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Becoming British

I have a strange fascination with the people across ‘the pond’. I’m enamored of their signature dry wit, and the fact that their coarse humor still manages to sound dignified. Adopting their slang is irresistible, and I try to sneak it in at any given moment. The problem is: you can’t go ‘full British’ without being deemed as a total weirdo who’s suffering from an identity crisis.

If we learned anything from the movie Tropic Thunder, it’s this: Never go full retard.

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In the states, the term ‘I’m gagging for a fag’ (desperate for a cigarette) would not be well received. Still, there are some innocuous terms that I’ve added to my verbal arsenal (he, he, arse…another great one). My most favorite British term is love. I love the word love, so it’s seems fitting to address people as such.

Here’s the deal: I grew up in a household who had an affinity for watching British comedies. The show ‘Keeping Up Appearances’ was at the top of the viewing list, and my parents laughed the loudest while watching this show (on the telly). Mrs. Bucket insisted that her name be pronounced Bouquet. We were living in the midst of the ‘Texas Oil Boom’. so the ‘nouveau riche’ approach hit home. All the new wealth around us had Becky Sue and Jim Bob ‘putting on heirs’.

We moved from Houston just as the bubble burst, and would spend the next years wandering the mountain country as nomads.

Between then and now, my brain consumed a lot of bad American television. The highlights (if you choose to call them that) included, Beavis and Butthead, The Real World: MTV, and Beverly Hills: 90210.

In recent years, I’ve found some British gems to watch, and they don’t have the nasty side effect of rotting your brain. The British (and 1st) version of The Office is a natural choice but if you want to dig a little deeper, I recommend the following: Little Britain, Extras and An Idiot Abroad.

Little Britain: Computer Says No

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Extras: Starring David Bowie (sigh)

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I can scarcely survive a world where grey skies reign supreme and Earl Grey tea replaces my coffee, but I have to give credit, where credit is due.

There’d be no ‘American rock’n roll’ without the influence of the Brits and humor would be as stale as a week old scone without that off-the-wall British sarcasm.

Are you having a laugh? Yes, yes I am. Keep it coming Brits.

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18 thoughts on “Becoming British

  1. As an English guy, I approve with one slight reservation…Little Britain is terrible. It’s one good episode repeated a few dozen times verbatim with a different backdrop. Have you seen Green Wing or Black Books or even The Mighty Boosh? You might enjoy them.

    • Sketch comedy is often redundant but I’m still standing behind Little Britain :). I haven’t seen the other shows you mentioned but I’ll have to check them out. Thanks for the suggestions.

  2. Oh yes, what is it about the British people and their accents which make them seem so much more dignified and their humor so much more subtle, and funnier!! I had quite a few friends who attempted British accents after trips to London (as if they now permanently spoke like that i.e. Madonna). It did not go well.

    • I think you nailed it. It’s the subtlety that’s key. I feel like American humor is often (not always) more forced. I can imagine my eye twitching with annoyance, if my friends came back with new accents.

      • Oh yeah, there was this girl in NY who came back from a brief trip with an accent. A little while after she came back she was helping out selling merch for a mutual friend’s band and I was at the show. Between songs the guitar player said ‘We’d like to thank the always lovely and sometimes British Lara for selling out T-shirts.’ Classic!

      • That’s awesome. We have a friend whose nickname is British John. He is from the UK but has lived in the states since he was seven. He is usually pretty good about keeping up the British accent but sometimes forgets and speaks with his actual American accent. Must be exhausting!

  3. I think we’re all a little fascinated by what we’re not. Being British isn’t as much fun as it might seem. Personally I wish I was Italian. Then being crazy, ridiculously passionate about stuff – the important things like food, aesthetic beauty, women, cars etc. – and overly emotional would be just normal, rather than a bit odd. I’d have plenty to be patriotic about in terms of history, architecture, countryside and so on, and I’d sound wonderful when I spoke. It would also be just fine to cry now and then or hug your friends. I’m not so keen on religion or football (interchangeable) or the many other minor drawbacks but I’d cope somehow, every culture/country has its shortfalls.

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