When she was seventeen, Ruby Wax (really Wachs) moved to England. Now she’s a comedienne on the BBC, and she explains to the Guardian why she had to move to England to get a laugh:
I can’t work in the States. I get good reviews in New York, but I would get killed outside the cities. Once you leave New York and LA, you’re in those vowel states – you know, Iowa, Ohio – and your brain suddenly plummets leagues below sea level. I tour all round this country, and even in more out-of-the-way places, your audience is pretty sophisticated. In American vowel-land, they are moronic – and they make the ratings.
Maybe that’s just education. In this country children study Shakespeare, they know what alliteration is, so you start off with some basic appreciation of language. If your language consists of little more than guttural grunts and cherry pie, you can’t be blamed for not getting it.
Celebrities to them are like the Queen – why would you be irreverent to them? In America they have to have a voiceover that says: “She will now do something funny.” They have documentaries where they say: “This is a documentary.” The depressing thing is, it’s probably on its way here.
Hmmm. She doesn’t say who in New York gives her good reviews. Gene “I loved it!” Shalit? But, judging from her BBC Homepage, you hardly need a familiarity with Shakespeare to understand her humor. In fact, it would appear you hardly need a brain. Here’s her “funny” (scare quotes mine) quote of the day when I stopped by:
I think barking is a perfectly wonderful way to express yourself.
Not quite Wodehouse. Not quite Waugh. Certainly not Python. And what would Ruby think of my Ohio high school where Monty Python was the hands down favorite television comedy, the only reason the majority of my classmates ever tuned into PBS? Trust me, the vowel states know clever humor when they see it, and Ruby isn’t it.