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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: June ::
Re: American and British Humor
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0460.  Friday, 9 June 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Pam Powell <
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        Date:   Thursday, 8 Jun 1995 16:52:14 GMT +2:00
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0457  Re: American and British Humor
 
(2)     From:   Robert C. Evans <
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        Date:   Thursday, 8 Jun 1995 10:11:39 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0453 Re: American and British Humor
 
(3)     From:   David Jackson <
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        Date:   Thursday, 08 Jun 95 12:34:35 est
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0457  Re: American and British Humor
 
(4)     From:   An Sonjae <
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        Date:   Friday, 9 Jun 1995 09:23:36 +0900 (KST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0457 Re: American and British Humor; Miss-Begetting
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pam Powell <
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Date:           Thursday, 8 Jun 1995 16:52:14 GMT +2:00
Subject: 6.0457  Re: American and British Humor
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0457  Re: American and British Humor
 
Here! Here! Benny Hill is not British humour in my opinion.
 
Pam Powell
South Africa (but British)
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robert C. Evans <
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Date:           Thursday, 8 Jun 1995 10:11:39 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 6.0453 Re: American and British Humor
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0453 Re: American and British Humor
 
Dear Colleagues:
 
I will soon be teaching a course in humor and satire and wondered if any of you
had any suggestions about readings to include.  To narrow the question a bit, I
am specifically interested in non-dramatic works (especially poems and short
stories) that will really excite genuine laughter but that also have literary
merit.  Please don't hesitate to mention titles that may seem obvious to you.
Right now I am planning to give heavy emphasis to Chaucer, Donne, Jonson,
Twain, and Flannery and Frank O'Connor.  Thanks for any help!
 
Robert C. Evans (Bob)

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(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Jackson <
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Date:           Thursday, 08 Jun 95 12:34:35 est
Subject: 6.0457  Re: American and British Humor
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0457  Re: American and British Humor
 
I realize that this is off on a bit of a tangent, so I won't belabor it, but I
feel that someone must speak up for the late Benny Hill. Certainly, his later
work (after he became popular beyond Britain, in the U.S. and Australia) tended
to aim toward the lowest common denominator (people in states of undress,
"naughty" puerile nudge-nudge wink-wink jokes, etc.), but his earlier stuff
(while certainly not highbrow) could be quite amusing, especially his songs
(which sometimes employed a mixture of satire, pathos, and wordplay that WS
himself might appreciate). I once played Touchstone and I remember someone
remarking that the portrayal had some Benny Hill qualities (I don't think this
was intended as an insult); while I didn't have him in mind when developing the
character, I could certainly see the merits of the analogy.
 
Anyway, my point is: don't judge BH just by the trashy excerpts you saw on
American TV or the final work he did to capitalize on his later fame; also,
bear in mind that he used irony, inuendo, double-entendre and bawdiness, just
as did Monty Python, Joe Orton, Noel Coward, Chaucer and WS; they just
sometimes have different styles. I would say that "British humor" is a nebulous
phrase, but it certainly encompasses a long tradition of men in drag, men
without trousers, women in underwear, and bodily functions, just as much as
irony and witty repartee.
 
I recall a BH sketch in which he (Newhart-style) portrayed WS' agent on the
telephone to WS, asking him about the commercial viablilty of his plays.
 
I also recall my English teacher's introductory remarks about Hamlet when I was
16: "This is a play about many things, including sex - which is not only great
fun, but also very funny."
 
So much for the state of British schooling (I believe Margaret Thatcher was
Education Minister at the time)
 
David Jackson
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           An Sonjae <
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Date:           Friday, 9 Jun 1995 09:23:36 +0900 (KST)
Subject: 6.0457 Re: American and British Humor; Miss-Begetting
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0457 Re: American and British Humor; Miss-Begetting
 
On a more literary level than Benny Hill I would be very interested to hear
what have been the American responses to the poetry of Wendy Cope? Her first
book of poems was called "Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis" which is pretty
Kultur-spezifisch, her second "Serious Concerns" has me rolling in fits yet the
title is absolutely right, these are really serious poetic statements. National
stereotyping of any kind is surely a waste of time, and can loose British
ministers their jobs but in terms of reception theory we can surely ask whether
a best-selling British poet has the same impact elsewhere and if not why not? I
certainly feel a rough edge in British attitudes to Life that seems to be
smothered in sugar across the Atlantic. An Sonjae
 
Sogang University, Seoul, Korea

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