As Eddie Izzard says “they say that the US and Britain are the two languages that are divided by the Atlantic ocean … you say ‘erb and we say Herb, because there’s a **** h in it.”
While I know a lot of Americans that like Monty Python, most I know don’t “get” British humor. Now I have a weird sense of humor. I have always liked British comedies that are a little more off beat. I have watched BBC news and TV programs for years because I love the subtle humor. The comedians I like tend to be in your face or more subtle story tellers. I don’t often laugh out loud but instead a small sarcastic smile from me is a huge win for someone telling a joke at a party. One of my goals for this trip to London was to try to get half price tickets to a ton of shows, especially some that were well regarded, and to try a British comedy live. Today I did both, twice.
This is my second day in London but the friend I am meeting from the US arrived today. Her flight landed around lunch and I was anticipating receiving a message from her after lunch. So I decided to start the day in the British Library and then hopefully meet up with her later in the day. I love Libraries. I love reading and I really love the smell of old books. I started at the library by going to the treasure room and learning about the Gutenberg bible and other beautiful old historic pages. Using the first of my Rick Steves Explore London podcasts I had a great, very informative walk through the journals of Newton to modern British novel writers.
I love Rick Steves podcasts. They are my newest cheap travel tip. When I visited Italy in 2010 with 2 friends we downloaded Rick Steves podcasts for all of the major sights (they are free in iTunes). Then using these podcasts we were able to save the 10+€ at each major museum and sight by not paying for the audio tour. In London a lot of the museums are free but having a guided audio tour is really a great way to get an overview of any museum.
Ok so done with sales pitch. After finishing my tour I got a cappuccino and sat next to the King’s Library reading my current book on Kindle. I had a very relaxing morning. But at this point I hadn’t heard from my friend so I decided to head back to my hotel so I would be close to her hotel so we could meet up. Now neither of us has a British phone. My Swedish phone has working GPS and connections to wifi but I didn’t pay to be able to use the phone out of range. I have an app that I use to txt with people who have US phone numbers and it works via wifi so my plan was that we would be able to txt via wifi. Unfortunately I forgot that my friend was staying in a Hilton (i.e. didn’t have free wifi in her hotel). After finally getting in touch with my friend we met up to discuss planning. She is in London on a trip with her old university to march in the New Years day parade and they had some planned trips/tours etc. Of course they had changed the times of the meetings, and the tours and …. After chatting we decided that I would swing by the hotel again around dinner since she didn’t really know any of the answers about the group schedule yet.
So after £4 of underground trips (to hotel and back out to the old city) I got a ticket to a well regarded comedy show (The Boy with Tape on His Face) for the matinee and then I went wandering through covenant garden’s market until the show started. The show was great. Definitely would recommend it but the best part was that the family sitting behind me. As I came in to sit down the mother said “Sometimes I wish I could come to a show with lots of shopping bags like a tourist.” Ouch. Then the mother sent the son to buy some bottled water and they had a long discussion about if the candy he got to eat were jellies, gummies, or something else. After this long conversation the son turns to the daughter and complains about the mother and the sister says “she is your mother, and besides you started it by correcting her.” OMG I have found the British copy of my family.
After the show I grabbed the underground back to my friend’s hotel and we had a quick planning meeting while I ate some “Texas Nachos” which were neither Texan nor nachos but were the only thing that were not deep fried on the sports bar menu.
So again after £4 of underground trips I was back in the theater district for another show. I saw Yes, Prime Minister. Which I think that if you know nothing about British politics (ahem, Americans) would be slightly funny, in a slapstick comedy way but wouldn’t be actually funny. It was really hilarious and incredibly well acted.
Overall a great day in British comedy, with a few too many underground trips.