Stephen Fry on American vs British Comedy

Barnaby Dodd
Barnaby Dodd

I think he nailed British comedy, but I think he is completely wrong about American comedy. American comedy cannot be deduced to one style.

Il y a jour
Barnaby Dodd
Barnaby Dodd

@mandellorian And it's a myth that U.S. shows don't travel well.

Il y a 22 heures
Barnaby Dodd
Barnaby Dodd

@mandellorian Again, it depends on the comedy. There is lots of subtle American comedy. There is lots of self-depreciating comedy. It's all different. The idea that American comedy can be summed up as one style like British comedy is nonsense. One of the most popular comedy shows of all-time is Seinfeld. The best character on the show, George, is a neurotic loser. Not every show is like "Friends". Movies like The Big Lebowski are completely different from The Naked Gun. Office Space is completely different from Dumb and Dumber.

Il y a 22 heures
mandellorian
mandellorian

Yes it can..which is why US comedy usually doesn`t travel well.

Il y a 22 heures
#meneither also
#meneither also

Real unavoidable tragedy eats away a tad, back of the head, to a joke worth cringing at.

Il y a jour
Stefen Echols
Stefen Echols

I think both have their strengths. I would hate if there the same that wouldn’t make for great comedy. Both are funny but it really depends on who’s watching. But British humor is much more intellectual in that it’s much more of a small play then a stand up routine. American humor is much more punchline based aka killer one liners.

Il y a 3 jours
HyperdimensionNeptuniaFan
HyperdimensionNeptuniaFan

Rodney Dangerfield should be a legend in Britain, right?

Il y a 4 jours
mandellorian
mandellorian

Only really known as the annoying twat in a couple of bad 80`s movies.

Il y a 22 heures
Sinopulence
Sinopulence

Stephen Fry: Great with comedy. Bad with politics.

Il y a 4 jours
Ash Amin
Ash Amin

An American comedian is a 'repository of killer one-liners' sums it up nicely.

Il y a 4 jours
Harry Ashley
Harry Ashley

A Serious Man is a very interesting movie in this regard. No wonder it didn't do very well in America.

Il y a 5 jours
Viking Power
Viking Power

British humor, they laugh at themselves, American humor, We laugh at the Brits. Well, they are a bloody funny lot.

Il y a 6 jours
Valkylva
Valkylva

He said “you can’t do that in American comedy”. Haha! See here is the difference between the US and UK.. American comedy does whatever it wants. We do it all. We have every type of humor here. He said “you can’t do that in American comedy” because he is from the UK. That is because “can’t” is in their vocabulary. We (in the US) have a much wider range of funny and what is accepted. That is the difference.

Il y a 9 jours
mandellorian
mandellorian

Like fuck you do. US comedy is so one dimensional its ridiculous. Its why US comedy generally doesn`t do well outside the US.

Il y a 22 heures
Cole Sprouse
Cole Sprouse

This is actually the funniest comment I've ever read it's the other way around love American to is so censored it's boring try actually watching a Brit comedy I'll think your find your very very wrong

Il y a 5 jours
M Express
M Express

Maybe because there are many races mix in America? But now day, even the comedian having hard time to make comedy because of sensitive PC culture especially from those who doesn't even like comedy, but get over sensitive after seeing some CLIPS of the comedy gig and got triggered which mostly came form community of LBGTQ, feminist, vegetarian, PETA etc.

Il y a 7 jours
Samantha Gilmour
Samantha Gilmour

I think many Americans also make fun of the fact that we are grandizing. It's almost the same theory. We are hiding our own failures in the will to keep working hard to keep failing. And looking good doing it. But in the end, self-deprecating humor works on us in much the same. Even Americans don't like being pompous. We like looking pompous while being the butt of the joke.

Il y a 9 jours
MsPinecone123
MsPinecone123

Thank you Stephen for all you do for humanity. Just read Heros.

Il y a 10 jours
Matthew Stokes
Matthew Stokes

Just do not like this “English”man “Fry”... I am sorry but he is a verbal bully who has an obvious political and deviant social agenda as per his true race. He is a racist, leftist traitor.

