ones box set and later Bottom. The trailers to other shows led me to order Knowing Me, Knowing You...and other shows.
...and now I have a collection of about 30 or 40 shows covering years from 68 up until "Come Fly With Me" which is the most recent thing in my collection.
What I like about British comedy, apart from this mythical 'special humour' is the care that seems to go into production of these shows, at least with the classic ones. The fact that the writers are emotionally attached to their material unlike America where you have about 40 or 50 people who write for the same show and whose only goal is to get high viewing figures.

It is an interesting point you make. I had never really thought of it in that way, the emotional attachment British writers have to their material as opposed to the US. I think that is a key difference. Ours remains more of a cottage industry.

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Gordon Bennett

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 6:20pm [Edited]
  • Basel, Switzerland
  • 19,105 posts
Quote: Pingl @ October 14 2012, 6:16 PM BST

It is an interesting point you make. I had never really thought of it in that way, the emotional attachment British writers have to their material as opposed to the US. I think that is a key difference. Ours remains more of a cottage industry.

In Britain it's usual to be creator, writer and executive producer in one person. You write every episode of a show...you have only 6 episodes per season which helps to maintain a certain quality. In short: it's your baby and you decide it's future. That's what makes British comedy special..at least for me.

In America you have an idea and sell it to a TV network. And they squeeze out all life off the show.
And Europe doesn't have a tradition of TV comedy worth mentioning. But there some really good full feature movies...take Jacques Tati for instance.

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Pingl

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 6:29pm [Edited]
  • England
  • 4,818 posts
Quote: Gordon Bennett @ October 14 2012, 6:20 PM BST

In Britain it's usual to be creator, writer and executive producer in one person. You write every episode of a show...you have only 6 episodes per season which helps to maintain a certain quality. In short: it's your baby and you decide it's future.

In America you have an idea and sell it to a TV network.

That is what I like about british comedy, it is the creators baby. They have tried the kind of corporate method here, My Family etc with a team of writers but somehow it never works well, except with formats like Not the Nine O Clock News. That kind of writing doesn't seem to suit our temperament, and that is with no disrespect to the US, who have produced some of my favourite shows, Mash, Fraser, Taxi etc.

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Gordon Bennett

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 6:39pm
  • Basel, Switzerland
  • 19,105 posts
Quote: Pingl @ October 14 2012, 6:29 PM BST

That is what I like about british comedy, it is the creators baby. They have tried the kind of corporate method here, My Family etc with a team of writers but somehow it never works well, except with formats like Not the Nine O Clock News. That kind of writing doesn't seem to suit our temperament, and that is with no disrespect to the US, who have produced some of my favourite shows, Mash, Fraser, Taxi etc.

Some of my favourites are American too. o it can work. But the problem with this system is that if the nework execs decide to add a neurotic, homosexual alien to the cast of Taxi there's is little the creator can do against this boneheaded decision. Also the feel of the jokes can vary from episode to episode depending on who wrote it. In a show like OFAH you know Sullivan writes every episode and does his best to keep the characters consistent and believable. And most American show overstays it's welcome if the ratings are ok. In Britain a creator can call it a day if he wants to...and that's often a good idea. A show like Fawlty Towers would have surely dropped in quality.

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Pingl

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 6:46pm
  • England
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Quote: Gordon Bennett @ October 14 2012, 6:39 PM BST

Some of my favourites are American too. o it can work. But the problem with this system is that if the nework execs decide to add a neurotic, homosexual alien to the cast of Taxi there's is little the creator can do against this boneheaded decision. Also the feel of the jokes can vary from episode to episode depending on who wrote it. In a show like OFAH you know Sullivan writes every episode and does his best to keep the characters consistent and believable. And most American show overstays it's welcome if the ratings are ok. In Britain a creator can call it a day if he wants to...and that's often a good idea. A show like Fawlty Towers would have surely dropped in quality.

Yes that is definitely an advantage, you can control both the tone and keep true to your original vision. I suppose it is the difference between tailored and factory made. Although I do think in the UK there is more and more management and corporate interference with every passing year, comedy is a commodity, and people like to milk it dry, it takes a brave man to walk away from a success, although it does still happen thank God.

