When I was a Freshman in college one of my professors thought it would be clever to open his first class with a question.
“Does anyone here have an inferiority complex?”
From my seat in the back row I had the urge to raise my hand and say, “I do, but it’s not a very good one,” but because this was true I didn’t do it.
A while back I posed the question: Why don’t we have any comedy panel shows in the United States? Panel shows are popular in the UK. They have a theme and are organized something like game shows, but the game is really an excuse for comedians to play off each other.
I wondered why the show QI in particular, which had gone through 12 seasons at the time, hadn’t been replicated with an American version as, say, The Office or Undercover Boss has in this direction or Law and Order in the other direction.
My working theory at the time was that our culture is more competitive and that a show that is formatted as a game in which the score is totally irrelevant doesn’t seem appealing. One commenter, who I think was British– or at least not American– based on his spelling of “defence”– chalked it up to different senses of humor on the two sides of the Atlantic. (A subject I’ve pondered here as well.)
What was more interesting to me were the comments posted by Americans. (I am assuming they are Americans because they used “we” when speaking of our fine nation.) One posited that our talk shows are a form of marketing, and movie stars– who only go on the shows to plug their projects–aren’t witty enough for the format. Another suggested that in America “everything has to brought down to the lowest common denominator” because we have such a diverse audience.
What strikes me is that both seem to assume that if some form of entertainment exists in England, but not here, it must be more witty and sophisticated. (You know, like Benny Hill.)
My fellow Americans, we have never been known for our lack of self-confidence. But according to Psychology Today, when an American hears a British accent, he attributes a few more IQ points to the speaker. Even, it seems, when he is making fart jokes. Why is that?