40 British Memes And Posts That Perfectly Describe The People Who Live There
Humor is arguably Britain's finest export. It's bold, witty, and full of puns, and can knock you out almost instantly. In fact, hands down the funniest person I know is from Manchester, England. (He also wrote for Bored Panda, so if you've been reading us for long enough, you might even know who I'm talking about.)
So let's take a closer look at the culture that molds it. Spanning across multiple social media platforms, British Memes is an online project that paints a vivid picture of what everyday life looks like in this corner of the world.
English comedian Ricky Gervais, who co-wrote, co-produced, and starred in the hit BBC series The Office, which was on air for two years and adapted for a U.S. series for eight seasons, thinks that a good way to describe British humor is to juxtapose it to its American counterpart.
"It's often dangerous to generalize, but under threat, I would say that Americans are more 'down the line,'" Gervais wrote in TIME. "They don't hide their hopes and fears. They applaud ambition and openly reward success."
"Brits are more comfortable with life's losers. We embrace the underdog until it's no longer the underdog. We like to bring authority down a peg or two. Just for the hell of it," Gervais explained.
"Americans say, 'have a nice day' whether they mean it or not. Brits are terrified to say this. We tell ourselves it's because we don't want to sound insincere but I think it might be for the opposite reason. We don't want to celebrate anything too soon."
Gervais thinks Brits see failure and disappointment lurk around every corner. This is due to their upbringing. While Americans are raised to believe they can be the next president, Brits are told, "It won't happen for you."
The comedian also pointed out that while irony shows up in the smarter US comedies, Americans don't use it as much socially as Brits. "We use it as liberally as prepositions in everyday speech. We tease our friends. We use sarcasm as a shield and a weapon. We avoid sincerity until it’s absolutely necessary," he said. "We mercilessly take the piss out of people we like or dislike basically. And ourselves. This is very important. Our brashness and swagger is laden with equal portions of self-deprecation. This is our license to hand it out."
This, Gervais has found, is sometimes perceived as nasty by the 'recipients' who aren't used to such customs, but he reassured everyone that it isn't. "It’s play fighting," he explained. "It's almost a sign of affection if we like you, and ego bursting if we don't. You just have to know which one it is."
"I never actively try to offend. That's churlish, pointless and frankly too easy. But I believe you should say what you mean. Be honest. No one should ever be offended by truth. That way you'll never have to apologize. I hate it when a comedian says, 'Sorry for what I said.' You shouldn't say it if you didn't mean it and you should never regret anything you meant to do."
Another thing that the rest of the world may not know is that in the UK nothing and nobody is off-limits, so you will regularly see politicians being ridiculed and anybody in the public eye, including the Royal Family, is fair game.
No wonder satire is so popular in the UK. As Gervais briefly mentioned, Brits love humbling people when they get too arrogant and there have been many comedy shows dedicated to exactly this type of humor, including Have I Got News For You and Weekly Wipe.
But the UK has also had a number of hit sitcoms where pretty much nothing happens apart from everyday life. There are no knee-slapping moments but a lot of cringey situations when you cannot believe someone has done or said what they have.
These sitcoms are subtle but absurdly funny and ones worth watching are Gavin and Tracy, I'm Alan Partridge, and The Royle Family.