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A comparative study of the language of the humour used between the characters of Basil Fawlty (Fawlty towers) and David Brent (The Office) Free essay! Download now

Home > University > English > A comparative study of the language of the humour used between the characters of Basil Fawlty (Fawlty towers) and David Brent (The Office)

A comparative study of the language of the humour used between the characters of Basil Fawlty (Fawlty towers) and David Brent (The Office)

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Downloads to date: N/A | Words: 2200 | Submitted: 31-Jan-2005
Spelling accuracy: N/A | Number of pages: | Filetype: Word .doc

Description

Basil does not insult other races, ages, or minority groups of whatever kind, he is like the sign outside the hotel that changes every episode- he shuffles meaning around with his mind, not his heart- and it is with our minds that Fawlty Towers asks us to enjoy and excuse it. Perhaps today’s world has become more “touchy feely”- perhaps we no longer recognize this word play as a viable kind of humour: it may be that today’s comedy is heavily informed by equality-anxiety and that this in turn dictates what we allow ourselves to laugh at.

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Fawlty Towers thematises language to a certain extent. Each episode begins with a comic anagram of the title, as if acting as an iconographic synecdoche or trope, representing the nature of the whole series. Basil’s unpleasant character is compensated for by his linguistic dexterity- we enjoy his cold wordy responses as we enjoy solving a crossword puzzle. In many ways the comic situations are created entirely by conflicting assumptions arising from translation problems- often literally. Subsequently, those less capable of communication or who do not quite fit in are often set up as the butt of jokes. Racism and ageism are cloaked in comedy in ways today’s shows would be much more wary of, as we see in “A Touch of Class”:

Basil: It's been there since Monday, Sybil... Tuesday... Wednesday... Friday... Sat -
[realizes Sybil is no longer there; goes across to Manuel who has come in carrying
three breakfast trays] Manuel! There - is - too - much - butter - on - those - trays.
Manuel: Que?
Basil: There is too much butter on those trays. [he points to each tray in turn]
Manuel: No, no, no, Senor!
...

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