Week 7: Television in translation: Kath and Kim

To produce something that everyone will enjoy is impossible due to different personal tastes and also national culture e.g. different senses of humour, dark, witty, dry, slapstick.

Susan Purdie’s Comedy Theory 1states that comedy depends on the breaking of the rules of language and behaviour and our laughter signals that we have recognised the break. In order to know what the rules are, we must have some form of background knowledge as what the subject matter is. While all cultures may laugh at the same kind of rules being broken, rules may be different in different contexts.

Humour, jokes, satirical comments and references may not always translate across cultures and so the effect on different geographical audiences will vary. This is evident in the classic Australian TV show, Kath and Kim. Due to it being a smashing hit in Aus. with 4 series’ and 2 Logie Awards, in 2008 they aired a US version. This however was a flop in both the US and Australia. The US version did not resonate with audiences as well at the Australian version because the stereotypical Australian group ‘bogans’ are common in everyday Australian life and the mockery and dramatization of them is relatable for Aussies and the US audiences, the foreignness in this group is humorous. There is no equivalent US stereotypical group and so audiences could not relate it to home soil and online comments called the show ‘cringe worthy’ (Turnbull 2008).



Turnbull, S (2008) ‘It’s Like They Threw a Panther in the Air and Caught It in Embroidery’: Television Comedy in Translation’ Metro Magazine Issue 159 Dec


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