So proclaims George Mikes' timeless exploration of this curious phenomenon. Whether it's understatement, self-deprecation or plain cruelty - the three elements he identifies as essential to our sense of humour - being witty is a way of life here.
Though George Mikes (pronounced 'me-kesh') started life as a Hungarian, he became a humorist as English as they come. Born in 1912, he moved to London in 1938 to become the correspondent for a Hungarian newspaper, and then he never left. A keen observer of the behaviour and misbehaviour of foreigners and natives in Britain, he is frequently cited by later authors including Kate Fox and Jeremy Paxman. He died in London in 1987.
Wise and witty -- William Cook on 'How to Be an Alien' * Spectator * Brilliantly comical -- Pico Iyer on 'How to Be an Alien' * New York Times * Very funny * The Economist * He is witty, observant, tolerant and sane * The Observer * To write a book is hard; to write a funny book is harder; to write a funny book both wise and funny is the prerogative of Mr. Mikes * The Times *