I have no clear recollection of how it happened, but by the time when I had recently passed the age of ten I was already a fan of British humor. It's funny, too, because I was never a fan of the English in general. The comedy, though, really appealed to me for some reason, a reason that only accelerated through my early teen years. (In my late teens, I discovered British cinema. I still think that the humor and the cinema are the two best things about the British, or the English, whatever. There was some great music there for a while, but it came on suddenly and tailed off quickly.)
The Goon Show; Peter Sellers; Spike Milligan; "Carry on" movies; it was all so, so . . . what? Was it witty? Was it subtle? Was it only different? I don't know, but it appealed to me for some reason. This was in New York, where you could find British humor on the radio. I started to read Punch Magazine as well. Can you imagine my delight when Monty Python came on TV rather later on?
Peter Cook and Dudley Moore were a great act, just great. This clip is Stephen Fry offering a heartfelt, highhanded and hysterically funny tribute to Peter Cook. Great stuff. (Fry and Laurie were pretty great themselves, and are, together or individually.)
I am still generally ambiguous about the English. Brits I tolerate better, mostly because they tolerate me better. I'm Irish-American, and that's a double negative to a real, solid, old-school Englishman. I'm sure that they'd have little more patience for my actual great-grandfather, who was born in what is now central London. I'm sure that he didn't have the correct accent, and he was Roman Catholic besides. Brits as a category include some Irishmen, and all Scots, the Welsh, and lots of "coffee colored heathens" too by now (an English term). All kinds of colonials. I'm a colonial myself. Brits seem to think that I'm an okay sort of fellow.
Stephen Fry makes a lot of awfully good points here, and pays a deserved tribute to a talented man. Thanks for that.