It is unclear who first claimed that England and America were "two countries separated by a common language" - even that great fountain of eternal knowledge the internet cannot decide between Irish playwrights Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw - but it is true that, while the United States and mini-me wannabe Britain may share many similarities, the nations are divided when it comes to humour.
Of course, there have been numerous comedies that have tickled funny bones on both sides of the Atlantic, from Mr Bean and The Office to Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Simpsons, but television history shows that the American market often derives its humour from the generic sitcom whereas Britain tends to favour self-deprecating satire. Yes, I know that is a sweeping generalisation and there are many exceptions - Britain's godawful Benny Hill genre, for example - but, when executed well, both approaches have their merits.
This week sees the premiere of light-entertainment shows from both sides of the Pond, sitting at opposite ends of the comedy spectrum. First up, as is their tendency, are the Yanks, with new sitcom Young & Hungry, which begins tomorrow night on Star World ... or at least it was meant to. It appears that, at the last minute, even Star World realised what a big stinking crap bomb it was about to drop on us - a poor attempt at a modern, hip comedy with tepid sexual tension and laughter of the canned variety - and has pulled the plug on it … for now, at least.
Young & Hungry has been replaced by a double episode premiere of the brand new season, the sixth, of Cougar Town (6.55pm). Now it's not often that I'm this overjoyed at the thought of watching such a formulaic sitcom, especially one that has long lost its zest and inventiveness, but with Courteney Cox's face becoming progressively frozen with each season, it'll at least be fun to see whether the former Friends star can move her lips without her knees falling off.
New British offering Ambassadors (BBC Entertainment, Thursday at 10.45pm) springs from the minds of double act David Mitchell and Robert Webb (pictured; aka Peep Show's Mark and Jeremy). The pair play hapless British diplomats sent to the fictional Central Asian republic of Tazbekistan to temper international relations and smooth the way for some lucrative but shady arms deals. Echoing their Peep Show counterparts, Mitchell is the uptight and almost incompetent ambassador, prone to rabid rants and extreme stress, while Webb portrays his rather more chilled deputy.
While not as biting as the wonderful Peep Show, Ambassadors reeks of cleverness and it's great to see Mitchell move away from the panel shows, however humorous his acerbic barbs may be, and for both comics to demonstrate their acting chops. The show achieves a neat balancing act, the farce never detracting from the drama as the storyline ticks along nicely, never overwhelming the comedy. The writing is intelligent, the jokes are subtle and the tone will elicit wry smiles rather than belly laughs.
Whether your tastes lie with Cox's strangely named but wine-soaked and fun sitcom or Mitchell and Webb's bumbling diplomatic idiocy, at least you won't have to suffer being assaulted by the Young & Hungry.