simon pegg explains british irony

Back at my last home, Waynemanor, perhaps the best thing about living there was sitting on the back porch with my 4 (or 5 or 6 or 7) housemates, drinking and/or smoking, and talking about whatever came into our heads. It was so much more fresh and immediate than IRC, where I generally “hang out” to catch water-cooler type gossip. It forced me to think differently than I usually do.

One of the best conversations we had was about humour, sarcasm and irony. When they first started joking with me, I used to cringe a bit. I sometimes would assume their jokes were personal attacks on me. They never were. My low-self-esteem and American-humour training just kept me from even considering the option that they were jokes. They argued that the Canadian sense of irony and sarcasm was used to hide deeper, stronger emotions. It allowed them a way to compliment me without being sappy, without having to be totally open about how they felt. Eventually I not only started to understand it, I started to use it. That’s roughly when I started to fit in with Canadians. (It’s also about when I started to spell colour with a u.)

Simon Pegg, one of my favourite comedians (Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, Big Train, bit parts in Look Around You, Black Books and Doctor Who), writes about this very topic in this week’s Guardian. Interestingly, even though my sense of comedy has changed since I moved in at Waynemanor (in no small part due to my good housemates-cum-friends), I still held many of the British senses of comedy prior to coming to Canada. I give thanks in no small part to WTTW (PBS, Chicago) airing so many different ones for so many years before Doctor Who. For instance, Pegg states: “The british aren’t against [heartfelt, emotional expression in comedy]; we just believe it comes at a price.” How true – I understood it when I withheld my emotions from others, but I didn’t understand it when others withheld theirs from me. Part social blindness, part low self esteem generally led me down a path of darkness and despair. Instead, now I look first for people to simply be scared to speak their minds, either from social pressure or intimidation; it’s made a big difference in my demeanour.

Oh, in case you’re wondering about Pegg’s description about outtakes from Happy Days in which Mrs. Cunningham and Fonzie are sexually frisky with each other being real or not…it is. “Ross and Winkler talk briefly about their characters’ relationship and how Marion called Fonzie “Arthur.” A never-before-seen outtake is shown where Fonzie and Marion are very affectionate with each other.

Cat watch: My kitty is a lot better, thank you. She’s back mostly to normal, and the vet said this week that the tube will probably come out next week. She’s still not quite eating enough orally, but she at least is back to a minimally healthy weight (3.2kg, they are targetting 4kg for her) and is active again. Now that the jaundice is gone, it’s more important that she get back to normal and start eating, than for her to be force-fed. I’ll post updated pictures once I have a working digital camera again.

1 thought on “simon pegg explains british irony

  1. As an American, I do irony like I do rigourous yoga at dawn on a Saturday morning with a hangover after a night of getting dead pissed. It’s a Godsend I black-out, else I’d experience the acute shame of my actions. Luckily I had that gun, as every upstanding American citizen should! Otherwise that wanker would’ve robbed me of all the worldly rubbish on my person.

    Bollox! Where the devil’d I leave that gun?! Oh. no.

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