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On Britishness: The British Sense of Humour

The British Sense of Humour
The British have their brand of humour, and what makes them laugh may leave you wondering your head, especially when it's typically subtler and delivered with a serious expression. When it comes to British humour, the rule of thumb is that if someone says something completely incomprehensible with a straight face, they're most likely joking.

Understanding the local humour and knowing when to laugh and when not to laugh is one of the challenges of moving to a different country that isn't immediately apparent. Another thing you might not know is that in the United Kingdom, nothing and no one is off-limits; therefore, politicians are constantly derided, and everyone in the public spotlight, even the Royal Family, is fair game. It is seen friends, relatives, and coworkers in Britain frequently demonstrate their admiration by making fun of one another. Humour pervades every facet of English life and society, much like class.

Many Britons believe that the British sense of humour is distinct, more delicate, and more evolved than that of other countries. Oscar Wilde, a well-known British dramatist, stated emphatically and purposefully, "It is clear that humour is far superior than humor". The fact that British humour has no 'off' switch is perhaps the most perplexing aspect. Almost every British discussion contains irony, sarcasm, banter, understatement, self-deprecation, teasing, or ridicule in some manner.  It's impossible to decipher if a Brit is joking or serious because every word exchanged between them has an undercurrent of humour.

Irony and sarcasm at the core of British humour

The British have a special fondness for irony and are always ready to make a caustic remark when the time arises. A particularly dry example might be a British individual remarking on how wonderful the weather is while it is storming outside.

To make a point, the British utilise irony and its derivative, sarcasm, to say the opposite of what they mean. This usually happens when a British person is asked a ridiculous question, such as when British actress Cara Delevigne was asked on American television if she had read John Green's novel Paper Towns before acting in the film. Delevigne sneered, "No, I never read the book or the script; I just winged it".

Britishers enjoy making fun of themselves.

One can't take themselves too seriously in the United Kingdom. British people enjoy making light of their shortcomings and failures. They are more personable, humble, and relatable because of their self-deprecating humour. In Britain, embarrassing incidents, awkward encounters, and clumsiness are all regarded as amusing. So, the next time you make an error in the UK, make a joke out of it. There's no reason to wallow in sadness when you can laugh instead.

Being somewhat offensive can indicate a strong bond.

When the British say offensive, they don't mean indecent. They do, however, enjoy humorous, tongue-in-cheek statements that 'offend' those close to them. In fact, a light-hearted attack from a Brit is a sign that you've earned their regard. There's no need to be worried if you make a mistake and someone says, "Well, that was clever!" It's all in the name of having a good time.

Everything is amusing to the Britishers.

It's true that British people can laugh at themselves in almost any setting. In the United Kingdom, making jokes is considered a sort of medicine. They like to think of themselves as realists. Because misfortune cannot always be prevented, it is best to laugh at it.

Much of British humour isn't plainly funny and doesn't make people laugh aloud. "At best, a well-timed quip only raises a slight smirk", says anthropologist Kate Fox.  The most apparent drawback of British comedy for foreigners is that it is not always amusing across cultures. Those unfamiliar with British humour, however, need not be concerned. Because the most astonishing thing about British humour is that it is something that develops on you rather than something you can learn.

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