The first thing to note is that the comedy cultures in the UK & USA evolved in different ways, so let’s look at them separately and then what we can learn from both and combine them into the best for Channel X Global.
First off, the American system.
Show business has been a multi-billion dollar business in America (Hollywood) since the 1920s.
Of course part of Hollywoods success comes from selling the American Dream of liberty, democracy, pursuit of happiness and the right to shoot children in school.
Dark jokes aside, the roots of why American showbusiness is so well-established is actually quite fascinating (albeit somewhat prosaic).
I discovered from reading Jerry Lewis’s Autobiography – Jerry Lewis:In Person – in which he revealed that the reason there are so many Jews in Hollywood is because part of the Jewish culture is that when you are growing up – even as a small child from the age of 3 – you’re expected to entertain adults in the family with impromptu live performances.
Like putting on an improvised play, reciting some poetry, anything that shows off and develops the child’s social skills. It’s a huge part of the Jewish immigrant culture that came from Europe and moved to America.
Now you can understand why America got a massive head start when it comes to entertaining people because a sizeable part of the population have gone through the difficult task of failing and learning before they even reach puberty.
Astonishing, isn’t it?
America in the 1920’s and beyond was rapidly getting wealthy and a burgeoning middle class want to spend money on entertainment.
So this home-made Jewish entertainment hobby rapidly became a booming industry
Money pours in from the audience eager to see movies, which creates more (well-paid) jobs which in turn attracts talented smart people and then you have virtuous circle where you can hire better people, attracts better talent, and the industry gets better and attracts an even bigger audience
Even today, this is true. The money in showbiz in the US, attracts very smart creative people to build careers there.
In the comedy world alone, I personally know multiple people who’ve given up jobs as doctors, lawyers, teachers*
These professionals leave their jobs in the USA to develop careers in writing sitcoms or perhaps becoming joke writers for late night shows such as Letterman and Jay Leno and multiple other forms of broadcast comedy.
You can actually earn more money writing comedy in the US then you can being a middle ranking lawyer or doctor. Top Tier comedy writers in the USA demand salaries of tens of thousands of dollars PER WEEK.
Hence, it attracts creative types people who think differently, who don’t quite fit into the normal way of life.
* Or the same safe middle-class jobs that parents in Emerging Ecoomies want their kids to apply for. Which shows promise at least that. if we can offer the same opportunity for personal enrichment to kids in Emerging Markets in the comedy writing world, then perhaps a similar multi-billion dollar industry can be created?
READ OUR NEXT POST >> PART 3 OF THE FASCINATING EVOLUTION – THE EVOLUTION OF COMEDY IN THE UNITED KINGDOM
∙ Authored by Quilliam Potter
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