H is for Humour

Posted April 9, 2014 in Blog Fests & Hops, Entertainment / 1 Comment

Today I’m continuing with the A-Z Blogging Challenge. The aim is to write a post for every day of the month except for Sundays, with each post representing a different letter of the alphabet. This year I’m doing an A-Z of Great Britain, covering as much as I can about British music, literature, TV and film, food, wildlife and culture.

For the letter ‘H’ I have chosen Humour. Much like our standards of etiquette, British humour can be hard for ‘non-natives’ to grasp. There’s no ‘magic formula’ for what British people find funny-we’re all different and amused by anything and everything. But generally speaking, British humour tends to focus on silly slapstick, witty wordplay and steely sarcasm.

We love a little banter and much of our daily conversation is laced with irony, which sometimes baffles non-Brits who find it hard to tell when we’re being serious and when we’re being sarcastic. This is probably because most sarcastic comments are said in a very straight, dry tone, rather than an obvious ‘snarky’ voice. We’re known for a more subtle brand of humour, generally preferring innuendo and the double-entendre to a brash sex reference (although this is beginning to change with TV shows like The Inbetweeners becoming more and more popular). Although I’ve always loved The Simpsons, it took me a while to get into shows like Family Guy and South Park, which are filled with toilet humour, expletives and violence and aren’t afraid to openly joke about all manner of controversial topics. Sometimes I really enjoy those kind of shows, whilst other times I just want to settle down to a tame, cosy classic.

I’ve decided to share with you a few clips from some of my favourite British comedy series. Some I hope you’re already familiar with, others you may not have heard of. Here goes:

*Warning, some of these clips may contain strong language or mild sexual references*

Monty Python

The pinnacle of silliness and surrealism. This is what happens when a group of highly intelligent Oxford and Cambridge chums get together to write sketches. A lot of witty banter, ridiculous slapstick and catchy songs with brilliant lyrics. Utter madness or complete genius?

Red Dwarf

This sci-fi comedy show is something of a cult classic. Dave Lister, a down-to-earth guy (and something of a slob) finds himself stranded alone on the spaceship Red Dwarf after the crew are wiped out in a freak radiation accident. He only survived due to being in ‘stasis’ (suspended animation) for 3 million years. He later find out he isn’t quite alone, and is gradually joined by a cast of amusing misfits, including a ‘super computer’ that’s lost his marbles, a neurotic mechanoid, an uptight hologram and a feline/humanoid life-form which evolved from descendants of his pregnant cat! I definitely recommend this if a comedy featuring far-out plots, hilarious banter, Star Trek parodies and Doctor Who-style monsters appeals to you.


Blackadder (featuring comedy genius Rowan Atkinson) was not only riotously funny but also educational, as each series focused on a different time period from 1485 to 1917. Beneath all the wordplay, puns and general silliness was a brilliant political and historical satire. The ending of Blackadder Goes Forth, in which WW1 soldier’s finally go ‘over the top’ is one of the most poignant TV moments I’ve ever seen. I think it was brave a comedy show to do it that way and the tragedy hit home even more since the rest of the series had been so hilarious.

The Vicar of Dibley

This hilarious and heart-warming show was about a larger-than-life female Vicar (played by the brilliant Dawn French) moving to the quaint fictional village of ‘Dibley’, with its cast of well-meaning and likeable village oddities. Watching this program will give you quite a good idea of what life is like in rural England! My favourite episode is where the Vicar accidentally agrees to have Christmas dinner with several of her friends on the same day because she’s too polite to turn them all down.

The IT Crowd

This is one of my more modern favourites, about the daily lives of a group of IT professionals (“Have you tried turning it off and on again?”) and the funny situations that they get into. The character of Moss makes it for me.

Black Books

This series, starring Dylan Moran, Tamsin Greig and Bill Bailey, was set in a London book shop. Moran plays a belligerent and hostile shopkeeper called Bernard, who hates the outside world and is constantly rude to customers. He uses the book shop like a personal library and sits around smoking and drinking all day while chaos ensures around him. He’s probably the person I would become if I could get away with it!

What do you think of the TV shows I mentioned? What’s your favourite British comedy series?

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