The Foundation of British Comedy

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"Understatement is a form of irony in which a point is deliberately expressed as less, in magnitude, value, or importance, than it actually is" (Hamilton 55). 

As I read this quote, a revelation dawned upon me.  I suddenly realized that all British comedy, past or present, is based on understatement.  The movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail displays many great instances of understatement.  In one sence, King Arthur has to fight a black knight that is blocking the road.  The ensuing battle is hard-fought, but Arthur gains the upper hand and chops one of knight's arms off.  Thinking victory is at hand, Arthur stops the fight, but the black knight seems to want to start another.  Arthur wonders aloud how the knight can continue the battle with such a grivous injury, but the black knight retrots, "Tis only a flesh wound!"  To say this remark was an understatement would, well, be an understatement!

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3 Comments

HAHAHA! That is my FAVORITE part of Monty Python. Well that part in the part (that goes along with what you're saying) when they see that little bunny and think it won't hurt them and then it ends up being a beast...yeah - good times, great comparision.

Ha ha! Good one, Dr. Jerz:-)

And Ethan, you are right, Monty Python is a great example of understatement. But I'll tell you what else I love, the opposite of understatement--hyperbole.

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This page contains a single entry by EthanShepley published on February 26, 2008 6:50 PM.

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