It is a rare breed of comedians that can make an audience of over 1.5 million laugh WITHOUT emotionally harming another, swearing or being crude. Rather than taking the “butt of the joke” tactic in order to make someone laugh, I explore Hamish and And’s different approach on comedy and how it transfers through different cultures.
Hamish and Andy are Australian comedians who started their career as radio hosts. As their popularity of their radio show grew, so did their opportunities flourished with numerous guest appearances, and this eventually led to the start of their hit series “Gap Year”.
“Gap year” follows Aussie stereotypes Hamish and Andy on their journey to and through various international locations, experiencing the culture and creating their own antics along the way. After their first Gap Year in 2011 was a success, it was followed by Euro Gap Year (2012), Gap Year Asia(2013) and the most current series Gap Year South Africa. One of the most loved sections that was carried throughout the series was “cultural eating” in which Hamish or Andy would choose a cultural delicacy for the other to eat. One of the most revolting and most watched is Andy eating the Swedish delicacy ‘Surstromming’ (fermented herring- practically rotten fish).
It is in this clash of cultural delicacies that I resonate my idea with that of Susan Purdie’s comedy theory; that “comedy depends on the breaking of rules of language and behaviour”. The reason Australians find this funny is because our cultural norms and social rules are being broken, so we get the joke. We understand WHY this is funny. However the locals in this situation do not find eating the fish funny as it is a cultural norm. They find Andy’s REACTION to eating the fish funny. So although both cultures understand the comedic element of the situation, it is in these two different perspectives of the situation that we can see that comedy that involves rule breaking (rather than “butt of the joke” comedy) often does not fully transfer through cultures with large ideology differences. As these rules change (both languages and normalities), this comedy is more often than not lost in translation.
Purdie, S 1995, ‘Comedy: The Mastery of Discourse’, Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies, vol.1, no.1, pp.166-168.
Turnbull, S 2008, ‘It’s Like They Threw a Panther in the Air and Caught It in Embroidery’: Television Comedy in Translation’, Metro Magazine: Media and Education Magazine, No.159, pp.110-115.