I love the Austin Powers movies. I must have seen the second one about two hundred times. They just crack me the fuck up, no two ways about it. I'm not a friend of juvenile humour, I never have been; it's kept me from appreciating Parker & Stone's works, even if the social critique that I could find valid has an underlying twinge of Americana. But Austin Powerses have the occasional high brow jab, like Dr. Evil's monologue at the family counseling thing, that I find just brilliant.
A long while ago I read somewhere that this fangirlism of mine is shared by none other than George W. Bush, and that Dr. Evil also happens to be his favourite character in the movies (and that he does impressions of him). I can't say that I don't find that disturbing on multiple levels if there was any truth to it, but what bothers me the most is that I could share a love of something with someone I doubt I have anything in common with. I just refuse to believe that he and I could enjoy the movies in quite the same way. In fact, I know that most people don't watch them in the same manner I do, as witnessed in the movie theatre where I gave solitary laughs to the sounds of others rustling their candy bags, and I'd stare at the screen in mute horror when the rest of the audience were in gales of laughter. Which, really, isn't that uncommon a phenomenon when I go to the cinema.
Now, many of my English friends I've heard claiming on many occasions that Americans don't get Monty Python. That they laugh at the funny voices. I don't think that's entirely fair, although there may be some things that don't cross cultural borders. I still don't understand why Brits find Spellotape funny, I never have. I enjoy Monty Python, but it's not ha-ha funny to me. It's surreal and absurd and absolutely brilliant, but I'm more likely to gape at the genius and actually outright cry, than I am to laugh. It has the shade of something tragic. And John Cleese, whom I love and find funny-as-fuck in some of his other works, just frightens me in Monty Python. He's scary-crazy, like sometimes with the twist of his head he's reaching into some well of madness.
But the reason I prefer (in the main-stream) British humour is that I do not believe humour ought to be PG-13. It's irreverent, it's anarchist, it's supposed to show us the absurdity of our sacred institutions and symbols, and that just doesn't happen if you try to confine it into an age-bracket. PG-13 has destroyed people like Eddie Murphy and Jim Carrey. I don't mean that you need to curse like a sailor for something to be funny, but that you can't hold anything within society as holy, or you'll fail. It's about turning black into white so that we might see black and white and the greys in between, and how ridiculous we are viewing things in this fashion.
And it's because of this rebellious nature of comedy that I seriously doubt George W. Bush and I get our ha-has from the same gags.