Not too long ago I was having a discussion with my friend about university. We were comparing the lecturers in our electrical physics course, and attempting to determine which was better by objectively considering the universally fundamental criteria that makes a good lecturer.

Funnyness and workload.1

By definition, a lecturer is good if he/she is funny, and doesn't do too much work - ie, move too fast in lectures, set ludicrously large assignments, etc. Oh sure, there's some other things that you might think is important, but when it comes down to the crunch, nothing else matters. Image is nothing. Thirst is Everything. Drink Sprite.

Anyway, my friend and I were faced with quite a dilemma indeed. One lecturer, one Gerald Milburn, was IMO, was a hilarious fellow who unfortunately set a fairly backbreaking pace. He had the wit, he had the style, he had the haircut - he was there. Often he would make amusing ribald off-handers that, if not hysterically funny certainly made the lectures bearable.

The other, the good Peter Drummond, was a pathetic sub-human with the sense of humour that lay somewhere between a 12 year old and a orangutang - he kept sprouting jokes you could see a mile away, and then was the only person in a 300-strong room to laugh hysterically - or at all for that matter. Truely one of those things that make you want to cringe internally His only real asset was the fact that he taught at a crawling pace.

Being the idealised defender of fun that I was, I had been relentlessly making vicious comments about the Drummond's sexual orientation (read: goat), when my friend, ever the slacker, contested that the former lecturer had absolutely no wit at all.

"I dunno what you don't like about this guy," he said, "At least he isn't such a hardass like the first one."

"True, old sport," I said, "But he's got an absolutely shocking sense of humor."2

"I guess, but the first one didn't have a very good one either." He pointed out.

"What piffle! Why Milburn was hilarious!" I was quick to contest.

"Bullshit," my coarse friend pointed out, "He had no sense of humour at all. At least this guy tries, if badly."

"Ah my uncultured friend," Said I, with a pitying shake of my head, "He had the wit"

"The wit?"

"The English wit" that said with finale, a tap on the side of the nose, and the tip of a hat.

Which brings me, a near page of mostly irrelevant spiel later, to the point of this node. Gather round, sit down and shut up, for this is a most important lesson.

The english wit is responsible for the last bastion of civilization against the relentless hordes of pop-culture American TV3. Where all others have fallen to the conglometorates and subsidiaries of the sinister evil corporation and those fucking adverts and telemall shopping, the English wit has prevailed!!!~!~@!@~

What is it? It is the sense of humor that is unique to the English - the dry wit, the ribald remarks, the other stuff I forget now. This is Englands most valuable commodity. For years the Russians, Chinese and Americans have sent ninja to attempt infiltrate the Britain to master the English wit. Their attempts were unsuccessful. They were dispatched by the secret ninja methods of the English wit.

In more practicable terms the English wit is the driving force behind the success of the great English comedies. Monty Python's Flying Circus, Black Adder, Fawlty Towers, The Thin Blue Line, Red Dwarf are but a few4. Actors such as John Cleese and Rowan Atkinson - these are the greats who need not fall to cheap stunts like shock value.

Just like America has the American Dream(albeit completely corrupted ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H slightly tainted), as Germany has industrial power, as Japan has technology, as New Zealand has sheep, and as Australia has... I dunno, Brian Harradine... England, bonnie old England, has the English wit.

Bravo for British Comedy

Addendum: gkAndy pointed out several inconsistencies in my referals to English/British film. In retrospect I realised I was probably referring to British filmography, but them's the breaks. Rumor has it that the Scottish are also quite funny. The British wit anyone?

The moral of this node, and the point I'm trying to make is that a lot of comedy television nowadays is deteriorating from wit to shock value. It's saddening to be constantly flooded with sitcoms that express the idea along the lines of "if I do a g-spot scene this will be funny! Ha! Aha!" Of course, seeing as I don't watch TV anymore I guess I wouldn't really know...

1I don't really believe that. Just assume for the context of this that I do.
2I don't really speak with an oldschool upperclass English accent either, I'm just feeling really bombastic right now.
3Some American television is good. Lots of it, infact ludicrously large proportions of it, however, is commercialised shite.
4 Read the most informative British comedy node for more. While I for one don't agree with all of them, there are many forgotten.

I have to agree with you about American comedy. The first time I watched Saturday Night Live, I remember watching it and wondering where the joke was... yes, you had schoolgirls shouting 'superstar' and guys trying to pick up people in bars, but there was no payoff. The joke was obvious from the very beginning... there was no framework violation because the strangeness was there from the beginning.

I believe that the English wit comes from two different sources. The first is that the English, historically, have championed the underdog. Knowing that in a race, there's only one uppity bastard who's going to win, somehow the English will identify more with the poor underappreciated saps who came in fifth of seventh. Therefore, in humour, jokes will tend more towards self-deprecation and will be more understated, because making a big deal out of how much of a loser you are would make you the #1 loser, and that would be equally as bad. (Yes, I know this is fucked up).

The second source is that the English are bastards. Nobody denies this, even the English themselves. And if there's any way to really fuck someone up (or make someone laugh), it's by saying something with a straight face which will force the other person to wonder if you're really serious or not. Some people think that the English are serious all the time: they're not. They're laughing at you, and you don't even know it. English people find this really funny.

In summary, the English are the only people who would invent Cricket, and then go on to invent Mornington Crescent.

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