SNL’s Reception Overseas Might Surprise You


Sketch comedy is one of the most famous forms of comedy around the world. Shows such as Britain’s Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Canada’s The Kids in the Hall have proven international successes due to their reliance on self-control and generality. Praising “The Kids in the Hall,” Rolling Stone noted that the series “never relied on pop culture references or celebrity impressions to make people laugh,” a far cry from the humor that “SNL” came up with brings the table.

Speaking to The Independent about the show’s reception abroad, British Comedy Guide editor Mark Boosley suggested that “familiarity with any comedy format is really important” and that audiences abroad “know the characters beforehand got to [they] find her funny.” Because the humor of “SNL” depends on a knowledge of American politics, culture and events, foreign audiences can feel alienated when stars like Tina Fey appear as Sarah Palin, a political figure who doesn’t know much about hold weight across the ocean.

In a Reddit thread discussing the value “SNL” holds in the eyes of UK audiences, u/MostTrifle pointed out that American humor can’t always be translated due to its reliance on cultural references. “But we could ‘get’ topics like right versus left, religion, weapons, etc. [we] don’t have the same shared experiences as US audiences and may not appreciate the humor in the same way,” the user wrote. They went on to mention how controversial issues in the United States that can provoke edgy jokes can come across as crass or jarring to British audiences used to open discussion.

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