Pee Tree Breeteesh Umaure
In this course, our objectives will be to get to grips with an essential cultural aspect of Britain, namely its comic output. More particularly, our aim is to spend time together laughing, failing which we’ll try to understand why others – principally the Brits – are laughing when you are not. In doing so, we hope to be able to get closer to a culture and its inhabitants, to understand them better, to communicate with them better.
In this P3 part of the course, we’ll study a selection of Britain’s favourite sitcoms (radio and tv) over the last sixty years. Also making an appearance will be BBC Radio 4 panel games (Just a Minute, I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue) , the 1970’s innovators ( Billy Connolly and The Monty Pythons), comic pairs, stand-up comics, prime time ‘non-comic’ TV broadcasts, impressionists, and the London 2012 Olympics. In the second week, we’ll have a cup of tea and a biscuit and decide together what we fancy doing for the rest of the time.
Many of the shows will test your listening skills to the utmost, so to help, we’ll look at a number of features of spoken English that frequently cause difficulties. We’ll read or listen to documents on the shows and their cultural backgrounds. To help in our analysis and understanding, we’ll call on a Pantheon of thinkers to enlighten our way (Aristotle, Hobbes, Bergson, Cleese). By the end of the course, you should have gone some way to understanding – from the inside, as it were – something about the British psyche. If we have time, we’ll read a bit of funny stuff, play some games, and try to make sense of some incomprehensible but brilliant stand-ups.
Continuous assessment will include assessment of your active participation in class discussions. Out-of-class assignments will include one character study and for the weally keen, an analytical essay. Students will have the opportunity to contribute to X-Tras, the Polytechnique comedy start-up sitcom writing machine. We start each class by giving you the opportunity to become a stand-up comic yourself in the weekly Djoke Djuty.