What’s funny?

11 February 2011

It’s about time for a new post! First, let me share some Muppet spirit with you. Linus introduced me to this the other day. This is perfect stuff for me, as a child of the 70s I obviously love the music and the Muppets — do I need to say more? If you have 4 minutes to spare, they are well spent watching this….

SO that was good, wasn’t it??? I wish they would still produce the Muppet Show. I love its quirky sense of humour and this preference seems to have passed on to the next generation too: Linus and Lucy really enjoy a bit of Muppet fun via YouTube.
I also love British humour, but for French humour… what is it? What’s funny in French? The first thing that comes to my mind is Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis. Brillant film, I laughed my head off. And then a bit of Louis de Funès maybe? Unbearable to watch today, but fantastic during my childhood … what else is there? And is what I know about French humour typical? I don’t think so. Recently, while scanning a host of newspaper articles, Linus discovered that lots of headings featured word play. He knows enough French to a: understand them, and b: find them funny. I often need additional explanation… (would you have guessed?? 🙂 ) But I reckon this is a typically French kind of humour: Attempting at being sophisticated, witty and clever. An yes, I find this confirmed: On doing further research (i.e. googling…) I found that I don’t seem to be too far off here. In contrast to, for example Anglo-saxon humour,

The French value wit (intellectual, hostile, aggressive, sarcastic) as opposed to anglo-saxon Humour (emotional, affectionate, gentle, kindly, genial)
Therefore, the French sense of humour is more oriented toward others than themselves, less nonsensical than English humour, more cruel. It is never self-deprecating : it is combative, fueled by ridicule and mockery and it needs a target.
The French are great teases, which contribute (for naive foreigners) to their reputation of being rude
A frequent form of humor is to exagerate excessively a statement to illustrate its falsehood : if you are too literal, you just think it is silly

This is from a website that is supposed to help you understand French attitudes. And it’s helped me a great deal… I now understand WHY I don’t understand French humour. It is alive and kicking, it just eludes me. I guess the following quote is very true:
” I believe that nothing separates people more than their sense of humour” (Theodore Zeldin). I have a feeling that Germans tend to find anglo-saxon humour more funny — or is this just me? (Oops, another thing to google) Anyway, we’ll see, maybe I will get a hang of French humour one day. If not, I don’t mind. I’ll carry on watching the Muppets instead :).


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