I have to agree with you about American comedy. The first time I watched Saturday Night Live, I remember watching it and wondering where the joke was... yes, you had schoolgirls shouting 'superstar' and guys trying to pick up people in bars, but there was no payoff. The joke was obvious from the very beginning... there was no framework violation because the strangeness was there from the beginning.

I believe that the English wit comes from two different sources. The first is that the English, historically, have championed the underdog. Knowing that in a race, there's only one uppity bastard who's going to win, somehow the English will identify more with the poor underappreciated saps who came in fifth of seventh. Therefore, in humour, jokes will tend more towards self-deprecation and will be more understated, because making a big deal out of how much of a loser you are would make you the #1 loser, and that would be equally as bad. (Yes, I know this is fucked up).

The second source is that the English are bastards. Nobody denies this, even the English themselves. And if there's any way to really fuck someone up (or make someone laugh), it's by saying something with a straight face which will force the other person to wonder if you're really serious or not. Some people think that the English are serious all the time: they're not. They're laughing at you, and you don't even know it. English people find this really funny.

In summary, the English are the only people who would invent Cricket, and then go on to invent Mornington Crescent.