This is an excerpt from the popular tv show Ellen. She and her team have selected some funny videos for commentary.
Ellen is quite easy to follow for all English speaking levels and always has something pleasant and fun to say. Remember, it’s never important to understand every word being said (but that is a completely different lesson!).
Now, for the topic at hand, this video. Comedy is always a risk factor in publicity, as it is extremely cultural. What is funny in some cultures, is not in others. I personally think that this gap is being reduced with time, and with the internet and a higher influence of multi-cultural influences, our humour is changing, or at least we can understand the motives behind jokes.
Comments/Food for thought, don’t forget that you can send homework to the following email address if you do not have an assigned teacher with us (email@example.com ):
- Look for the punchline for every commercial and write about it, explain the joke.
- You can take this exercise a step further, add in some personal thoughts as to any cultural differences, exaggerations, general observations.
- Write questions that you would ask students if you were the teacher.
- There are links to dictionaries to help you out, in the transcript below.
Ellen: Well, we always love finding funny commercials to share with you all. Here are some of our recent favourites. This is a commercial for its, it’s… a commercial in Vancouver Canada for Science World. Very funny.
- Ah, perfect timing, you remember Anette1.
- Of course.
- And you must be Jeffries2.
- And, this is Linda from3…
- Deb, you old dog, how’s that golf game?4
- Slogan: Shaking hands spreads more germs than kissing.
- So, it doesn’t really seem like a Tuesday, does it?
Ellen: Naaaa. That would be weird. Ahh, this is a Fedex commercial.
- Fedex Ground will get this5 to Cleveland on Wednesday.
- Fedex, aren’t they a little pricey?
- Ned, you’re always wrong.
- How am I always wrong?
- Ok, let’s review. Steely Dan is not one person. We get fringe benefits, not French benefits. James Dean is an actor, Jimmy Dean makes sausage. You know what Ned? It’s not the leaning tower of Pizza.
- So, Fedex isn’t too expensive?
- Shakes head.
- We don’t get French benefits?
- Sogan: Fedex Ground Reliability for less than you think.6
Ellen: Naa, they don’t get French benefits. And ahh, this is Big Pond Broad Band. Very funny.
- First day on holiday, how good is this? Hotel right on the beach7, …
- “Hi dad”…
- Can’t believe we got it so cheap.
- Look out. It’s all right.
- Research Holidays Properly.
Ellen: Ahh, it’s a shame. And this is a commercial for Conforma, a French furniture company.
- Slogan: To each his own style, to each his own kitchen.
Vocab/ ways of speaking to pay attention to:
- “you remember Anette.” Useful when re-introducing people, just to ensure that they remember each other’s name, or just to be polite.
- “and you must be Jeffries” A useful way of being polite, and letting somebody know that you know who they are. This often implies that somebody has spoken positively about this person in the past.
- “This is Linda from…” You can say this when you want to say where a person works, not only their country or city of origin.
- “How’s that golf game? “ A very common mistake I tend to see is for the Spanish expression “Qué tal” … o “cómo es…” I think it is worth stopping to think and compare your thoughts with a simple English sentence “How are you?”:
- For example… how would you say “¿Cómo es ella?” y cómo dirías “”Qué tal está ella?”.
- Pues es igual cuando nos referimos a otras cosas que no son personas, por ejemplo, un partido de golf. Piensa en la diferencia de las frases:
- “How is your golf game?” y “What is a golf game like”.
- How is your golf game? “Fantastic, improving, horrible…”
- What is a golf game like? Entertaining, boring, long, tiring, challenging, fun, etc.”
- “…will get this to”… the use of get…I dare you to look up the dictionary form (follow the link)… it looks complicated, right? Now just think of these to sentences:
- I am married. Vs. I got married on June 15th.
- I am here. I got here by bus.
- If you translate, it’s a bit complicated (remember the definitions!), however, if you think of change… well then, it’s a bit easier.
- We use get quite often in English to replace the use of reflexive verbs (me enfado, me cambio, me mojo…), which we really don’t use.
- We use get to refer to any change which we would like to imply. Get is the difference from “being” in a state or place, to the way or change to get there.
- To get married – casarse
- To get somewhere, llegar a un sitio
- to get angry – enfadarse etc.
- In this commercial, Fedex will get this to Cleveland . is the same as saying “deliver”, but it’s expressing the difference from being in Cleveland to the change to Cleveland. “Get it?” J (this is a common expression to say, do you understand?)
- “… for less than you think…” an expression commonly used to express a good price or deal.
- “On the beach….” Cuando pensamos en algo que podría ser “linear” (una calle, una playa, la via del tren…) usamos “on” como preposición.
OK… enough for one day. Try and start using these expressions in your every day, any questions? WRITE ME (firstname.lastname@example.org )! Include them in the comments section, we’d be happy to help!