As far as I can tell, despite our glorious history of comedy, we British are not renowned abroad for our humour. When colleagues first met me in the factory I briefly worked at, many expressed surprise that I wasn’t “serious”, a point they often emphasised by miming the wearing of a tie. I don’t know where this stereotype comes from – if they were surprised by my sobriety I might have better understood their confusion.
One of the many baffling aspects of living in a foreign country is trying to understand the nature of native comedy. When my wife, Show, lived in
The League of Gentlemen may be tasteless, but it is easy to grasp why it is funny to aficionados. The acting is superb, the characters way beyond grotesque, the catchphrases memorable and, well, catchy (“This is a local shop”, etc). I have been studying the local comedy here for nigh on six years, and I must admit to remaining singularly unread in the ways of Brazilian burlesque.
The pictured double act are stars of Pánico na TV, from left to right, Repórter Vesgo (“The Cross-Eyed Reporter”, which he apparently isn’t) and Silvio (an impersonation of Silvio Santos, a septuagenarian TV host and owner of the second-largest TV station, SBT - the teeth are not his own, incidentally, and I have my suspicions that he may be using a syrup too). Their job is to go to famous parties, try to gain access and/or hang around outside and insult arriving celebrities. Those who react badly are urged to put on the “Sandals of Humility”, which can be amusing at times, especially when Vesgo is physically assaulted and some of the more tedious celebs make fools of themselves. They are essentially Brazilian versions of English comedian Paul Kaye’s character Dennis Pennis, who did much the same on both sides of the
At the other end of the scale comes Saturday night’s prime time Zorra Total (“Total Old Vixen”, if my dictionary is to be trusted). This is a sketch show written, apparently, by German infants who live in northern
Finally on this whistle-stop tour of South American jocularity, there is Tiririca. He is a mustachioed loon complete with funny hat who also engages in rambling monologues, but winds up taking preposterous tangents and never reaches any comprehensible conclusion. He is probably funny because he is relieved of the obligation of delivering a suitably droll punch line.
In my humble opinion, all Brazilian comedy scriptwriters should be sacked forthwith and replaced by chimps with typewriters and flexible deadlines.
What is your favourite comedy? Have you ever watched a Brazilian TV comedy? Are you a German infant looking for a career in sitcom, resident in