Lampshading for Dummies: Is Private Really British?

In Hard Boiled Eggy, Skipper remarks how, in addition to the other penguins’ abilities, Eggy (the adorable duckling that the penguins egg-sat and subsequently hatched) had adopted a phony British accent, just like Private.  Private insisted that his accent wasn’t phony and he really was British.  What do the facts say?

Christopher Knights was the original voice of Private in the Madagascar films.  For the TV show, James Patrick Stuart (not to be confused with Patrick Stewart) provides Private’s voice.  The original Private was indeed British, as Christopher Knights is.  However, James Patrick Stewart is a native Californian.  His accent(s – he also does Australian for Joey the kangaroo) may be able to fool anyone (he’s easily as good at a British accent as Hugh Laurie is at an American) but apparently not Skipper who rightly points out that Private’s accent is indeed phony.

Even though we can’t blame the voice actor for being American, we can blame the writers for not realizing that if Private is really supposed to be British, he would likely use explicit British phrases and language constructs in place of the American usages the rest of the team employs.  An excellent example is during the mission briefing for Go Fish, when Private refers to vacation slides as “holiday snaps.”  That is indeed the correct English term and passes the Brit test.

An Elephant Never forgets has Private wondering why anyone would ask a truck about his backstory.  Except that in England, nobody asks “trucks” anything.  They may inquire of a “lorry,” but never a “truck.”  Likewise when newly-stupid Private mistakes Kowalski’s fusion incinerator for a “cotton candy machine” in Sting Operation, he fails to use the more correct British “candyfloss machine.”  (Okay, I’ll admit that “cotton candy” is a readily accepted name for the spun sugar confection in England but “candyfloss” enjoys much more widespread usage among British English speakers.)

While this is admittedly nitpicky, I file it under the category heading of writer inconsistency.  Like any good TV show, PoM has a whole mess of writers and each episode has its own writing style under the influence of whichever writers did Private’s dialog(ue).

So I think that Skipper’s reference to Private’s provably fake British accent, however well done, officially counts as hanging a lampshade (though a subtle one at best).

Completely off topic:  NEVER offer iced tea to anyone from England.  They not only abhor the idea of cold tea, but too often mistake it for cola, making it doubly nasty when they actually take a mouthful, expecting a sweet soda.

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