50 Memes To Bring A Taste Of British Humor To Your Screen (New Pics)
The UK has its own breed of humor and what gets a Brit laughing may leave outsiders scratching their heads.
Heavy on self-deprecation, almost undetectable sarcasm, and constant deadpan delivery, it can feel like a totally different language.
But fear not, we’ve put together a new piece about the social media magazine 'British Memes' to help you understand (and use!) their jokes just as effectively as they do.
So continue scrolling and happy learning!
From Shakespeare’s comedies to Billy Connolly’s command of an audience, Gavin & Stacey’s taste of Welsh whimsy to Derry Girls’ earthy look at life in the 1990s, humor has been central to the history of storytelling across the UK for a very long time.
But if you ask an academic to come up with a description for British humor, they will most likely run into some trouble.
Dr. Ian Wilkie, a lecturer in performance at the University of Salford, said: “Having taught younger American students, they take the British sense of humor to be Monty Python, by which they mean a sort-of slightly erring towards the surreal, very iconoclastic in terms of attacking the big targets, very silly.”
However, Wilkie said that, while those traits can become shorthand for ‘the British sense of humor’, he doesn’t think “that cuts the mustard.”
Dr. Wilkie highlighted that there are already differences in popular humor in the four home nations. It diversifies even more between the major cities, making it difficult to pinpoint a blanket ‘British’ humor.
One example is the Scottish brash-with-a-twinkle style of Billy Connolly or the more gentle approach of his compatriot Susan Calman. “Scottish people like witty jokes, there is a lot of respect for learning and that it likes quite hard-hitting jokes, ones of mockery,” Wilkie explained.
While he noted there are similarities between Glaswegian humor and that found in other port cities, such as Liverpool, that Scottish style might not necessarily translate into a Welsh sense of humor or a broader English one.
Attending a comedy night, with many different acts, would show how difficult it is to categorize humour along geographical lines.humor
“You may laugh at different aspects of their schtick, but it would then be difficult to say, ‘well, there’s a British sense of humour’ because of the disparate kind of approaches and world views coming across.”
Another element worth considering is how much the humor of other countries has influenced British comedy.
If you’ve sat and enjoyed the exaggerated characters in Fawlty Towers, the characters and scrapes they find themselves in reflect the sketches of the Commedia dell’arte, a form of theatre from 16th Century Italy.
Among other elements, it involved a series of recognizable characters from all aspects of society engaged in witty dialogue.
Surrealism, long considered a staple of British humor was, as Dr. Wilkie describes it, performed by: “Dadaists from countries that we may choose not to think of as particularly funny, such as Germany."
“They were doing surrealism to the nth degree, quite deliberately as a performative art, in the early part of the 20th Century. I think it’s something we like to appropriate in a way and imagine that we’re the custodians of it, but it’s not culturally specific at all.”
With Monty Python held up as a good example of leftfield humor from the UK, the Carry On… series of films suggests a national affection for a less sophisticated bawdiness loaded with double entendres.
While they did enjoy popularity outside the country (Carry On Nurse ran in Los Angeles for more than two-and-a-half years on its initial release), Dr. Humor Wilkie doesn’t see the humor contained within the 30 titles of the franchise as something that defines a nation.
“Carry On… kind of made fun of itself in its day, it was already slightly self-consciously old-fashioned and seaside postcard, but people could enjoy it because they could say, all bets are off really, we’re going to see something that’s sexist, end of the pier and a bit silly and that was fine,“ Dr. Wilkie explained.
It’s these different styles and presentations of comedy by British performers that. Dr. Wilkie believes make it impossible for an academic to point, with confidence, at various elements and state categorically that they alone make up the nation’s famed sense of humor.
“No, I wouldn’t say there is a British sense of humor,” he concluded. “I think the best you can hope for is some big, beacon terms (eg. sarcasm, understatement, self-deprecation), that maybe, over a fair amount of time, might hold water."
“Comedy and humor have always been so open to counter-examples that you can never really pin anything down. It’s like trying to nail jelly to a wall.”
However, if you'd like to see more 'British Memes,' fire up our first publication on this fun little project.