Keeping up with culture may seem like a full-time job, and at the end of a week's proper work you could definitely be forgiven for just wanting to slump in front of whatever's on telly. However, feigning an interest in all things arty needn't take up too much time or effort. Armed with a few key bits of cultural knowledge, you'll have your workmates fooled into thinking you're a serious culture vulture in no time.
\#20 Almost all of the best films ever made are not in English
Sure, subtitles may seem like too much hassle, after all, if you look away from the screen you might end up not having a clue what's going on. However, it goes without saying that many of the best films to see are world films, most of which are not English-language. If you're trying to fake a little world film knowledge, director names to drop include Ozu, Fellini, Bergman and Kurosawa.
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\#19 There's more to stand-up comedy than Michael McIntyre
If you want to give the impression that you're really into stand-up comedy, you'd better know more than the comics you see on Saturday night telly. A quick trip around the top results on YouTube for Stewart Lee and Jerry Sadowitz, plus related videos, will get you up to speed with the best in UK stand-up. US counterparts include Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, Bill Hicks, and more recent contenders Chris Rock and Louis CK.
\#18 The US TV drama renaissance started over a decade ago
American telly has raised the bar in the years since the turn of the millennium. Early influencers included the West Wing and Six Feet Under. Must-know shows since then include The Wire, Deadwood and Breaking Bad. Mad Men is obligatory viewing if you want to pretend you care about quality TV, so make sure you can at least mention a few of the leading characters by name.
\#17 You can tell a lot about classical music from the instruments
There really is no easy way to fake an interest in classical music easily, it's just too complex. However, you can learn to tell a few basic facts about a piece of classical music just by listening to the instruments playing in it, including a rough period and even a guess at the composer if you read up just a little about the subject.
\#16 Kubrick's films span the genres
If you want to create the impression that you're a film lover, you'll make a good start if you can at least name most of the films made by Stanley Kubrick. These films span multiple genres, including horror, war, comedy and sci-fi. If nothing else, at least mention 2001 A Space Odyssey, one of the most spell-binding and mystifying films you'll see and one people tend to be awe-struck by.
\#15 The best Draculas were black and white
Dracula has been represented more times than most fictional characters in films. Any real film lover will rate a couple of the older adaptations highest, best of all being Nosferatu. With director FW Murnau, Max Schrek's vampire was based on Bram Stoker's monster but was renamed Count Orlok in the film.
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\#14 Modern and contemporary are not the same
When it comes to visual art, you'd be forgiven for thinking modern art and contemporary art were one and the same, but you'd be very wrong. One definition classes everything from the late 19th to mid 20th century as modern and everything after the Second World War as contemporary. In reality the classifications are more complex and subject to much debate, but keep those periods in mind and you won't go too far wrong.
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\#13 "Rosebud" isn't necessarily a gardening reference
In what is routinely referred to as one of the greatest films ever made, Citizen Kane, "Rosebud" is the last word of the central character and hook for one of the most influential plotlines in movie history. The great Orson Welles wrote, directed and starred in this film, which is a must on any successful fake cultural knowledge list.
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\#12 Who killed Laura Palmer
Being, or pretending to be, a David Lynch fan is a fast-track to cultural respectability. As well as the handful of equally baffling, unique, funny, scary and beautiful feature films, the director also made one of the strangest TV series of all time in Twin Peaks. If you don't know who killed Laura Palmer yet you better find out quick if you're going to convince anyone.
\#11 Godot isn't coming
If you're not a regular theatre-goer, or if your only annual drama outing is for the Christmas panto, you can hardly fake knowledge of Shakespeare's complete works. If you're looking for one respectable drama reference, you could do worse than Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. The play is a dark comedy, and if you can't be bothered reading or watching it, the clue is in the title.
\#10 We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars
If you're looking for a sure-fire route to cultural credibility, throw in an Oscar Wilde quote once in a while. You don't even have to bother reading or attending any of his plays either, since luckily he left us plenty of easy to remember quotations, many of which act as withering insults your workmates won't forget in a hurry.
