Monday, January 11, 2010

Humor Around the World

My extensive travels to foreign lands (Little Italy, Chinatown, and that string of Salvadorian stores out on Route 50) have taught me a lot about human nature--specifically, how different cultures have evolved humor. What is funny to a Mongolian will not be funny to an Argentine, and will probably move a Ugandan to such uproarious guffaws that he will lose all control over his body parts. It's one reason why comedy films have to be edited extensively before being distributed for theaters overseas. Were you aware that "Ghostbusters" was sold in India as a tragic drama? (They also added a dance number that really had no place being in the movie).

In case you ever have to bring merriment and mirth to people of other cultures (and it may be required, if you ever run over someone's goat on a windy mountain road in a far off land), here's a handy guide to what will be considered funny:

1) Spanish Cultures: throw in a large breasted woman wearing a miniskirt and slapping an obese grown man dressed in a sailor suit. It works great on the laugh tracks.

2) Japanese Culture: tentacle porn.

3) Russian Culture: someone getting seriously hurt will always make them laugh. Particularly if that person did nothing to deserve it and didn't expect it.

4) British Culture: whatever it is, make it dry and subtle. So subtle you're not even really sure it's a joke. Just emphasize one syllable at the end of what you're saying and leave it at that.

5) German Culture: the joke needs to be coldly rational and rhythmic, with a clear beginning and end. It's not a bad idea to add "that was the joke" after telling it. Try to keep a level monotone so you don't confuse listeners.

6) Canadian Culture: they don't have humor up there anymore since they exported all of it to the United States.

7) Chinese Culture: all jokes are actually more like cryptic riddles that make you think.

8) Arab Culture: just stay away from any Borscht Belt humor.

9) Scandanavian Culture: there actually is no humor in Scandanavia. They traded it in for Legos and Volvos and IKEA.

10) American Culture: you can always make an American laugh by following these simple rules: (a) the fatter the guy, the funnier he is; (b) nothing is ever so funny it can't be improved by showing someone getting kicked in the nuts; and (c) unnecessary screaming.

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