British Humor as I Have Known It

I like British humor. My favorite British show in recent years is Upstart Crow and I keep hoping there will be a fourth season, but it’s not looking good. Upstart Crow is a very irreverent look at the Old Bard who was sometimes a bit of a wankington.

My all-time favorite is probably Father Ted. The premise is that all the really bad Irish priests are exiled to small islands. The two main characters of Fr. Ted are (no surprise) Father Ted and a young priest, Father Dougal. There’s also a drunken, lecherous, insane priest, Father Jack.

Of course, in the dim mists of time, there was Monty Python’s Flying Circus and the subsequent films.

The world recently lost one of the Pythons, Terry Jones. Not only a brilliant comic, but a brilliant medievalist. It wasn’t until I became a medievalist myself that I realized how authentic Monty Python and the Holy Grail is in so many ways — the political philosophy of medieval village life, the injuries caused by hand-held weapons, the absurdity of courtly love, the dramatic notion of male courage, forests fraught with danger, the persistence of magic, the power of the Grail. Now I get it. Reality is makes comedy funny.

20 thoughts on “British Humor as I Have Known It

  1. Of course I can only agree. Even Mr. Swiss enjoys English humour. He has to, he married me. I still remember the old British radio shows, The goon show with Spike Milligen and of course Hancock’s Half Hour (which was later televised) with Tony Hancock.

  2. My kids used to love “Jeeves and Wooster”. Once, as we were rewinding the tape, “House” came on TV. The kids were amazed at Hugh Laurie’s amazing American accent. (He played the buffoon Bertie Wooster opposite Stephen Fry as Jeeves, his much smarter butler.)

  3. Love British humor, the movies (including all of the Monty Python movies) and TV shows, especially the older stuff such as Keeping Up Appearances, Mr. Bean, and Fawlty Towers, which of course had Monty Python alum John Cleese. P G Wodehouse has been a fav author forever, including his Jeeves and Bertie Wooster characters.

  4. Terry also caught the mood of the peasantry. They were, by the fourteenth century, REALLY pissed off. When most of humanity got knocked off by the plague, they said “Screw the nobility” and became the middle class. Go, peasants!

  5. I had never experienced British humor until college when I was introduced to Benny Hill. I was shocked and confused. It took me a while to figure out what was going on… I do enjoy some stuff – I loved Fawlty Towers and never laughed so hard as when watching Coupling. As a parent I made sure to introduce the boys to Monty Python to make sure they had a well rounded education. I think I did a good job.

  6. Thanks for participating in yesterday’s prompt. Sorry I haven’t gotten around to commenting until now. And at that I can’t say much, because Jeeves and Wooster is all I recognize here. I’m old —think, “The Saint.” 😉

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