I Don’t Get The Joke!!

It is clear to many that we all have our own idea of what humour is. Comedy shows must enable the humour to relate to their intended audience in order to receive its maximum impact. Comedy is a genre many people enjoy but there are some remakes of other comedy shows that have not understood how to convey that humour. Are they just not getting the joke?

Most of us have watched or heard of ‘Kath and Kim’. I myself enjoyed the series even though sometimes it was really ‘out there’ (which ironically is the point of the show). ‘Kath and Kim’ did so well in Australia with their ironic humour, memorable sayings and that muffin top that made the show what it is today- down right ‘un-ewesual’ but funny. Unfortunately I wish I could say the same about the American version of ‘Kath and Kim’ but without the ironic humour it did not have the same affect. For the American ‘Kath and Kim’ to have worked they needed to understand the cultural differences and apply this understanding when selecting the cast and developing the staging for the production.


This fail in translation can also be seen in the movie ‘Death at a funeral’, the British version was a success however the American version dug its own grave.

Fortunately for us there are shows out there that have managed to get it right and understood exactly how to make it work.

“Comedy plays an absolutely pivotal role in the construction of national identity because it invites us to belong by sharing the joke” (Turnbull, S). The show ‘The Office’ hit the right mark with both the British and American versions.

brentThe Office UK and US version

Both the dry humour of the UK version and the wacky humour of the US version adapted to the understandings of the audiences. The reason the US version of ‘The Office’ managed to remake the British version with success, was because they understood the idea of translating the humour to suit their American audience whilst still maintaining the British comedic idiosyncrasies.

Do you get it yet?

Turnbull, S. “Television comedy in translation” accessed through reader


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