Piers Morgan on dumbing down (or eliminating?) sarcasm for Americans

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‘America’s Got Talent’ judge Piers Morgan premieres his new CNN talk show, ‘Piers Morgan Tonight’ on Monday, which means America will finally get to hear about Oprah’s mac-and-cheese-gorging tailspin, Howard Stern’s reaction to David Arquette’s breakdown, and eventually, maybe Lily Allen’s post-miscarriage grief (but only if he shells out 1 million pounds sterling to charity first).

The former tabloid editor is already a veteran interviewer in the United Kingdom -- he’s made Elton John, Simon Cowell, and Gordon Brown cry on Britain’s ‘Life Stories’ -- but during a recent interview, he admitted that being a talk show host in the United States is a totally different game. ‘You have to dumb down -- well, not dumb down -- you have to eliminate the irony and sarcasm if you want to get to a mainstream audience in America,’ he said.

This is something he learned on ‘America’s Got Talent,’ when a joke of his bombed: After he quipped that a group of elderly contestants must be the David Hasslehoff Fan Club, the women responded that they’d never met Hasslehoff. ‘A British audience would have howled with laughter,’ he insists. ‘They would have known that I was really saying, ‘David, you’re ancient, so they might be your fan club.’ But that’s the kind of joke you learn to eliminate when you’re in America. You have a more literal humor.’

For more on Morgan, including his famous rivalry with Madonna, click here.


-- Melissa Maerz