Laughing in the Face of Controversy
British people. Tea. Royalty. Ian Mckellen. Bad teeth, apparently, which I only found out from my German girlfriend is a negative stereotype of the British that she found to be true. Apparently she was shocked at the state of our choppers. A few days after she landed from her native home of Germany she had surmised that it must be all the tea, booze and fags (the British slang for cigarette not the slanderous term for a homosexual). I was offended on behalf of my nation! I told her she can well and truly fuck off back to Germany and that her mum has bad teeth, and then we had a good ‘ol laugh! Therein lies part of that silly humour. Dry, insulting, offensive, stupid, sarcastic, ironic, layered and nuanced - depending on the crowd of course.
I believe it to be a very well developed sense of humour that’s shared on an almost national scale. I believe nowhere has a more potent form of this humour than London. The sprawling and diverse metropolis is a breeding ground for levity which is encouraged by an extravagant and rewarding social atmosphere.
Evidently I’m a little bit in love with it.
I only recently realised how true this was when I started traveling more. I went to Berlin with my partner and we met up with some of her friends. It was 10 o’clock in the evening, prime drinking time, I was ready to start throwing barbs, making jokes, telling funny stories and getting pissed.
The first round was bought. Everybody spoke about their day and had their drink THEN LEFT! THEY FUCKING VACATED THE BAR AREA! NOBODY INSULTED ANYONE! NOBODY GOT DRUNK!
Much too sensible if you ask me. That being said it was a very short trip and I don’t presume to think that all Berliners are like that, or in fact that it’s bad thing to be like that or that there aren’t tons of people who value comedy like the Brits.
My point is that, on average, most British people want to have a laugh at the expense and benefit of themselves and their friends. It’s like a social currency and most social spaces are like bustling trading floors, where friends and colleagues exchange insults, sarcastic quips and funny stories. Often the first thing that friends will do once they see each other is insult one another.
Comedy has permeated every facet of British life, nobody really wants to know about your day unless something outrageous happened. Did you insult your boss because you’ve had enough of his stupid face? Did you drink too much last night and shit yourself this morning? If none of the above than tell me a knock-knock joke or buy me a drink and piss off.
Only joking, but get me a drink.
Probably the most wonderful thing is that most people assume that behind the humour lies good people with good intentions, and that circumvents the need to be bound by political correctness within those purely leisurely conversations.
Basically, given the unbelievable diversity of people in London, we get along pretty damn well and have a laugh along the way. Comedy is a great leveller and brings people together under the banner of laughing your ass off like an idiot. That awkward British politeness also goes perfectly with the sense of humour, we spend enough time rushing around the underground saying “sorry”, “excuse me” and “thanks” that by the end of the day nothing is more cathartic than calling your good friend a ‘knob merchant with penis toes’ and then getting drunk…yes, the British like to drink.
Comedy and freedom of speech go hand in hand. I want to write more about this but it must be written very carefully otherwise people will come for my first born child if I use the wrong semantics or there’s a whiff of an offensive nature about it. Anyway, I should get going, the angry mob is here.
P.S — If you mention Brexit in the comments I will shit.