British Comedy: Origin of "No" as "Neeeeeewwwwww ... "
July 24, 2018 5:31 PM   Subscribe

In "Hot Fuzz", Martin Freeman's cameo/character says "no" in a particular way here. I get the feeling it's a reference to a particular British comedy bit (Python?). Anyone know the source or what I'm talking about?
posted by WCityMike to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
For extra credit, from same movie, same question: Bill Bailey's "nobody tells me nuttin'".
posted by WCityMike at 5:46 PM on July 24, 2018

It's kind of David Frost-ey.

But I don't know if it's so much a specific reference as it is comedic class-switching. The slightly-pinched nasal voice is stereotypically upper-class; Freeman's character switching to it reinforces that he's pulling rank, while his over-doing it reinforces that he's a jackass.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:33 PM on July 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

Data point, second-generation Anglo-American: this is a thing I do when I think I'm being funny. I have seen Hot Fuzz once, but I'm fairly sure I didn't get it from there. I also think this is just a thing, not an explicit reference but I'd love to be proven wrong.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:15 PM on July 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

The slightly-pinched nasal voice is stereotypically upper-class

I think this is definitely part of it, and I'm fairly certain Graham Chapman and John Cleese both used a similar intonation several times when playing exaggeratedly upper class characters in Python.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 8:39 PM on July 24, 2018 [9 favorites]

Also cf. Jon Stewart's Queen Elizabeth "helllyooooooo".
posted by Jon Mitchell at 8:40 PM on July 24, 2018

I'm British and I don't think this is a reference to anything or specifically a class thing, pretty sure it's just a silly voice. Maybe it's a posh silly voice, but it's not because he's pulling rank. The "nobody tells me nothing" thing is funny because this is when we first twig that maybe this isn't the same guy we saw manning the desk the previous night. I don't think it's a reference either, it would be a perfectly normal thing for a surly desk sergeant to say.
posted by the long dark teatime of the soul at 4:58 AM on July 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

It's very David Brent.
posted by Dwardles at 5:18 AM on July 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

People do this in the UK all the time. I'm now wondering if it owes something to Doctor Evil.
posted by Dwardles at 5:31 AM on July 25, 2018

Also English and it's just something I've always done and that a lot of people I know have done.
posted by emotionalmotionsickness at 9:06 AM on July 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you watch the bit just before the clip, it's the third time in a row that Freeman says "no" in response to three rapid-fire questions, so it might just be a funny way of emphasizing that Pegg is never going to get a "yes" in this scenario.
posted by Clustercuss at 9:56 AM on July 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

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