Il y a 11 jours
mandellorian
mandellorian

Verbal bully...so you are so utterly stupid you have been defeated by someone with just their words? how fucking pathetic can you get?

Il y a 22 heures
John Magnell
John Magnell

Maybe that’s why I think George Costanza is so brilliant. He’s more the British character.

Il y a 11 jours
Victor Victor
Victor Victor

I could listen to Stephen Fry for hours. Great guy!

Il y a 11 jours
your right I'm sooo sorry
your right I'm sooo sorry

BASIL!!!!!

Il y a 12 jours
CMJGLLP 3
CMJGLLP 3

Ohh I knowwww.

Il y a 11 jours
insaneweasel1
insaneweasel1

Be me Mummys 500 pound big boy...

Il y a 12 jours
Hank Roest
Hank Roest

Ah Stephen. At least his humility is genuine. His "understanding" sure isn't. He is just ear candy for middle brows who love to listen without having to hear.

Il y a 12 jours
Brave Sir Robin
Brave Sir Robin

I'm just waiting for that next load to land .

Il y a 13 jours
Catweasle
Catweasle

American humour: "You will laugh at me"       English humour: "Laugh at me if you want"

Il y a 13 jours
Henry Limpet
Henry Limpet

Best explanation of differences I've ever heard. Now I get it.

Il y a 13 jours
Suzanne Stacey
Suzanne Stacey

John Belushi - Canadian. Jim Carrey - Canadian. Just saying.

Il y a 13 jours
Woody OFP857
Woody OFP857

I, living in the US of A, have noticed that people when telling stories of things happening in their lives, always portray themselves as the only sensible one, or the victor, or the like. I would get quite bored of "Did I tell you about the time when everyone was an idiot aside from me?"

Il y a 14 jours
The Miller
The Miller

I feel the comic that perfectly exemplifies Stephen's description of American comedy is Norm MacDonald. Hes above his comedy and above the audience while playing a simpleton idiot for whom things just work out.

Il y a 14 jours
james harrison
james harrison

I think, and I fully admit I might be off the mark here with this, that this is the major difference between the two styles. Rhythm vs awkwardness ; american comedy tries to ease you into a rhythm and tries to sweep you up into the comics or the tv shows flow. good american comedy will sweep you up and you'll lose yourself laughing without realising how long you've been there watching, bad comedy will feel like its filing taxes british comedy feels more stop-start like or staccato in style, and the jokes shock you even though they might not be that shocking in their content, just with the leap in logic from one subject to the next good comedy will leave you waiting to find were the hell they are going with it, bad comedy will feel like your stuck listening to an unfunny higher up that you need to listen to's boring anecdotes

Il y a 14 jours
Randy Rando
Randy Rando

Bravado vs self deprication.

Il y a 15 jours
9Ballr
9Ballr

"On whom life craps from a terrible height."

Il y a 15 jours
John O'Neill
John O'Neill

Hey buddy! Youtube recommendations get you here for some unknown reason too huh?

Il y a 15 jours
Stuart Hunter
Stuart Hunter

I love all comedy whether it's British American or The new nordic and Dutch stuff. but the best humour comes from Yorkshire

Il y a 16 jours
Psychotic Bob
Psychotic Bob

Americans = arrogance. British = humility.

Il y a 16 jours
Puckered
Puckered

these comments are just brits jerking themselves off for being "funnier" lmfao get a fucking grip

Il y a 16 jours
WanderAbroad
WanderAbroad

I like Fry and this kind of had me thinking though. Glorying in failure is not a good thing and perhaps this is why in America Dave Chappell can fight the system, be allowed to do so and it helps us through our hard times. In the U.K. you get thrown into jail for the wrong kind of joke. Sure you deal with the woke crowd in the U.S. but they can't throw us in jail. We don't stop fighting and we won't because the battle isn't over until it's won. Failure is not an option.

Il y a 16 jours
Pamela Miller
Pamela Miller

Brilliant.

