Why British Comedy is the Best

'In the disheartening era of Grand Overlord Trump and #MeToo', Beth Chrisp explains why British comedy is needed (and the best)

Beth Chrisp
12th March 2018
Image Credit: Mark Granier (Wikimedia Commons)

First of all, I’m not here to crap all over the rest of the world’s comedy. We need comedy, especially in the disheartening era of Grand Overlord Trump and #MeToo, so how about a special shout out to the outstanding contribution of our funny brethren?

Parks and Recreation did something practically unprecedented in comedy by introducing us to a group of characters we’d actually want to be friends with, as well as being one of the funniest shows on TV and Always Sunny in Philadelphia takes the cake in cringe inducing “oh no they didn’t” comedy. If we number crunch this bad-boy (fun, right?) then we have to give a tip of the hat (in fact we’d probably have to give him the entire hat and our coat too) to Egypt’s Bassem Youssef, a satirist described as Egypt’s Jon Stewart. When Stewart was attracting an audience of almost 2 million, Youssef drew an audience of 30 million people amidst a political revolution. 30 million people don’t tune in if you’re just kind of chuckle-worthy.

There's no denying that Britain produces some of the darkest and weirdest comedy around

One reason I believe British comedy has an edge on the competition is the geography of our tiny little island, we’re small and fiercely defensive of our diminutive regions and their corresponding identities. Wherever we’re from in the UK we can find something that looks like home in a sitcom or a sketch show. Every family has an Anthony Royle and every girl has had a friend like Laura in Him & Her at one point. Speaking as a Northerner, nobody could be more important than Victoria Wood, her sketch shows, sitcom Dinnerladies and stand-up illuminated the North, gave it heart and warmth and subverted the media’s derisive dismissal that it was unremittingly grim up North.

While we like to show you how genial we are up North there’s no denying the fact that Britain produces some of the darkest and weirdest comedy around, Julia Davis, step forward please. Davis is the Queen of uncomfortable, pitch-black comedy, skewering British sensibilities. A frequent collaborator of Steve Coogan, she takes his delighting in the uncomfortable 6 or 7 steps further, creating Nighty Night, Camping and Human Remains.

We've housed some of the greatest comedy minds in this country from John Cleese to Jo Brand

Camping is now being remade in America by none other than Girls’ Lena Dunham. The infinite and inferior remakes of British shows for a U.S audience are proof alone that we’re doing something right. The Office U.S was a monster hit but I will fight you if you try to argue that it is better than the original, Gervais combined the tragedy with the comedy and the … Britishness so perfectly. Just look at the number of failed remakes, the Gavin & Stacey remake wasn’t even aired and The Inbetweeners U.S was cancelled after one season, British comedy has something indefinable that sets it apart.

We’ve housed some of the greatest comedy minds in this country from John Cleese to Douglas Adams, from Jo Brand to Armando Iannucci. The list is endless and it makes you proud to live on the same strange little Island.

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