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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

About Alan Bennett

Alan Bennett, the author of The Uncommon Reader, which is the Fairfax County Public Library’s All Fairfax Reads selection, has a long and distinguished career in his native Great Britain. Now in his 70s, Alan Bennett began his writing career in his mid-20s. By day, he was an academic at Oxford, teaching medieval history and by night, he was writing comedy revues for London’s clubs.

His first success came with “Beyond the Fringe,” a comedy revue first seen at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival which went on to the West End in London and finally to Broadway. It was the creation of two Oxford graduates: Bennett and Dudley Moore and two from Cambridge: Jonathan Miller and Peter Cook. The show paved the way for satiric American TV shows of the 60s and 70s, such as Rowen and Martin's Laugh-In, the Smothers Brothers and a little later, Saturday Night Live. And, of course, Monty Python's Flying Circus is also a descendant of the Fringe sketches.

Bennett went on to an acclaimed career as a playwright for stage, TV and film. Two of his plays, "The Madness of George III" and "The History Boys" were made into films. “The History Boys” earned six Tony Awards when it appeared on Broadway in 2006. His first novella, The Clothes They Stood Up In was as witty as The Uncommon Reader and was a “Today Show” book club selection.

For more by Bennett, browse these books:

Untold Stories (Memoir)

The Clothes They Stood Up In; and The Lady in the Van

The Laying On of Hands: Stories
Writing Home (Memoir)

British humor is said to use puns, nonsense, black humor, eccentricity, satire and sarcasm, self-deprecation, understatement and irony. Above all, it tends to be verbal.

Do you agree? Is American humor much different?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In some ways I like the subtleness of British humor -- the "understatement." American humor is more direct. But, I disagree that British humor is all verbal. There are an awful lot of pratfalls in Monty Python sketches.