Il y a 17 jours
goodcat1982
goodcat1982

American humour is more often aimed to make dumb people laugh. They have to ensure even the dumbest person gets it. British humour is a success if the dumbest person doesn't get it.

Il y a 17 jours
Antkoff
Antkoff

the final sentence is gold.

Il y a 17 jours
jeep23862
jeep23862

Could the British have made "Big Bang Theory"? No. Could the American's have made 'Fleabag"? No. Both are funny, who gives a shit who made them.

Il y a 17 jours
jeep23862
jeep23862

@Mikkel Arvai So did I.

Il y a 17 jours
Mikkel Arvai
Mikkel Arvai

Big Bang Theory funny? I have to laugh.

Il y a 17 jours
Herr Wolf
Herr Wolf

Translation: British Comedy is smart and humble. American Comedy is retarded.

Il y a 17 jours
Henry Wilding
Henry Wilding

This could have been shortened if he'd had said the blunt truth that is "British comedy is better by far than American comedy"

Il y a 18 jours
Jonathan Walmsley
Jonathan Walmsley

As ever, Stephen Fry sums up the difference brilliantly. It's why Butters and Jerry from South Park and Rick and Morty respectively are my favourite characters on those American comedy cartoon shows - because their characters are most like the 'pathetic underdog' archetypes that make up the best British comedy characters. It's always funnier to laugh at someones failures than it is their successes - that's just human nature. This isn't necessarily due to pure mean-mindedness either, rather the humour comes from setting up expectations and then going the other way, and as most characters/people are out to succeed in life, when they inevitably fall short, the humour comes from that glaring gap between expectation and reality. This is particularly so when those failures are self-inflicted, as the gap becomes wider still between imagined self and actual self, and British comedy embodies this type of humour the best.

Il y a 19 jours
R. Voogt
R. Voogt

Someone could be bit of a Chandler (from Friends)

Il y a 22 jours
felix ruiz
felix ruiz

Americans seem very Arrogant or what I like to call Proud from view's of other countries do to the fact that it's a very competitive country from growing up thru the school system with sports,music,studies,etc...Also having to be competitive in the work place to move up in your career!!A percentage of Americans are just very optimistic and always move forward! If not you get left behind, it's not just studies that make a human who they are,which Americans get criticized alot,its the dedication and sacrifice we all go thru!!The world view American's as something they see from television show's and other social media outlet's! Which is just a very small percentage of people that make up the U.S.A..I've always admired Winston Churchill more than any other figure during the last great war! And when I think of British I think of a very proud and great nation!!

Il y a 25 jours
Michael Browne
Michael Browne

American comedy is crap

Il y a 25 jours
robert4you
robert4you

As a Scandinavian man I give you a great example of the difference between British and American comedy: USA: _Friends_ Great Britain: _Coupling_ The series _Coupling_ is so much more intelligent and wiser than _Friends._ Friends is loosely based on coupling, but there is a universe between them when it comes to acting and humour. If you have not seen _Coupling_ (2000-2004), try to find it online, on DVD or Blu-ray. Worth every penny. It is British comedy at its best. Ten out of ten. IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0237123/

Il y a 26 jours
Abdullah Almadhi
Abdullah Almadhi

I think you are wrong in comparison as there are many examples of American comic works where the main character is a weak idiot in way like friends and the 70's show and many other shows The two types are being used in both countries as they are the only two options in comedy

Il y a 26 jours
Ray Stroud
Ray Stroud

It never ceases to astonish me how well Stephen can get to the heart of / nail something and explain it. His video on Brexit is worth a watch.

Il y a 26 jours
Dragan Vujanović
Dragan Vujanović

.. . Fry still knew what he was doing back than.

Il y a 29 jours
Oisin Lally
Oisin Lally

Set up question... Means diddly!

Il y a 29 jours
cronas2
cronas2

British = we laugh at ourselves. American = you laugh at others. Ok,...very simplistic ...but its the easiest way I can see it....

Il y a 29 jours
David Pirtle
David Pirtle

Of course there are self-deprecating American comics, and there are British comics who are all about zingy one-liners, but this does generally ring true.

