Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Continental Divide of Humor

The average American doesn't truly appreciate comedy from other countries.

When I was in elementary school (I cannot remember my exact age... somewhere between 7 and 10), I had a brilliant idea for a Halloween costume. I went as a "granny mountie", an oddball version of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police where I rode an old woman instead of a horse. It was borrowed from a skit I watched on Benny Hill. My classmates were confused. A few teachers nearly died laughing. I was thoroughly amused by myself.

Yes, I watched Benny Hill at that early of an age. I was truly a warped child. Yet the scantily-clad women apparently had no effect on me...

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household where I was exposed to many television choices unlike those of my peers. Instead of Dynasty, Beverly Hills 90210, Baywatch, and Melrose Place, I was watching Sherlock Holmes, Lovejoy (where my email and old paranormal group name, 'Moonspenders' is derived from), All Creatures Great and Small, Are You Being Served?, and one of my favorite physical comedy programs: Mr. Bean.

In recent years, Rowan Atkinson has finally become noticed by the general US public. He made a few Mr. Bean movies and starred as the misfit special agent in Johnny English. None of them seemed to appeal to a broad American audience, and that's truly a shame. Mr. Bean's Holiday was a hilarious film!

I'm not saying that Americans are the only ones who don't always find the humor in British humor and other comedy. Different styles appeal to different people. Nonetheless, Bob Smith the average Yankee doesn't quite understand why Monty Python or Kids in the Hall makes some people laugh. What's wrong with Saturday Night Live?

Sometimes, it's cultural differences. Unknown politics and celebrities. Even I am forced to admit that although I love the Australian program The Chasers War on Everything, occasionally I miss a joke because the name is not familiar. European comedy is most familiar. I try my best to keep up on foreign politics. I know all about Tony Blair (the bastard). I recognize that Jacques Chirac is no longer in office, and hasn't been since May of 2007 (et il est un homosexuel...). I know about the recent hate crime in Canberra, Australia. I know Brazil's economy is booming.

In short: I'm aware of the world around me.

Perhaps that's why I grasp the humor of other countries. And not just because I find America as humorous as they do...

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