\#9 Post-Modernism isn't about irony
The perception that, if something is done ironically that makes it post-modern, is a commonly held one, but there's more to post-modernism than that. Broadly speaking post-modernism defines art following modernism, with plenty of pop culture examples including Lady Gaga, lots of hip hop and dance music, not to mention Tarantino films.
\#8 Woody Allen one liners
Woody Allen's films are another great shortcut to cultural capital. Like Oscar Wilde, you don't even need to watch all of the films to bluff your way through the subject, since Allen has been responsible for a host of excellent one-liners, such as "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work, I want to achieve it by not dying."
\#7 Rory Bremner isn't the only Impressionist
Once ubiquitous in the form of prints, Impressionist paintings might have become a little passe in recent years, but knowing your way around the associated movements will make people see you as a real visual art expert. For example, Van Gogh is known as a post-impressionist, and his work paved the way for subsequent movements, particularly expressionism.
\#6 Tarantino's global influences
Everyone loves a Quentin Tarantino film, but if you want to move beyond enjoying the ride, you could do worse than learning a few of the director's influences, of which there are many. Tarantino wears his influences on his sleeve, with many of his films including direct references to films by directors including Martin Scorsese and Sergio Leone.
\#5 Powell and Pressburger isn't a fast food chain
If you want to fashion yourself as a bit of a film buff, gaining some knowledge about the films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger will get you off to a convincing start. From The Red Shoes, one of the most influential films of all time, to Black Narcissus and A Matter of Life and Death, these are all films regularly cited by other directors to this day.
\#4 What happened to Gregor Samsa
When it comes to highly regarded writers, they don't come much better than Franz Kafka. The most famous of Kafka's works is the short story, The Metamorphosis. With various translations from German, the story begins by explaining that one morning Gregor Samsa awoke to find he had been transformed into a giant insect. Throw in the phrase "magic realism" and you'll fool anyone.
\#3 Scorsese Peasy
Another reliable indicator of movie fandom is an interest in Martin Scorsese. As well as his own films which were under-appreciated in the film-making establishment for a long time, the director has made substantial contributions to film in general, particularly through his involvement in film restoration and preservation.
\#2 Daft Punk made lots of music before Get Lucky
If Summer 2013 was the first time Daft Punk entered your awareness, you'd better do some Homework fast (Homework was their first album, in 1997). The French electro-pop duo have produced four albums in total. With some of the catchiest, most upbeat tunes you'll hear, this is one respectable cultural interest you might actually enjoy getting into.
\#1 All that Jazz
If you want anyone to believe you know about music, you will have to pretend to know something about jazz. Since most if not all of popular music since the last century can be traced back to jazz, a little familiarity with the big names and numbers goes a long way. If all else fails, just mention Louis Armstrong.
- ABC: 'Mad Men' Creator on American TV's Renaissance
- The Guardian: Stanley Kubrick's Guide to the Art of Film-Making
- The Guardian: Twin Peaks: How Laura Palmer's Death Marked the Rebirth of TV Drama
- BBC News: why Are We Still Waiting For Godot?
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Postmodernism
- The Telegraph: Woody Allen's 30 Best One-Liners
- The Telegraph: Van Gogh and Expressionism
- The Guardian: A Matter of Powell and Pressburger
- New York Times: The Essence of Kafkaesque
- BBC Music: Louis Armstrong
- Empire: The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema
- Independent: The Top 10 Comedians Who Were Told They Took It Too Far
- Get Into Classical: 7 Steps To Get Started
- British Film Institute: Nosferatu
- Artistically Connected: Contemporary Art Vs. Modern Art - What’s the Difference?
- The Guardian: Citizen Kane
- The Guardian: Which Are Oscar Wilde's Wittiest Quotes?
- New York Times: Quentin's World
- Flavorwire: 40 Things You Didn't Know About Martin Scorsese
- Sabotage Times: Daft Punk - A Fanboy's Guide To Their Best Songs