Tag Archives: British TV

Richard Ayoade is British Humour

BWAD-Twitter-R-Ayoade-is-British-Humor-Blog-PostRichard Ayoade, the last name pronounced “eye-oh-WA-dee” has proven to be the epitome of British humour. He’s clever, articulate, and sarcastic all while wearing a dead-pan expression. This infusion of comedic traits is the reason why Anglophiles love British humour and consume large amounts of British TV to get their fix. To the uneducated or overly-sensitive, this manner of humour can be quite off-putting or even seem rude. To the scoffers, well, they just flat out hate it. The following are some examples of how Richard deftly depicts this British humour we Anglophiles dearly love. If you haven’t seen these British TV shows, I have one word for you. YouTube.

The IT CROWD

My first baptism of Richard’s particular humour was through the popular British TV sitcom, The IT Crowd. Being an IT geek for 14 years, I could very much relate to his viewpoint of the world and reaction to it. His character, Maurice Moss, was the butt end of jokes and the victim of constant teasing or bullying. Moss’s branded appearance was the crux of his IT nerd persona and how computer techs are viewed by everyone else outside this sphere. Despite Moss’ social impotence and lack of fashion sense, he displayed moments of rapier wit, showcasing his intelligence beyond RAM and motherboards. I quote the famous Maurice Moss line which encapsulates Richard’s grasp of humour via this character: “I came here to drink milk and kick ass, and I’ve just finished my milk.”

Gadget Man

As I began to view more of Richard’s work, this embodiment of British humour became even more evident. I literally stumbled across the Gadget Man, originally hosted by Stephen Fry, on YouTube and was immediately hooked. The geek poster child, with his fuzzy hair, thick-rimmed glasses, and nasal voice, Richard  Ayoade personifies the obsession technology nerds have with gadgets to simplify life in every conceivable way. Slightly ridiculous and done for effect, Richard portrays the British aloofness and sarcasm in all of its glory, while he pokes fun at this widely-accepted stereotype. Of course, geeks and nerds of every nationality can identify with this requirement to reduce human contact to its bare minimum. However, Ayoade uses his words, regularly inclusive of British slang, and witty sarcasm to convey British humour at its finest.

Travel Man: 48 Hours in…

Like any properly cynical nerd, travel is viewed as a complete bother and something to be bitterly endured. This accounts for the frequent whinging throughout the show. Therefore, if this type goes on holiday, brevity is what’s called for and no mistake. Richard’s approach to this way of traveling, within 48 hours, is another avenue to demonstrate the sarcastic British humour we know and love. Keep calm and carry on then let’s have done with it. While we’re at it, we must take the mickey out of everyone and in every situation we possibly can. After all, we are British. It’s what we do.

Personal Proof

I have a good friend, also British and named Richard, who regularly demonstrates this humour for which I am utterly bemused. Once, on my Facebook wall, he posted some snarky comments about a particular subject I raised. Unfortunately, it distressed another friend of mine but all the while, I’m cracking up laughing. An apology to my friend as no injury was meant.

My friend Richard will regularly take the mickey out of his Septic friends or Americans in general, especially when it comes to sports. Do not be fooled. He has a great love for us Yanks, despite his regular protestation. Besides, a tell-tale sign that you are liked by or even amused by a Brit is through the showering of rhetorical and sarcastic verbal jabs. If you are ignored, then you are disliked or possibly even detested. As I’ve said before, British humour is like opera. You either love it or you hate it. It’s their way, take it or leave it.

Do You Enjoy British Humour?

While this reflection on British humour might be offensively stereotypical to Britons, it is a pure delight to the avid Anglophile who comprehends and even encourages more of the same. Have any British friends? Noticed some of this same quirky sarcasm? Do you enjoy British humour? Log in below and post your comments below.


 

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Why We Love British TV

It’s the Accent and the Stories They Tell

Truth be told, we Anglophiles love to watch keep-calm-and-watch-british-tv-smBritish television, or telly as it’s called, for the regular access we have to that beautiful British accent. However, if your repertoire of British TV is quite diverse, you may have discovered the rougher London Cockney dialect as used by Mr. Guppy in Bleak House, for example. Then there is the thick, often hard to understand, northern dialects uttered by the inhabitants of Yorkshire like Mrs. O’Brien in Downton Abbey. Whether you prefer the genteel or brash, the British accent is one of the biggest reasons why Anglophiles watch British telly over and over.

Another chief reason we watch British TV shows repeatedly, is the way these stories unfold that draw in both the closet and flagrant Anglophile. The often irreverent British comedy like the IT Crowd (for the geeks) or Miranda (for the socially awkward), leave you in stitches for their outlandish physical comedy (oh yeah, they go there) or the carefully crafted one-liners that you love to quote. Of course, you secretly root for the underdog character, with their often awkward and idiosyncratic traits, because you know you’re just like them.

For Me, It Was the Language

Ever since I was a child, I adored movies with British themes or British actors. Yes, I was immediately gripped with the accent but when I reached adulthood, it was the differences in our shared language that truly piqued my interest. As a writer, I am addicted to words so I made it my mission to find out what these British slang words meant.

It began years ago, with a friend and a colleague (co-worker to you) who is a Kiwi (New Zealander) and familiar with loads of British telly. I peppered him with questions to which he happily gave me answers. Based on my eager interest, he began making recommendations which I was delighted to explore. I became even more deeply immersed into the culture and language of British TV shows, and discovered period pieces are my favorite genre. These compelling and beautifully-rendered programs were littered with all these quirky British words that I would have had never noticed as a child. I was utterly fascinated.

British Period Dramas

I could watch a BBC British period dramas any day of the week, multiple times. For the most part, the British dialects in these miniseries are so elegant and refined, it makes one fall in love with British English again and again. However, you can count on hearing those rougher dialects of the north and London Cockney in any Dickens novel turned television show. For me, it is the British words that I listen for and I do have a knack for remembering TV and movie lines. Here a few from my favorite British period TV dramas that do use British slang.

  • Dr. Who – “I am definitely a mad man with a box!” ~ The Doctor
  • Call the Midwife – “It’s coming out arse-first.” ~ Chummy Browne
  • Downton Abbey – “Seems a pity to miss such a good pudding.” ~Violet aka Granny
  • Foyle’s War – “The whole country preparing for a giant knees up and once again you’re stuck with the body in the library.” ~Andrew Foyle

British Comedy

Although there is some British slang used in these period dramas, it’s the BBC British comedies that are absolutely littered with these quirky and intriguing words. Here are a few of my favorite lines that include British words.

  • Miranda – “Oh! Major Disaster and his friend Colonel Cock-up.” ~Tilly
  • IT Crowd – “Why don’t we just, well, bunk off and make a day of it.” ~Roy
  • Vicar of Dibley – “Get off your knees, you total tosser!” ~Geraldine Granger
  • Jeeves & Wooster – “Spode said he would beat me into a jelly.” ~Bertie Wooster

Why Do You Love British Telly?

Now that I’ve shared my love of British TV, what specifically do you love about these shows? Do you prefer dramas, comedies, or period pieces? Do you find some of the dialogue hard to understand because of the strong dialects? Use subtitles on your DVDs or during the online streaming of these programs? I would love to hear your thoughts on all things British telly!


 

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