Sunday, January 22, 2012

British Humor, In a Nifty Form You Can Carry With You

Okay, okay, I know... it's hardly goth to smile. Why, cracking a smile may also lead to cracking through the 14 pounds of white facepaint we're wearing!

Now, of course anyone over the age of about 12 knows I'm kidding here. Just 'cause your a goth doesn't mean you can't have a good time. And that is why I want to talk to you today about British humor.

The amusement to be found in British works is lost on many a person. The trouble is (usually) not even that it's too intellectual for the typical Adam Sandler fan; no, the trouble is actually that it's a bit too zany for American tastes. The British have been historically known for being a dignified, upright race of people, and as such the humor often relies on breaking of the taboos. The jokes are about people being rude to each other, or being explicit about sex, or going crazy, or silly walks, or being rich but falling in love with the butler -- all sorts of follies that to a casual American don't seem to make much sense, given that here no one cares.

You might hone up on your British humor by checking out this collection of 20 different comedy plays from English authors. I can fully recommend it because I was the editor -- and I carefully chose each of these plays for their timeless hilarity. Maybe even Americans would like it, God only knows!

Stories include Pygmalion, wherein the crazy cockney flower-seller Eliza Doolittle is drafted into an aristocratic lifestyle by two linguists who figure they can change her persona by changing her accent; Our American Cousin (famous for being the play Abraham Lincoln was watching when his brains were blown out) about a hillbilly American cousin coming to visit his British relatives after inheriting the estate of their common ancestor; Mother Bombie, wherein two rich old men try to marry off their kids who are "fools" (i.e. mentally disabled or impaired) without revealing the truth about their progenies' conditions; Wurzel-Flummery, in which a man is set to inherit a fortune on condition he change his surname to Wurzel-Flummery; The Recruiting Officer, a play so bawdy and obscene it didn't even take the Victorians to start changing and altering the text; plus many, many more. As the would say in the old days, give it a trial.

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