The Use of Stereotypes to Create Comedy in Little Britain and Shameless
A stereotype is a reflection of ideas that people hold about others
that are different to them. They can be words or phrases, a picture,
or words and pictures. The picture created by the stereotype can be
recognised by others who share the same view. For example, “all
intelligent people wear glasses”.
Stereotypes are used in comedy because they provide a quick,
recognisable identity for a group or individual that is noticeable for
what they are, or what they believe in. Due to the short nature of
comedy sketches, stereotypes are excellent to use. They provide a
burst of instantly understandable comedy entertainment.
An example of film stereotypical comedy is ‘The Godfather’. All
Italian- Americans are gangsters. We think of Italians as having Mafia
connections or organised crime links. Another example of stereotypes
in media is ‘Eastenders’, which stereotypes cockney Londoners.
In British television comedy, ‘Kevin and Perry’ portray teenage
stereotypes. Such as teenagers being argumentative and not caring
about their appearance. In addition to this, a promiscuous teenage
stereotype is also used. ‘One Foot in the Grave’, is another British
comedy that uses many stereotypes such as old people. Showing the
elderly, for example as nosy and grumpy.
To demonstrate how British television comedies use stereotypes of
people and places to create amusement this essay will analyse ‘Little
Britain’ and ‘Shameless’. It will focus on specific characters and
situations to establish how stereotypes are used to create comedy.
‘Little Britain’ is a hilarious comedy based around and about Britain.
The programme was originally on BBC Radio Four, but as it became
successful it was transferred to BBC Three as a comedy sketch show, in
October 2003. Again, the show’s popularity increased. So it was
decided to put in on BBC One. But due to the explicit content of some
scenes, they were edited out, as not to offend , it was believed to be
“unsuitable for a mainstream audience”. Main stars of the show are
Matt Lucas and David Williams. An overview of the scenes is provided
by the narrator, Tom Baker.
As the “Little Britain” comedy sketches are reasonably short,
stereotypes are used to provide an explosive burst of identifiable
comedy to have the audience laughing from the beginning. Examples of
this are characters such as Daffyd- the homosexual Welsh man. It is
noticeable he is homosexual, because a homosexual stereotype is used,
by his tight leather clothes and feminine actions and voice. Another
stereotype is the ‘Min Mart’ sketch, in which an Asian man runs a
shop. It shows him as inquisitive and eager to sell his goods. He also
is eager to make chitchat with customers. This is a typical stereotype
of Asian people...