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What Is American Humor?(九年级阅读)  

2016-02-03 19:37:54|  分类: 九年级阅读 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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       Who’s Neil? Neil is Neil Wetenkamp, an American-born high school teacher in Shanghai who writes, draws, and loves answering your questions.
    Today’s question comes from a student who was having difficulty understanding an American TV sitcom.
       What Is American Humor?
       Humor is a very subjective thing, and not only changes from place to place but from person to person. Anyone that has seen American television, though, knows that there are some differences with Chinese humor. Generally speaking, American humor tends to be about what Americans see and showing how things may be ridiculous or taken too far.
  A great example of this is in sitcoms[1]such as the popular show Friends(《老友记》),used for years as an English language learning tool. Audiences would watch the characters act through daily events and laugh when they saw misunderstandings and unexpected twists. Though the humor is American, the show has enough commonality(共性) with international audiences that it is one of the most popular sitcoms in the world.
  Another example of situational humor is the American show The Office(《办公室》). Recreated for American audiences from the British show of the same name, the American version of The Office is harder to appreciate for Chinese audiences (interestingly, American audiences had difficulty with the British version of the show). For The Office the situation is a branch office for a paper company, and the characters act out things people see in the office. The reason many international audiences have difficulty understanding the humor of the show is that the humor is full of references to American culture, physical humor, irony[2], sarcasm[3], and exaggeration[4], all of which are expressed in an American way. Most cultures have all of those kinds of humor, but they may be expressed differently in language and action.
  Naturally, sitcoms are just one part of American humor. Stand-up (stand-up comedians, 独角喜剧) and improv(improvisation groups, 即兴表演) regularly use references to American culture as part of their humor. Understanding the humor of contemporary stand-up comedians and improv groups requires not only an understanding of what Americans are thinking about, but also how slang(俚语) is used.
  An insight into satire[5]and comedy that is more appropriate for high school students would be Saturday Night Live(《周六夜现场》),a weekly comedy show that satirizes American culture and events through stand-up and short plays called “skits (滑稽短剧).” Designed for television audiences, the show also features a number of famous comedians, musicians and celebrities.
  American humor, like each culture’s humor, has its own way of making people laugh. The best way to learn more about American humor is to watch it. Over time, you will start laughing too. Until the next question, Neil Have a question?Email me at neweteaches@gmail.comand your question may just be the next Ask Neil! Footnotes: [1]situational comedy(情景喜剧): a show that takes place in a single situation or setting [2] irony(反语):the opposite of what you expect [3]sarcasm(讽刺):mocking or using irony to say something bad about someone or something [4] exaggeration: making things seem larger than they are [5]satire(讽刺):making fun of something by exaggerating or acting it out
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