Thanks to Cara Delevingne, we’re wondering: What is ‘British humour’ anyway?

If you watched her interview with “Good Day Sacramento” like so many celebrity-watchers did, you might have come away thinking a bunch of things about Cara Delevingne: Maybe she’s not a morning person. Maybe she doesn’t like being called “Carla.” Or maybe she’s just unpleasant.

And if you ask her, she’d tell you something else. After a clip of Delevingne enduring an interview with an almost comically archetypal set of local morning news anchors went viral Wednesday, Delevingne tweeted a response. (The anchors had some words for Delevingne after she signed off. One of them declared, “She was in a MOOD!”)

“Some people just don’t understand sarcasm or the British sense of humour,” she said.

Delevingne’s certainly not the first British celebrity to make such a claim, but what exactly does she mean? What is “British humour” anyway, and how does it differ from American humor, aside from the spelling?

Stephen Fry, the comic actor who starred with Hugh Laurie in “Jeeves and Wooster,” had this to say about the matter in 2012:

There is a sense of original sin in Europe, this bizarre theory that I won’t push to its limit, but when it comes to comedy, I think it’s satisfactorily obvious that the American comic hero is a wisecracker who is above his material and who is above the idiots around him. … You know that scene in ‘Animal House’ where there’s a fellow playing folk music on a guitar and John Belushi picks up the guitar and destroys it, and the cinema loves it because he just smashes it and wiggles his eyebrows at the camera?

Everyone says, ‘God, he’s so great.’ Well, the British comedian would want to play the folk singer. We want to play the failure. All the great British comic heroes are people who want life to be better and on whom life craps from a terrible height and whose sense of dignity is constantly compromised by the world letting them down.

They are Authur Lowe in ‘Dad’s Army.’ They are Anthony Aloysius Hancock. They are Basil Fawlty. They are Del Boy. They are Blackadder. They’re not quite the upper echelons and they’re trying to be decent and right. They’re trying to be proper. They’re even David Brent from ‘The Office.’ And their lack of dignity is embarrassing. They are a failure. They are an utter failure. They’re brought up to expect empire and respect and decency and being able to wear a blazer in public and everyone around them just goes pffffft! Whereas the American hero is the smart-talking. He’s Jim Carrey and he’s Ben Stiller and he’s whoever. They just go all the way back. And they can wisecrack their way out of any situation. They win the girl. They’re smarter. They’ve got the biggest knob in the room. The British guy arrives in the room and says, ‘Oh my God, I’ve left my knob behind.’

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