Growth of British Comedy


Growthof British Comedy

(ComedyFestival, 2015)

Growthof British Comedy

Sincethe Second World War, the British culture has influenced the world inmany ways in diverse dimensions of life. One of the main areas ofculture that Britain has dominated in the world is in theentertainment industry, and particularly media and video industry. Inthis sector, comedy stands out as one of the most conspicuouselements of British culture in terms of entertaining the locals andthe world. The current success in British comedy is marked by severalworld class comedy shows, radio programs, films and videos that comefrom Britain. This paper seeks to understand the factors that haveinfluenced the growth of British comedy to become an influencing theworld since the Second World War.

Oneof the main factors that influenced the growth of British comedyafter the Second World War is the strong foundation laid by theprevious British authors, actors and comedians (Sam, 2009). Prior tothe world war, Britain was a central part of the world literature, inboth comedy and general literature. Britain boasts of strong writerslike Shakespeare, whose writings make British comedy to date back tocenturies ago (Friedman, 2009). During the 18thcentury, satire was born in the British literature, which gave birthto the element of comedy in the British entertainment industry,especially cartoons. In the 19thcentury, comedy grew stronger with the establishment of comedy showslike the pantomime.According to Hunterand Porter (2009),these were among the first major developments in British comedy.

Inaddition, the growth of British comedy was strongly influenced by theexistence of a strong humorous style of the British culture.According to Sam (2009), the British humor was preserved from theearly centuries by the rich British folklore, songs and literature.This gave the modern comedy in Britain a strong foundation to baseits growth on. The developments of comedy in the period prior to theSecond World War inspired the emergence of new ideas in the mid andlate twentieth century from the old cultural styles (Hunter&amp Porter, 2009).The existence of famous comic writers, actors and comedians inBritain gave the basis for the development of the British comedyafter the Second World War.

Anotherof the main factors that has led to the growth of British comedy isthe emergence of able and willing comedians in the Britishentertainment scene. These comedians are not only talented but alsoproud to present the typical British culture and style of acting andcomedy. According to Will (2013), most actors in the British culturein comedy by acting in a manner that makes their style unique andcharacteristic of the British social aspects learned from. Forinstance, the use of the British accent in their acting and in theircommunication skills is evident in British comedy (Reach, 2013). Theemergence of such actors helped the British film industry to getpeople to expose the content that is unique to the English cultureand not influenced by other cultures like American.

Someof the famous comedians that emerged significant in the industryinclude Rowan Atkinson, John Cleese, Ricky Gervais, Jimmy Carr,David Mitchell, Billy Connolly and Mr. Bean. A significantcontributor to British comedy was Mel Smith (Will, 2013). Accordingto Will (2013),Ricky Gervais, Karl Pilkingtonm Sasha Baron Cohen and Al Murraylearned their comedy from Mel Smith, who also learned from thosebefore him. In the same way, comedy series like the DoctorSeries,and St.Triansfilm developed into strong and famous comedy shows in Britain and inthe world(Hunter&amp Porter, 2009).These famous actors and comedians understood the British culture andclearly distinguished it from other comedies worldwide. Thisinfluenced the growth of British comedy as a unique, uncorruptedBritish entertainment piece.

Thegrowth of the British media is one of the main factors thatinfluenced the growth and development of British comedy into a globalattraction. The British media had not grown much before the SecondWorld War, as technology and new aspects of communication were inexistence (Friedman, 2009). With the growth of the television as amass communication media, comedy was able to reach much audience inBritain and in the world. This led to the growth of comedy as moreand more people became lovers of British comedy as well as thesupporters. The media exposed the talent in British comedy and gavepeople a chance to express the British culture in a comic way throughthe print, audio and visual media.

Theemergence of strong media houses also supported to generate comedyideas and in the production of comedy shows in Britain. A largebroadcasting house like the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)invested in comedy shows and in comedians. This gave the artists theopportunity and support to actualize their ideas through theplatforms provided by the media house. Other media houses include theITV, Guardian, Virgin media and UKTV among others. The growth ofthese television stations created a need for entertainment for theviewers. The competition among them led them to develop betterprograms as they sought an audience in Britain and in the world (Sam,2009). One of the areas of investing was in comedy, so as to keeppeople tuned to them as the preferred channels. As a result, Britishcomedy grew due to the exposure by the developing British and foreignmedia.

