Lenny Henry to explore British sense of humour on the telly

Apparently star of Chef and that programme about the headmaster who goes to the school which is a bit rubbish but becomes a bit better by the end, you know – the one that had the big Scottish bloke in and that woman of that other programme,  Lenny Henry is making a programme about the British sense of humour.  He will look at what makes the people of Britain laugh individually and collectively.  

[Pause for punchline]

Pity he didn’t do it before his last series.

Variants on this joke referring to other aspects of Mr Henry’s career (including particularly the grimfest that is Comic Relief) will be available in LJs and blogs around the country later today.


About loveandgarbage

I watch the telly and read when not doing law stuff and plugging my decade and a half old unwatched Edinburgh fringe show.
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7 Responses to Lenny Henry to explore British sense of humour on the telly

  1. pigeonhed says:

    Is there such a thing as British that can be isolated so?
    re-read that BBC report with this subtle change:
    Comedian Lenny Henry is to investigate the Black sense of humour in a BBC One documentary series.
    The Chef star, 47, will tour the UK to discover what makes people laugh, and what that reveals about the Blacks.

    • The idea of Britishness is problematic in a number of contexts. Regional identity seems more powerful, and would probably glean more interesting observations in relation to humour. I wonder if that will be one of the subtexts behind the documentary.
      I am very conscious of a north-south divide in relation to certain comics – the point tanngrisnir makes in his comment to the post.

  2. tanngrisnir says:

    On a serious note, if you will forgive me, I think the silliest thing about that is not Lenny Henry (despite what you say being pretty true), it is the idea that there is a British sense of humour.
    I was thinking about this the other day, looking at the Radio Times‘s thing about the top ten female comedians on TV. Joyce Grenfell apart (and I wouldn’t have described her as being on TV), the rest are about as funny as cold porridge. Less so, in fact, come to think of it (having just remembered Spike Milligna’s “Ode to Porridge” or whatever it was). For some of them, though, I think that’s a cultural thing. Victoria Wood is a prime example. I can see why she thinks what she is doing is funny, but I have never met anyone who agreed with her who was not from England. Same goes for Peter Kay, as I commented recently following his Who appearance. The recent programme on double-acts featured several (notably Mike & Bernie Winters and Cannon & Ball) who were huge hits in England but not up here.

    • This is interesting and to a degree I agree about the idea of a homogeneous British humour. I wonder if the regional variation may form part of the subtext for the series.
      In relation to humour I am not sure whether generalisations can be made, or whether it is more appropriate to look at age or class (as matters of shared background) in hunting for similarities. I am a thirty something Scot originally from the borders but have spent half of my life in the central belt (both sides and now happily in between). I enjoy Peter Kay (the thirdfunniest show I have seen on the Fringe was his Perrier (or new stand up) nominated year – my second favourite was the first time I saw Bruce Morton, my favourite was Cluub Zarathustra by Simon Munnery, Stewart Lee and Kevin Eldon). However, I know that I like Peter Kay partly because he pushes lots of buttons that make me laugh, through shared television experiences and similar schooling experiences in my formative years. I have never found Chewin the Fat funny, although can see why others – including my dad – would like it. The buttons they press don’t work for me.
      I think a lot of the success of comedy is through recognition. But won;t go on for fear that over-analysis here will destroy what’s left of the Lenny Henry joke… (which my wife thought was rubbish in any event).

      • tanngrisnir says:

        Yes, I must say that most of Chewing The Fat leaves me cold, too. I think that is because it is just not very good, as opposed to any cultural thing.
        On the other hand, there are those who crop up occasionally whose appeal seems to cover most people in most places, Morecambe and Wise and their height come to mind. Them apart, I suspect it is a matter where age, class and regional cultural specifics come in to play.

        • I wonder if the Morecambe and Wise phenomenon was partly down to their own roots in touring before having the breakthrough, and touring at a time where live entertainment rather than TV was important? Now, many comics have a successful stand up show (often at Edinburgh) and get a TV show on the back of it. Their material is never subjected to a broader demographic before TV exposure as the demographic that attends the clubs is a narrow one. The TV exposure theoretically provides the wider demographic, but TV shows are targeted and marketed to certain audiences and then are not given time to bed in if they do not work immediately.

          • tanngrisnir says:

            I think their touring years were crucial in honing their professionalism, which stood them in very good stead, but not everyone who toured as they did ended up so widely popular (such as Mike & Bernie Winters).

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