Humor throughout the world

In discussing the possibility that Swedes have humor, I cane across the following:

Describe your experience in sharing humor across national boundaries.

I have a Korean fiancee, and I’ve come to the conclusion that humor is one of the hardest things to hold up in a translation. There are just so many cultural references. Trying to explain why something is funny just ruins it.

Certainly, we are not without shared laughs. She is a very bright and smiling person and we find much in common to laugh about. But we’ll rent a movie, and I’ll be laughing at something that she doesn’t get. I’ll stop the movie and say, “Well, you see, 20 years ago there was this TV commercial that was ripe for satire and…, oh forget it.”

So, as far as movies are concerned, I try to pick ones in which the humor is based on human nature and/or obvious visual situations. Ruthless People for instance. She absolutely loved it.

Puns don’t work well.

Some jokes translate well and some don’t, depending on the country; one needs to be careful. I once listened to a French colleague tell a string of Belgian jokes – they were similar to (but not as funny as)what Americans would tell as “Polish” jokes (or, in my childhood, we called “little moron” jokes).

The Dutch tell Belgian jokes too - Belgium is the only country I know of that gets ridiculed by TWO neighbouring countries.

But that’s just because Great Britain is an island :slight_smile:

The OP was very funny though, especially if you’re a European other than German…


“You know how complex women are”

  • Neil Peart, Rush (1993)

I was visiting a friend in another city and we were at his favorite bar. At some point in the evening, a guy shouts out “13!” and everybody in the place starts laughing. Then Another fellow yells “47!” and the whole place just howls with laughter. My friend says to me, “You see, all the regulars have heard all the jokes we’ve ever told in here, so we numbered them. Now, we just call out the number of the joke and everybody remembers it. Saves time and effort.”
“Cool,” I say. Getting in the spirit of things, I shout out “29!” Nobody laughs.
Disappointed, I say “What? Was that one not a funny joke?”
My friend pats me on the back and says “Look, not everybody knows how to tell a joke.”

Typical Swedish treachery…

Hey, how come no one on this board has “come out of the closet” about being Swedish? There’s always lots of Swedes on the net.

Actually, TennHippie, I have heard that joke, but the punchline in the version I heard goes:

…then one of the patrons paused for effect, then burst out with “183!”, and everybody fell into hysterical fits of laughter, with a few people actually falling off their chairs. “Wow,” I said, “what was so funny about that one?” My friend replied, “I hadn’t heard that one before!”

Modest? You bet I’m modest! I am the queen of modesty!

Monty Python used to do a lot of lampooning of the Irish and Scots which was largely lost on American audiences.

“My hovercraft is full of eels.”

I’m sure there are lots of countries made fun of by their neighbors.

German story:
A German family was on vacation and had to take a ferry boat for several hours. This boat had a buffet lunch/dinner. The family paid, piled up food on their plates,ate, then went for more, filling plastic bags with bread, coldcuts etc. The hostess comes over to them, glass in hand. You forgot the milk, she says, pouring it in the bag.

Monty Python is an interesting example, because a lot of cultural references that a funny to Britons come off as surrealistically funny to Americans. During those Gilliam animations, Americans are laughing because the talking head is such a funny-looking guy with a funny voice. The British are laughing because poor old Edward Heath is getting skewered again.

I’ve often wondered if this means Python gets sort of dated in Britain, while remaining timeless in the States

Nothing I write about any person or group should be applied to a larger group.

  • Boris Badenov

I remember reading a book about ethnic humor around the world, and it brought up an interesting point. The Scots are made fun of for being miserly, penny-pinching bastards everywhere, and I do mean everywhere. You expect it in places like England, right next door, or America, with a reasonably large Scottish population, but this happens even in places like Hungary, where you’d think they’d find a local version to pick on. The same thing, more or less, happens with the Irish. Given my strong Celtic background, this was something I found very interesting.

Just a random thought.

Modest? You bet I’m modest! I am the queen of modesty!