Are British series the most clever sources of comedy known to man?

By Abigail Roberts and Izabella Tzolis




Sacha Baren Cohen: Specifically “Who Is America”

Sacha Baren Cohen perhaps challenges the genius of Chris Lilley. Similarly, to Chris, he disguises himself as various characters and has created many series with short episodic scenes featuring these characters. The British comedian interviews well-known guests with intense opinions or political views… who are oblivious to the fact that he is acting and essentially setting them up to say things which expose them or make fun of them, without them realising it. Although his characters appear completely vague and idiotic, he uses this appearance to distract his interviewees that his character is perhaps exposing them, undermining them and making a point. Some of the characters he has played from “Da Ali G Show,” “Bruno” (movie) and “Borat” (also movie), have included Ali G: a British rapper who frequently street terms, Borat: a heavily offensive man from Kazakhstan who lacks any sensitivity or awareness of the American culture yet interviews Americans, and Bruno: a… flamboyant fashion journalist from Austria, specifically mocking the fashion industry. However, I would recommend watching any of Cohen’s series with your parent’s permission as some content may be slightly controversial.

However, the most admirable pieces of Cohen’s work is “Who Is America?”. The show was released this year on Stan, and is not only highly provocative, but severely relevant for the current gun politics in America. He plays multiple characters, such as severely politically correct man, a recently freed prisoner, and a pro-gun anti-terrorist expert. Just recently, a failed US Republican Senate Candidate named Roy Moore (who has faced sexual assault allegations) is allegedly suing Sacha Baren Cohen for pranking him without Moore realising it. However, the show will lead you to question: why do these interviewees fall for these pranks and truly believe they are being taken seriously? If you would love to witness those in high positions of power, some with strong and intensely conservative opinions; being humiliated for their extreme opinions without realising it… this is the show to watch.


Derren Brown: Specifically “The Push”

Derren Brown is what one would consider the King of Social experiments and creates a large number of mind-manipulating documentaries. Specifically, one of his more recent and shocking documentaries was “The Push” and can be accessed on Netflix, where he invites regular well-meaning people to a charity event, with hidden cameras, to determine whether social pressures can push them to a point in which they believe they are pushing someone off a building (spoiler: no one is harmed). This documentary, and all of his other documentaries, causes any viewer to question how susceptible we are to manipulation, and quite frankly whether human beings behave like sheep without knowing it. Brown has made an individual confess to a murder they didn’t commit, has made a lay-about think they were experiencing the end of the world, caused every customer in a shopping centre to involuntarily raise their hand after talking over a loudspeaker, and can even cause someone to temporarily fall asleep through a muttering on phone call. If you are interested in the phycological extremes the human mind can endure and the lack of control we may really have over our actions, this show is one to watch… and is additionally a warning of the capability those in power have to control us without us realising us at all.



Louis Theroux Documentaries

Tired of hearing about British men who demonstrate the flaws in human nature through interacting with those unaware they are being set-up? Well, too bad. Just like Sacha Baren Cohen and Derren Brown, Louis Theroux’s people skills are his best asset… his gentle and innocent appearance may be less deceptive than the appearance of Brown and Cohen. However, he slightly uses his charm to get people to reveal their extremist opinions or actions. Theroux is a highly-intelligent documentary maker and journalist who interviews social groups who are isolated from society due to their extremely different views, whether that be religious, political, cults, racists, homophobes, hippies, etc. He has gone to the extremes to gain the full insight, for example spending time with the Westboro Baptist Church, in dangerous countries, or in jails. Some of his best documentaries have included “My Scientology Movie,” “The Most Hated Family in America,” “Louis and the Nazis,” “Behind Bars,” “Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends” and “The Ultra Zionists” … to name a few. His documentaries are less comedic than that of the other series outlined in this article, however are highly interesting and engaging, allowing viewers to learn about extremities all over the world. His documentaries can be found on Youtube and on Apple Movies.



“The IT Crowd”

“The IT Crowd” is a short British comedic series on Netflix, which takes a few episodes to get into, however can be highly enjoyed when watched with family especially. It is about three contrasting personalities who work in the IT department in the basement in the bottom of the building of a large company: Roy, Jen and Moss. Moss is especially the most entertaining character: as although he has a complete inability to understand others, he can often be quite emotional and sensitive – in a severely awkward and robotic way… perhaps a funnier version of “The Big Bang Theory”’s Sheldon. The episodes are always funniest at the end, where each aspect of that episode begins to merge into a single joke, often summarised by a single and hilarious line. This series is for anyone with a great sense of humour, and anyone is able to relate to the awkwardness of the characters to a certain extent.



Baby Ballroom

Ladies may I present to you the newest reality dancing sensation, Baby Ballroom. Get ready for this show to waltz into your heart as you step into a world of kid’s ballroom dancing, where ambitious instructors, proud parents and pint-sized performers waltz to win. Baby ballroom follows fourteen pairs of the most exceptional young dancers demonstrate their skills, battle it out on the dance floor and dazzle with their steps. Adult dancers are put to shame as these talented kids perform everything from the waltz to the Mambo and the foxtrot to the Quickstep. The contestants hail from all over the UK and are the best of the absolute best. Many have been dancing for years, wining national and international awards, their lives revolve around dance and yours will too after watching this entertaining show that’s full of drama, fun and suspense.



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