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Who the Hell is Ruby Wax?

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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.

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  • Eric Olsen

    Sounds like Chrissie Hynde

  • Tim Hall

    I thing part of her success in Britain is the way she plays up to our stereotype of Americans as loud and brash. I can imagine that not going down well in Middle America.

  • Nigel Richardson

    I’ve never seen the point in Ruby Wax. We never needed her in England — I means, we were never short of English comedians who could be obnoxious about mainstream USA. She keeps trying different things, presenting quiz shows, chat shows, “let’s laugh at foreign TV” shows, “proper” acting, being a celebrity suckup, making fun of celebrities, but she’s generally just know for being loud and on TV, which seems to be enough to guarantee a lifetime of work if you know or marry the right people….

  • razor

    Actually – I think you may be missing the rather evident ironies of her humour. Her wickedly acerbic remarks have been directed as much at her adoptive country, Britain as the US. Having said that – her self deprecating comedy mocks no one more than herself and her heightened screen persona.

    Incredibly quick-witted she’s much beloved by celebrities (including her fellow Americans if their willingness to appear on her show is anything to go by) and by the many ordinary members of the public she incorporates in her formats.

    She’s just triumphantly finished a huge charity show in the UK – exposing her insecurities on national television and delightful personality for those less fortunate.

    I think she’s hilarious – and have been a huge fan for many a year. Perhaps if America could learn to laugh at itself a little more (I’m not a xenophobe before that accusation is levelled – I’ve spent much time in the States) – then they might not lose such talented performers to foreign soil. A humble suggestion to assist might be that you reserve judgement until you’ve actually seen her work rather than taking selected extraneous quotes out of context.

    Meanwhile – as a limey – I thank the US’ short-sightedness for a wonderful asset to English television.

    God bless Ruby Wax – long may she reign! And no – I’m not related to her…

  • sydney smith

    I considered that this might be her brand of humor before I posted, but on further reflection decided she wasn’t trying to be funny. There’s nothing in the rest of her article to suggest that she’s speaking tongue-in-cheek here.

    Besides, just calling someone “stupid” or a “moron” is neither humorous nor clever. Others have done a far better job of making fun of Middle America – “The History of White People in America,” “Fargo,” and “Waiting for Guffman” are just a few that come easily to mind. They even give those of us from the Midwest a good laugh. If Ruby’s article was supposed to be humorous, then it only confirms my initial impression. She isn’t funny.