Let me say right off the bat that I love England in a notional sense -- even with its disgusting food, stiff-necked Protestantism, and socialized health-care system, I still imagine it's a wonderful place to learn about history and soak up culture. It is not, however, a very funny country any longer. Yes, the island that gave us the genius of Benny Hill and Monty Python is now dull as hell in the laughs department. The lastest proof involves this episode from a red-carpet event promoting the London premiere of the new Tom Cruise film "War of the Worlds." Seems some jokesters from "Channel 4" spritzed Cruise with a water pistol playfully hidden in a microphone while he was granting an interview to one of the television station's reporters. That's it? That's all ya got??
To his credit, Cruise refrained from beating this person to death, if only for the truly lame nature of the gag. Instead the Hollywood star calmly lectured the man and returned to signing autographs and smiling for the cameras. Cruise actually handled himself with grace and dignity; the Brits were left standing there like frightened schoolchildren. I understand that comedy's taken a hit lately and maybe the "prank" was part of the larger trend involving dumb, self-conscious humor intended to poke fun at the cult of celebrity worship surrounding movies generally and Hollywood specifically and blah blah blah blah.... Guys, listen to me: Next time you best bring hand grenades. If you think "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" and "Team Sanchez" are gonna save the English wit you're just fooling yourselves. You really wanna get Tom Cruise going, as well as make us Yanks laugh out loud? Try calling him a fag. Strike that -- this is England: call him a cigarette.