“But you’re still English” I said.
“Yes, but I think of myself as American now, I’m applying for a green card. I want to be an American”
He said, “Even though I’m from England, I’ve totally bought into America, everything about it, the culture, the life, the dream. And any English people that come here and criticise it but like to make money here should just go back to miserable boring, depressing England, where everyone loves a failure”.
I said, “In England people are just more realistic, even if that means being a bit more pessimistic. But you don’t stop being English just because you’re in a different country”. As if on cue, he and a room full of people all turned on me, accusing me of being anti-American.
One said, “So what are you doing in this country if you don’t like it?” I said, “I love it here, that’s why I’m working here”.
They said, “If you love this country then you should embrace everything about it”.
“Even the large portions, healthcare and the Kardashians?” I asked.
People in America can be very patriotic, even if they’re not American.
There is no such thing as The ‘English Dream’ because people in England don’t dream, they do, they do a lot. The minute I suggest this, I am then accused of thinking I’m better than the Americans – apparently another typically English trait along with being rude and sarcastic. In a comedy club in LA last week, I heard an American comic say, “Who are these Brits that keep coming to our country and telling us what to do? Simon Cowell, Gordon Ramsay – why don’t you just stay in your own small country and fix that before trying to fix us!” This piece of commentary received a round of applause.
I never feel more English or more superior than when I am in America. When I’m in America I talk like Mary Poppins is my mum and Simon Cowell is my dad. I really English it up, which is confusing for some Americans as they think I’m Mexican.
The night of the presidential debate between Obama and Romney, I was doing a show in San Francisco. I managed to watch the debate before my show.
I’m just grateful I was in San Francisco as one man said to me, “San Fran is not like the rest of America – we’re more like England. We can laugh at ourselves, you can come here and make jokes about everything that’s wrong with our country, we’ll agree with you and laugh with you, but I wouldn’t advise it anywhere else, you might get chased out with a gun”.
It’s true; if you’re not an American then you have to be careful where you exercise your thoughts, concerns and jokes about America. It’s like when you were a teenager and you hated your parents, but when someone else called your mum a witch you’d be really upset.
The young man I met who wanted to apply for his green card is doing well in America, achieving more success than he ever did in England so, of course, he loves being here and is embracing it, because the American dream is working – even for the Englishman. My Indian friends are American first and Indian second they are more attached to the American culture even though some of them were actually born in India. They say “You have to embrace the country you’re in, if you want to be a success in it, don’t trash it”.
When I went on stage and ridiculed celebrity culture, some people in the audience were really offended. It says a lot about what people value these days, when you ridicule homophobia, misogyny and racism and no one responds, but when you ridicule Paris Hilton someone gets really irate.
I’m now embracing all things LA. Colonic irrigation, yoga and wearing sunglasses indoors. Hopefully once I’ve done these things for a while maybe I’ll qualify to be American enough to joke about them.
The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.
Shazia Mirza is an award winning stand-up comedian and writer. She has performed all over the world. A columnist for The Guardian UK, she was named Columnist of the Year at the prestigious PPA Awards. Find out more from her website. Follow her on Twitter @shaziamirza1.
The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.