Developmentin technology has greatly influenced the growth of British comedy.This is because technology is applicable in most of the media thatcomedy is created, produced and channeled to. Technology made it easyto access comedy productions by the audience, through the DVD mediaand other playback options (Sam, 2009). Technology also influencedthe delivery of comedy programs and shows by the television stationsin a manner that the audience could enjoy. Through technology,television programs have become clearer, more entertaining andavailable to a large number of audiences (LLC Books, 2010). This isbecause the use of modern technology like the internet has opened theBritish comedy to the world audience.

Technologyhas significantly influenced the production of the British comedyshows and films. Technology made it easier to produce comedy films,plays and use animations to enrich comedy videos and films to appealto the audience. In addition, technology influenced the growth ofcomedy production talent in Britain. This led to the growth of theindustry as more comedy shows were being produced by the talent thatwas being discovered continually (Hunter&amp Porter, 2009).Technological advancements in the entertainment industry havepromoted the use of new tools of acting and broadcasting to a largeaudience in real time. Through the internet streaming and livetelevision shows, comedians can transform comedy halls in Britain toa global audience.

Anotherfactor that influenced the growth of British industry is the growthin the audience that loved British comedy. The growth of theentertainment industry requires an audience because they form thedemand side of the industry, while actors and producers form thesupply side. In the case of British comedy, the growth of theaudience expanded the industry in two main ways. The first level wasthe growth of the local audience in Britain (Friedman, 2009). Thiswas a significant step towards consolidating the support for a moresupportive globally. The sale of British comedy films in the UnitedKingdom and globally to the audience earned the industry income togrow.

Thegrowth of income streams from the British comedy industry influencedthe development of the industry. Availability of income was possiblefrom the growth in the audience base that grew larger and larger,both locally and globally. According to LLC Books (2010), theexpansion of the television and radio media also expanded the reachof comedy with audience, who increased the income by the media housesfrom advertising (Sam, 2009). This translated to more earnings forcomedians who concentrated on producing more comedy. As a result,comedians took comedy as their profession and their income earner.This led to the growth of comedy as an industry in the society.

Thegrowth of the industry was further influenced by the adoption ofBritish comedy as a global style of doing comedy, especially in othercountries. Large film industries in other countries like Hollywood inAmerica have embraced British comedy as part of their film making(Sam, 2009). This has presented British comedy as part of the worldcomedy, which gives the chance for the British culture to influencethe world.


Britishcomedy is one of the most conspicuous aspects of entertainment fromBritain that have portrayed the British culture to the world. Britishcomedy reflects a culture that has lasted for centuries through thepreservation by skilled and talented writers, authors and folklore.The growth of British comedy from the centuries and through the worldwars to the current is founded on the rich British culture that ispresented by famous comedians and actors. The growth of the comedy tothe current success is influenced by the growth of the mediaindustry, the emergence of talented comedians, growth of the audienceand developments in technology. Through these developments, theaudience has expanded to global following that translates to higherrevenue for comedians. These factors have all influenced the growthof British comedy since the Second World War into a globallycelebrated aspect of British culture.


Friedman,S. (2009). LegitimatingA Discredited Art Form: The Changing Field Of British ComedyEdinburgh: University of Edinburgh

Hunter,Q., &amp Porter, L. (2009). BritishComedy Cinema.London: Routledge

LLCBooks, 2010. BritishComedy and Humour: Postcard, Colemanballs, British Comedy, BritishComedy Awards, British Humour, Treacle Mining.London: General Books LLC

Sam,F. (2009). Comedyand Distinction: The Cultural Currency of a ‘Good’ Sense ofHumour. London:Routledge

ComdyFestival, 2015, ItsBritish Comedy.Retrieved From,&lt 28, 2015

Reach,G. (2013). “TheSecret of British Culture,”Retrieved From, YouTube,&lt June 28, 2015

Will,B. (2013). MelSmith, Comedy and the Evolution of British Culture,Retrieved From,&lt 28, 2015