Where is the comedy?

Australasians are accustomed to seeing a variety of different countries TV shows on our television screens with most of our shows coming from the US and the UK. Along with our own programmes, it appear that Australian culture is diverse enough in its views and understanding of other cultures that we are able to understand and enjoy the humour that is portrayed through these programmes.

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However, when it comes to the US, it appear that they do not respond to other countries humour quite the same way, which in most cases, results in them recreating a television series in order for their society to understand the humour.

The successful television programme The Office originally from the UK, has been adapted by the US and in its own way, its own brand new TV series, renaming and re-imaging the main characters in order to reinvent the successful UK version (Turnbull, 2010, p114). As the show furthered from the original UK version, the show became increasingly popular with American audiences. Again, raising the question as to why wasn’t the UK version, and its humour understood or liked by US audiences? This is answered be Susan Purdies Comedy Theory 1.

Comedy theory 1 explains that comedy is dependent on a set rules, either language or behaviours, that are usually put in place by cultural, social and political contexts. The humour is then created by these rules being broken.

However, in order to see the humour, you first need an understanding of the rules being broken.

In the case of the US not understanding other cultures humour, it could be accounted to the lack of influence the US has from outside cultures, that gives them no idea about their social, cultural and political comedy rules being broken. Which in turn results in them not finding the humour funny, because they haven’t understood the humour at all.

US Office Vs UK Office

US Office Vs UK Office

This theory, explains why, as the US doesn’t take to other cultures Comedy Television quite as well as we do in Australia. And it’s due to lack of exposure. Without it, there is no understanding of the social, cultural or political rules being broken from the culture their viewing, meaning no humour can be noticed.




Turnbull, S 2008, ‘‘It’s Like They Threw a Panther in the Air and Caught It in Embroidery’: Television Comedy in Translation’, Metro Magazine, vol. 1, no 159, pp.110 – 115.


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