In general, I think us Brits are pretty good at laughing at ourselves, both individually and as a nation. British comedians will often make comparisons between us and other nationalities, particularly Americans, and we’re quite happy to recognise our shortcomings and laugh heartily at them. Two particular examples spring to mind. I can’t remember who said them so I can’t give them proper credit, but if either of the comedians who said one of these is reading this and would like to make themselves known to me, they should do so right away…
EXAMPLE ONE – Us Brits just don’t know how to celebrate like the Americans do. If we had been the first to land on the moon, we wouldn’t have proudly planted a flag of our nation in the ground, no, we’d have put up a sign saying ‘Caution: Uneven Surface’.
EXAMPLE TWO – You have to feel sorry for our police over here and the powers they have available to them. If an American cop is faced with a dangerous criminal he can shout “Stop or I’ll shoot!”. Over here they shout “Stop or I’ll shout ‘stop’ again!”.
English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish comedians are all very good at mocking their own people and laughing. Of course nobody must mock anyone else’s people, just their own, and as long as everyone understands that then we can all laugh together and get along just fine. People outside of the UK might assume that there can be inter-mocking amongst the English/Irish/Scottish/Welsh, but no, self-mocking only is allowed.
I will quite readily admit it when I’ve done or said something stupid; anyone who knows me well will confirm that this happens on a pretty regular basis. I’ll admit these things and laugh, and if others laugh too that’s great. I think it’s important to be able to laugh at yourself – there is really no point in taking yourself too seriously, nobody else does.
For example, I’m not very good at getting angry and shouting, I usually get it all wrong, and these are occasions that are recounted to others with much laughter for ever more. My kids love to tell people about the time I shouted at my daughter “No, I don’t want you to say sorry, I want you to apologise to me!”. And I’m sure my ex boyfriend still has a chuckle about the time in mid argument when I shouted “Why do you always have to act like a complete and utter thacko!” – I tried to go with it and pretend that thacko was a real word, but it was too late. I’m just no good at arguing, if I’m not stumbling over my words then I’m saying completely ridiculous things. Like the time with a different ex when we had a massive argument about whose fault it was that a pork chop had been left in the grill pan overnight instead of being put in the fridge; as if the argument wasn’t ridiculous enough in itself, at one point I shouted “Well I hope you’re pleased with yourself because I’m going to have to go out and get a second job now to pay for that wasted pork chop!”.
I also get it all wrong when I’m trying to apply logic to situations. On a trip to Orlando several years back, we were all complaining about how the theme parks seem to have plenty of drinking fountains dotted around, except when you’re thirsty and then you can’t find one. I helpfully piped up, “I know what we should do! Every time we see a fountain, we should have a little drink out of it, so that later if we get thirsty and can’t find one, it won’t matter!”. Right.
Are you good at laughing at yourself? For those of you outside the UK, are your nations good at laughing at themselves collectively?