Are You Being Served confused me last night...

Last night I caught a few seconds of Are You Being Served? whilst channel surfing, before Mrs. Rastahomie heard the British accents and made me change it.

Anyway, Mr. Humphries was waiting for Mr. Lucas to do something. He was getting quite impatient, and he blurted out:

“Some time during the reign of the present monarch, Mr. Lucas!” [emphasis mine]

Now, I understand the joke. What I don’t understand is why he didn’t say “Some time during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Mr. Lucas!”

Unless I’m ridiculously mistaken, Queen Elizabeth was Queen when Are You Being Served? was made, and has been since 1962(?).

So, is it considered rude over there to invoke the name of the Queen in jest?

  1. Maybe the writers wanted to make sure the show could stay in syndication through, oh, 2075 without the jokes falling flat.

  2. Speaking as a man of little comedic experience, the phrase “Some time during the reign of the present monarch, Mr. Lucas!” seems to have more comic potential than “Some time during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the Second, Mr. Lucas!”

  3. I dunno.

The principle of “ambiguity of time and/or place” and being related to the actual affairs and situations of real life only in abstract terms make these comedies a whole lot safer.
Am i being clear enough or do i sound like a jerk trying to look smart?

Speaking as an amateur comedian of some small success, I can assure you that “Some time during the reign of the present monarch, Mr. Lucas!” is much funnier than the alternative.

Likewise, if it had been an American show, “Sometime during the current Administration, Mr. Lucas!” is much funnier than “Sometime during the Bush administration, Mr. Lucas!”

I’m not sure why. Maybe because the former sounds more bureaucratic, and bureaucracy is always funny where names and specificity are not.

It definitely wasn’t done that way to make the shows timeless. If the producers had had that in mind the characters wouldn’t be dressed as they were.

Nope, you can say pretty much what you like about Betty without fear of the axe.

IMHO, whilst not agreeing with Mrs. R that hearing a British accent is sufficient reason to switch channels, I’m sure you could find something funnier from over here than Are You Being Served?.
Much to my amazement, though, there are some Americans who like it – as evinced by this thread. If you’re free, perhaps you’d like to contribute?

True, Five. Also, monarchies don’t roll over on a regular basis: Betsy’s been on the throne since I think 1952, whereas we don’t keep a prez more than eight years. So if the monarchy changed hands before Mr. Lucas completed his task, that could be a long time.