Il y a mois
Jupp Soetebier
Jupp Soetebier

The main differences are this: In the UK, say 'bum' in or out of context and you'll get uproarious laughter. Also, relentlessly make fun of someone's shortcomings such as his height, weight, hair, or social status and you'll get uproarious laughter. Finally, make relentless and condescending jokes about a person's accent (especially if they come from the north, Wales, Scotland or Ireland) and you'll get uproarious laughter. Lesson here: Brits are a self-hateful people. Americans... we just think anyone can be a billionaire or president. And there's some truth to that. Slim, very slim, but truthful.

Il y a mois
When I say Lady in red
When I say Lady in red

Don rickles, robin Williams, foster brooks, Jonathan, George carlin. ....Britain =0 maderchod. .🙏🙏

Il y a mois
Jola Ajtak
Jola Ajtak

I think humor goes further than just on a professional base. Every country in the world has great professional comedians, but I never met a british person who was not funny by just having a chat with him or telling a story, while in contrary I honestly never met an American, who was funny at all. Just a lot of talking. So, I honestly think british people as average people have the best humor. Next to jewish and korean. But that is my personal experience.

Il y a mois
Johnny Drama
Johnny Drama

to-be-trashed by Bill Burr kind of chairs

Il y a mois
Y A
Y A

I don’t agree on this point the 3 stoogies were failures, Charley Chaplin, adams family and so on. That dude that plays in the office and many other british comedians play snobbish characters. It’s not about british vs American it’s just different sides of humour but on this point I could argue that making people laugh at you is the most noble and true form of humour than disrespecting others or bullying them.

Il y a mois
mike A
mike A

Easier answer. Americans think highly of themselves and take themselves seriously. An american comic makes fun of others. A British comic makes fun of himself. It is why satire rarely works in the states as it is seen as a personal attack and as such not funny.

Il y a mois
Minotauro Di Chieti
Minotauro Di Chieti

British humour is made by very smart people for very smart people, american humour is made by psychotic, disturbed people for an audience that made fr the 99% by stupid, superficial people.

Il y a mois
David Lucey
David Lucey

I must be British

Il y a mois
Ivo Popov
Ivo Popov

I also think that british comedy is more natural while american comedy is way more artificial. In british comedy shit things happen because it is normal that they happen and the characters react to them funnily while in us shows the characters themselves try to set up the punchlines which makes the jokes less real. The dialogue is usually too "perfect" while british dialogue is way more random and silly which is what reality tends to look like.

Il y a mois
Alistair Aldridge
Alistair Aldridge

BS!

Il y a mois
Red Rackham
Red Rackham

It's a neat hypothesis, but I'm not sure it really works. What about a character like Al Bundy or Ross Geller? It is hard to imagine a more quintessentially American comic antihero than Al Bundy, yet he fits what Fry characterizes as the British comic model perfectly. Ross Geller is similar; certainly life "craps on him from a very great height." He is also worth comparing to the character of Steve in Coupling, since Coupling sort of was the British Friends, and Steve was the analogous character to Ross. Steve is the clever wisecracker par excellence. And while he is somewhat hapless, he is also invariably the cleverest, wittiest character in every scene, and he (almost) always has the perfect quip ready to go. I'm not saying Fry is completely wrong, but there are definitely counterexamples.

Il y a mois
R. Voogt
R. Voogt

there are always exceptions from the rule. Take the role of Lord Flashheart by Rik Mayall (RIP) from Blackadder. Or Chandler from Friends, etc.

Il y a 22 jours
JiveDadson
JiveDadson

I tell ya, those British comics don't get no respect. No respect.

Il y a mois
Jason
Jason

The debates over which one is better in the comments below are ridiculous. That being said, American comedy is a million times more successful. When is the next British comedy blockbuster coming out? When did the last one? Other than very few examples such as The Office and Monty Python, British comedy is not that appealing outside of Britain. I think humans prefer the intelligent rascal over the downtrodden buffoon.

Il y a mois
Barry Stockton
Barry Stockton

Jason, given the number of American shows that are basic rehashes of British shows, I would say one is talking out of one's arse :)

Il y a mois

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