British Sense of Humour Explained
Article by Link School of English in London
Perhaps you are an English learner trying to understand English jokes and sense of humour? Do you find British humour odd or not funny at all?
I recently saw British humour described as an oxymoron… I beg to differ; just because something doesn’t fit the norm, is different, unique, or has a culture of it’s own doesn’t mean it isn’t valid or isn’t funny. However, to an ‘out-sider’ I can see why some might think this.
Sarcasm and self-depreciation in British humour
British sense of humour is often associated with sarcasm, irony and self-deprecation (or putting one’s self down). Witty, mocking or dry remarks are casually slipped into conversations. There is no warning sign that the person is now joking, and because it is so sarcastic, it often leaves non-Brits unsure about whether what was just said was just some harmless humour, or someone making a serious, or offensive point. This can lead to awkward conversations of trying to work out which it is. Many would say that this is exactly why the British sense of humour is so funny.
You may be also interested in: Stereotypes about the English
Is British humour insensitive?
Not only is British humour self-deprecating, it also makes you the target or indeed, the butt of jokes. This can seem shocking, and even crass to many; but “joking about your dead grandfather or your cousin’s dyslexia is completely acceptable in the country of tea and scones, so long as it is done in jest.”* While some people do not mind this sense of humour, many cultures feel that British humour takes things too far, and are insensitive.
Can you laugh at yourself?
British humour is the ability to laugh at one’s self and others, it doesn’t let you think too highly of yourself, and if you do, you can be sure it will bring you back down to earth.
Explore British humour and comedy
Some well known British Comedy shows and TV programmes include: Only Fools and Horses, Miranda Hart, Monty Python, The Office, Peep Show, Fawlty Towers…. the list is endless – check them out on YouTube!