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Gordon Bennett

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 6:53pm
  • Basel, Switzerland
  • 19,105 posts
Quote: Pingl @ October 14 2012, 6:46 PM BST

Yes that is definitely an advantage, you can control both the tone and keep true to your original vision. I suppose it is the difference between tailored and factory made. Although I do think in the UK there is more and more management and corporate interference with every passing year, comedy is a commodity, and people like to milk it dry, it takes a brave man to walk away from a success, although it does still happen thank God.

Yes, it's tragic. But that happens with every profession. So, it's sad that comedy gets more and more "economised" (even in Britain) but it's even sadder when it happens in medical care. Doctors who try to sell pharmaceutic products to you instead of really caring about your health...

But the BBC only tries to optimize its budget...but it's sad that the audience "buys" it...but I don't want to re-open the "I think Mrs. Brown's Boys is shit"-file again... :D

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Agnes Guano

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 7:23pm
  • Tediumcester, England
  • 541 posts

Oooh what a juicy question. For me it was a combination of old films such as the Carry Ons and Will Hay being on telly a lot more than they are now, as well as Radio 4 running old Hancock shows on a Sunday afternoon. I still obsess about all of those today. My parents let me stay up as a young kid to watch all manner of comedy shows so to a lesser extent those as well, even things like Not The Nine O'Clock news which I really can't have understood much of at the time.

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Imajica

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 7:31pm
  • Netherlands
  • 19 posts
Quote: Pingl @ October 14 2012, 6:16 PM BST

It is an interesting point you make. I had never really thought of it in that way, the emotional attachment British writers have to their material as opposed to the US. I think that is a key difference. Ours remains more of a cottage industry.

Yes, good point indeed !

Quote: Agnes Guano @ October 14 2012, 7:23 PM BST

Oooh what a juicy question. For me it was a combination of old films such as the Carry Ons and Will Hay being on telly a lot more than they are now, as well as Radio 4 running old Hancock shows on a Sunday afternoon. I still obsess about all of those today. My parents let me stay up as a young kid to watch all manner of comedy shows so to a lesser extent those as well, even things like Not The Nine O'Clock news which I really can't have understood much of at the time.

Ah yes, the Carry Ons.. I remember watching Carry On Cleo when I was kid, I thought it was hilarious. It's the only one I've ever watched though.

Off topic: wow, smart board. Did I just see two separate quotes I did automatically put in one ??

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Aaron

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 7:45pm
  • Royal Berkshire, England
  • 68,287 posts

British friends of mine currently over in the US tell me that networks are less interfering than in Britain.

Quote: Imajica @ October 14 2012, 7:31 PM BST

Off topic: wow, smart board. Did I just see two separate quotes I did automatically put in one ??

Yes.

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Pingl

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 8:14pm
  • England
  • 4,818 posts
Quote: Aaron @ October 14 2012, 7:45 PM BST

British friends of mine currently over in the US tell me that networks are less interfering than in Britain.

Yes.

We always used to pride ourselves that British television was the best in the world. looking back now, when was this golden age? were we fooling ourselves, because the best of what the US created stands up to much of ours at any time. Of course very different in style, but were we ever better? I'm not sure anymore.

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Imajica

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 8:28pm
  • Netherlands
  • 19 posts
Quote: Pingl @ October 14 2012, 8:14 PM BST

We always used to pride ourselves that British television was the best in the world. looking back now, when was this golden age? were we fooling ourselves, because the best of what the US created stands up to much of ours at any time.

Can you give some examples, Pingl ?

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Pingl

  • Sunday 14th October 2012, 8:34pm
  • England
  • 4,818 posts
Quote: Imajica @ October 14 2012, 8:28 PM BST

Can you give some examples, Pingl ?

It was kind of the stock state of mind in the seventies. Clive James crafted a whole career at laughing at foreign TV. That was until our TV became as ludicrous, Big Brother etc. BBC costume dramas, classic adaptations, sitcoms, even ITV with Brideshead etc. But the thing is, I look back on the best of US output and it is every way as good. Taxi, Cheers, Mash, Columbo, Mission Impossible, Maverick I could go on and on. But in this country we had the feeling we were superior I was just thinking was it all in our over inflated egos.