When chatting with some Iranian friends yesterday, the subject of British humour came up. My friends told me that British humour, particularly language-based humour, has much in common with Persian humour, and that the Iranians really appreciate British jokes, unlike many other nationalities.

The things people laugh at seem to vary from country to country. In some places comedy tends to be very physical with lots of slapstick, in others it’s more about playing with language. So something that might be considered funny in more country, might be greeted with indifference in others.

What kind of things do you find funny?

This entry was posted in English, Language.

8 Responses to Humour

  1. Polly says:

    I always remember the Black Adder episode where a German officer describes British humor: “For us Germans the toilet is a mundane object, but for you, it is the basis of an entire culture!”
    I really like most of the English humor I’ve encountered. Although, Monty Python sometimes got a little bit TOO silly. I know I’m referencing very old shows and that whatever is out there now may be, well…something completely different.
    What I wonder about is whether the rest of the world makes as much use of sarcastic humor or sarcasm in general as English speakers. There’s some in the Bible – Book of Job and the writings of the apostle Paul, especially.

  2. I can definitely attest to sarcastic humor being common…and a good point about the humor in the Bible. Heck, even Jesus himself had a great sense of humor. I mean, take the parable where people were coming up with excuses to get out of a wedding feast. In his time, the responses he said those people made up were just as ridiculous as saying, “I have to dry my hair. For five hours.” And a plank in someone’s eye? In modern terms, a 2 x 4…just picture that!

    What I don’t understand, if anyone has some insight…I apparently don’t get Japanese humor, along with a lot of other cultural preferences and reactions. I was trying to watch the movie Zatoichi (the most recent version) and got myself completely confused. A lot of what I could tell was supposed to be the humor came off as childish in American eyes–the kinds of jokes that you generally try to get your children to quit making as they get older. And other Japanese humor I saw once–could somebody explain to me why in Japanese culture it’s OK to make an ad for everybody to see, in which a monkey lights its own fart on fire, and why that doesn’t remain confined to shows like Jackass?

    I’m not bashing–I seriously don’t get it and I could use some translation.

  3. TJ says:

    “Mind Your Language” is a big thing!

  4. Polly says:

    Minstrel Ayreon – I almost referred to the plank-in-the-eye parable, but edited for brevity. And, yeah, I agree, those were some pretty lame excuses the people in the parable gave. He must have meant that any activity would seem like a petty excuse compared to attending the feast.

  5. I think that was the meaning, too. But such a scholar of human nature would be well familiar with how much humor helps people to remember the message. 😉

  6. T-Moor says:

    As for Uzbeks or Russians they love the British humour, because there are many common things in our humour. Uzbeks and Russians always use word games, which we can see in British comedies. There are many examples of it. For instance, a well-known Alex Exler on his blog is posting download links to such British comedies as: “The IT Crowd” and “Monty Python” and everyone is downloading them. Me personally, I love watching the BBC Prime and comedies on Friday evening.

  7. “Tristram Shandy” is hands down the funniest novel ever written in any language.

  8. renato says:

    I love to watch on TV MR.Bean I think he is the tipical Britsh joker. It’s very funny. In Brazil We love to make jokes, and we do it with all situations, specialy about Portuguese people. We love them. Portugal was the country which found out Brazil, we respect them a lot, but is very good to make jokes about them. I think is the same felling when Americans make jokes about british.

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