Wednesday, October 24, 2007

They're the Falkland Islands, Twit

It must've been one really strange sight!.. this rather large guy with head hidden under a hand, shaking all over, his jowls wobbling, coffee cup in danger of losing its contents to keyboard, His computer incidentally displaying a Guardian article on weight watching for pregnant women, all this in the middle of calls flying around him about gross profit and accountability and at least one person getting fired. Was he the one fired? No. Is he one of "those" guys who "empathise" with women "issues"? No. Well actually it was me and I was shaking uncontrollably because I was laughing my head off at one more of the Guardians' bloggers remarks that seems to come so easily to them but the rest of the world finds so hard to imitate.
Why are Brits such naturals at poker-face remarks that sends the rest of the world into paroxysms of giggling? How are they so good at caustic-ism, at making cutting one-liners that invoke a little bit of shakespeare here and a little bit of descartes there?
the particular one that sent me off was "Breastfeeding can shift a lot of weight, fast, partly because you are producing food for someone else to eat, and partly because it kills your appetite while you are doing it, which I think is nature's way of stopping you from getting crumbs in your baby's ears. Don't worry, Milla. Eat as much marrow as you like"
"..getting crumbs into your baby's ears..." not even the wittiest I know can come up with a statement like that, inserted with so much nonchalance and probably unnoticed by most of the world and all of the united states
...getting crumbs into your baby's ears...
The British National Motto
Top 10 Evil things
Looky at the article and ensuing debate on the "brit national motto".. people who're righteously indignant tend to bluster... but does Tristran Hunt? No bloody way.. he's too brit. And if his cutting article doesn't get the message across have a gander at the comments.. the readers have unofficially adopted the 2nd reader's mistaken post "They are the Falklands Islands, twit" as the national motto. I doubled up with laughter. The most irreverent NYT writer couldn't hold a candle to them

As a case in point lets take American humour. Take for example Stephen Colbert whom I admire very much.. take his guest op-ed article in NYT

no.. he isn't trying to be funny, just trying to make a point.. but even when he is, which actually is quite often,.. he couldn't hold a candle to the average Guardian reader. Time for a little diversion.

Now, I don't like American humour or the comedy shows too much. They depend too much on slapstick and choreographed timing that isn't really available to you in real life. But literate humour does exist...
Now this is when Stephen Colbert roasts Bush at the White House Correspondent's Dinner. Funny because of the calculated sarcasm and the target. I simply can't imagine going up on front of one of the most privileged Press circles in the world and roasting the supposedly most powerful man in the world on a spit for a full 15 minutes right to his face!! The gall it takes!!

Part 2
Part 3

Colbert on The O'Reilly Factor - absolutely totally brilliant.

And yet.. yet... really can't come close to a brit in a blue cap, in filthy undershirt and dirty cardigans, probably smoking with a can of Coors in the same hand that points to Gordon Brown and says " You Sir, are a hypocrite and a war criminal" in crisp tones, in response to Brown's supposed love for democracy in Burma. No American writer could possibly replicate the sheer irreverent, brilliant humour intrinsic to every sentence in Douglas Adam's every ever written sentence. For my daily dose of endorphins, which aren't provided by my non-existent girlfriend, I use the Daily Mash

But make no mistake the average Guardian reader is not the average Brit. He's the Brit we love, not the hooligan who reads one of those Murdoch owned rags. He's neither the upper class entitled inbred twit who reads the Times nor the lawyer who drools over page 3 in the Mirror/Sun. S/He might be upper class or blue-collar or middle class, or white or black or ethnic indian or pakistani but s/he's the essential brit. Now who is the essential brit? look at the article on the national motto again. "They're the Falkland Islands, twit".

The Irish are supposed to be extremely colourful but caustic, witty and literate at the same time? Nope not really. Its the Brit. The way s/he calls someone a tit or a twat can be more demeaning that the best punjabi gaalis a jat can dream up.

One of the other peoples famous for sarcasm are the Tamils. We're (yeah... wokay.. time for a bit of yoga.. reach around with either arm and pat yourself on the back) anally retentive with people we don't trust but you should look at us have a go at people we don't like. Every Tamil's dream is to make that sarcastic cutting remark that makes his/her rival want to "naaka pudingittu saava vendiyathudhan" ( hang to death by the tongue!). Even when the Tamil gets physically agressive, the stance isn't one of your usual defensive or offensive stances. He or she folds the tongue, sticks it out held between the teeth and thrusts his/her face in yours. It our way of telling you, I don't need my tongue to take care of you, see, my fists are enough. But still we aren't funny unless the explicit agenda is to make fun of someone.

There's another community that give the brits a go for their money when it comes to dead-pan caustic humour. They're the Chinese Americans. Something in their ancestral land combined with something in their adopted homeland seem to have given them the peculiar power of saying the most inconceivable things with an absolute poker face. You never know whether those kitschy hong-kong movies are really like that or they're making fun of themselves. Its the latter... I think. BUt they simply don't have the screen presence on the world stage that the brit has. The Brits wins hands down at literate humour.

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