Arts & Culture

Everything you need to know about British humour

We Brits are famous for many things. First, there’s our language, which is spoken throughout the world. And everybody knows every Brit loves a hot cup of tea. Then, of course, there’s culture and entertainment like the Premier League, Harry Potter and Dr Who. But if there’s one thing we’re especially proud of, it’s our sense of humour.

British humour can often be misunderstood by non-Brits. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell whether we’re actually joking. And some people are astounded by our ability to find comedy in just about every situation, even miserable ones. So, what are the fundamentals of British humour? Just for a laugh, let’s look at why our sense of humour is so widely revered.

Brits like to laugh at themselves

In the UK, you can’t take yourself too seriously. We love to laugh at our own flaws and make light of our failures. It’s this self-deprecating humour that makes us seem more approachable, humble and relatable. Embarrassing moments, awkward encounters and clumsiness are all considered funny here in Britain. So, the next time you slip up in the UK, turn it into a joke. There’s no need to let misery drag you down when you can laugh instead.

Being mildly offensive can be a sign of closeness

When we say offensive, we don’t mean downright vulgar. But we certainly like to happily ‘offend’ those close to us with witty, tongue-in-cheek remarks. In fact, when a Brit throws a light-hearted insult your way, it’s a sign you’ve earned their respect. If you make a mistake and somebody responds with “well, that was clever!”, there’s no need to be alarmed. It’s all in the name of fun.

We love sarcasm and irony

Some people say sarcasm is the lowest form of wit. We Brits would disagree. The British use sarcasm and irony in such a way that it can be hard to tell whether we’re joking or not. But if a statement is made with a deadpan delivery followed by a cheeky grin, you’ve probably just heard a classic example of British humour.

The British find humour in everything

It’s true that we can laugh at just about any situation. Making jokes is like a form of medicine in the UK. Watch just about any British comedy, and you’ll notice there’s rarely a happy ending. Instead, we like to laugh at unfortunate situations. That’s why there’s so much misfortune and failure in our comedy TV shows. We like to think we’re realists. Misery can’t always be avoided, so it might as well be laughed at.

The Great British pun

Who doesn’t enjoy hearing a good pun from time to time? In the UK, we love puns so much that we have an annual UK Pun Championship. A pun is essentially a joke that uses the different meanings of a word or similar-sounding words for humour. For example: “Last week I pulled a muscle. I’m now banned from the aquarium.”