The moment the ice is truly broken between two newly acquainted Britons is when one teases the other about something.I guess that means my friends and I are all British. Not that there is anything wrong with being British, but the gross generalizations of the humorlessness of Americans and the backlash to Ricky Gervais are both wildly over-stated. Indeed, Americans enjoyed it, as you can tell by the increase in ratings. If Americans were afraid of a few pointed comments, then they would avert their eyes and change the channel.
Yes, taking the stuffing out of some celebrities may cause a bit of a reaction, but wasn't that the desired effect? And are Hollywood celebrities typical of Americans in their sense of humor? Perhaps not. Or perhaps folks are much more likely to take it well when they are not on stage.
I suggest that the Economist folks watch a Roast or two to see that the Americans can be just as funnily cruel as any Brit. See below for a bit of evidence: