How to “Catch” on to British Humor

By: Julia Sprowls

Studying abroad is an opportunity that students do not easily forget. We got in touch with Caroline Clunk, a student from GrandRapids, Michigan who studied abroad for a semester in Ormskirk, England. She said it was one of the best times of her life and something she will remember with great fondness forever.

“Nine years after I went, I still think and talk about it often,” said Clunk.

We often hear about sights seen and places toured while abroad, but we wanted to know where and how the use of humor overseas was shocking. We asked Caroline to shed some light on the humor she experienced while studying at Edge Hill College in the small market town of Ormskirk near the coast of northwestern England.

“British humor tends to be much drier and usually more sarcastic. It takes a bit to catch on, but it is not as “in your face” or low-brow as American humor,” said Clunk.

Clunk said British humor is often more implied and under-the surface than American humor. This is not the first time we’ve heard this. The students in our video, The Brit’s Wit, said very similar things when comparing the two. Luckily, Clunk said she was able to comfortably catch on and understand most British humor, as well as cultural differences.

“I have a great personal fondness for British culture, so I felt pretty comfortable in that environment. It took a while to get used to some things, like words that sound the same but mean different things and slang, but once I did it has stuck with me,” said Clunk.

Clunk described a particular instance where she was confused for us:

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Clunk was also in Dublin, Ireland and noticed Ireland’s cultural humor is pretty similar to dry British humor. She provided us with a photo she took of a billboard in Dublin that she thought was funny. Clunk said she still prefers a lot of British humor and colloquialisms to American ones!

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