'I'm not being funny but…'

Posted on November 16, 2008 by yankeebean


Ahhh, the dreaded phrase… don’t you almost flinch when you hear it?  And it’s nerve-wracking because there’s no way to tell what’s coming.  They could be about to tell you that you have something in your teeth, or that they think you should ‘go back where you came from’.

I’ve actually consciously developed a ‘neutral face’ that I attempt to maintain when I hear this.  Here’s some samples of what I’ve heard so far (although with the thoughts that ran through my mind afterwards).

I’m not being funny, but, :

‘Portion sizes are HUGE in America… is that why everyone is so fat?’ – No, it’s all MY fault… I encourage my people to be sloth-like and eat fried food…

‘When I see Americans walking around in York, they really annoy me’ – Yeah well, now when I see YOU in York, you’ll really annoy me, too…

‘There’s no good cheese in America’ – I have two words for you, bucko… MONTEREY JACK

‘Americans act like they run the world.’ – Excuse me, but, for now at least, WE DO…

‘How can you eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches??  BLEUGH!!’ – I think this is because they think ‘jelly’ is ‘jello’… classic!

‘I can’t believe you can buy guns at Walmart’ – Yup, gallon of milk, loaf of bread, 9mm automatic firearm, Captain Crunch.  Just your average trip to the grocery store!

‘American’s can’t dress – OK OK… you kinda got me there…

I’m sure more will come to me at some point… cos someone’s gonna say it right to my face…

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What Others Are Saying

  1. Mike February 27, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    Give me american women every day xx

  2. Steve Shawcross July 30, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    I certainly take you point, it’s not a phrase I would use– a lame disclaimer to say it I think!

    Playing Devil’s Adovocate: I think it’s a case of ‘manners’, however misguided that may appear [chuckle]! I think they say it, because such peope are trying to show they are not trying to offend; merely just stating an observation, rather than just being plain mean [srhugs]

    I suppose the problem with declaring things are “offensive”, is that it’s subjective, in that we find different things offensive: In other words statements per se are not offensive, it’s whether we choose to take offence at them.

    My personal ethos is “why take offence?”: I’m fond of Eleanor Roosevelt’s saying: “Nobody makes you feel inferior without your consent”. That said, you have the right to take offence if you wish to.

    If a person’s ‘offending’ is untrue or unfair I set them straight. If it’s bluster or meaness, either ignore it or laugh it off. If you do the latter and ironically ‘agree’ with them, then it takes the wind out the person’s sails, and makes you look charming– very British way of doing things you may say!

    I appreciate it’s a big difference between US and UK culture. If people “take the p_ss” in the UK it’s seen as sign of affection, whereas to American ears it’s insolent. Which is fair enough, one is right or wrong over the other.

    My advice would be to grit your teeth and just see the funny side. Unless it’s blantly false or malicious– then feel free to put the person in his/hers place [thumbs up]

  3. peacefulyorkshire July 30, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Hi Steve,
    I see your point, but ironically to my American ears when I hear that someone starts their phrase “I am not being funny, but.. .”I just know that its going to be rude and offensive thus negating the need for the disclaimer!” SO why bother?

  4. Steve Shawcross July 29, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    @ pacificyorkshirebird

    When people say “funny” they mean it in sense of obtuse rather than humorous (ironics really, since such people can be laughed at!)

    It’s that person’s way of saying they are not intending to be rude or offensive with what (s)he is about to say, lest it is misconstrued that way.

    So in a ham-fisted way, that person is being considerate!

  5. American Girl in the UK November 28, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Hey! You gals HAVE to try Lancashire cheese! It’s loverly.
    By the way, the D.E.B. and I just spent an amazing hol (did you like that?) in Cumbria. All’s I can say is — my North’s better than yours! ;)
    Hee, hee! Just kidding!!!!
    Happy Holidays!!!!

  6. notfromaroundhere November 28, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Not just regular MJ but colby jack and pepper jack cheeses! I eat a pile of each every time I’m back in the states, there is just nothing here to compare.

  7. yankeebean November 22, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    Hell yeah!!! You know it’s true… you KNOW it!! I’m gonna keep that in the ‘vault’ for when I need it. :)

  8. prench November 22, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    how about aged white cheddar from new england? i’m not being funny but… it totally kicks stilton’s ass.

  9. yankeebean November 17, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    I hear that!! TRY and get a hot wax in this country. What’s a girl gotta do???

  10. An American Girl in the UK November 17, 2008 at 10:17 am

    If you liked that, you’ll this:


    And, you might enjoy my “response”:


    just here to keep you gals laughin’! :)

  11. An American Girl in the UK November 16, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    Hey gals:

    I came across this, and thought you might enjoy it. An article from The Guardian called: “Why American women are sexier than British girls – by a man who knows”…interesting…
    Check it out at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2006/jan/15/features.woman10

    Cheers, dears! :)

  12. peacefulyorkshire November 16, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    The latest one I heard from a colleague was

    I am not being funny but…. why do Americans have to celebrate Thanksgiving? Its like they just want to eat!!

    I could have really compromised some Health and Safety rules at work over that one!! AHHH!!

  13. pacificyorkshirebird November 16, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Couldn’t agree more – that phrase is highly irritating. It is so unneccessary because whatever follows that phrase usually isn’t funny. So, no need to clarify, thanks.

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