For Students: Laughing and joking in English
What makes you laugh? Do you laugh when people fall over or is it funnier when people fall off their chair. Do you laugh if someone farts or does an impression of someone you know? We all have a sense of humour – except Germans (a tongue-in-cheek joke) – and we all find different things funny.
Do you think we shouldn't joke about a subject? Do you get offended if you hear a racist joke, or a sexist one? Nowadays these types of jokes are taboo in countries like England and the US because of political correctness and how most people get offended by almost anything someone says. Move away from these countries to Eastern Europe and these jokes are still alive and kicking.
There are many different types of jokes from toilet humour jokes to situational stories to parodies. I like observational jokes. The jokes and stories that tell us about the everyday things we do, but we don't really know we are doing, until we are reminded in a joke. I like jokes that are witty and make you think. I think a play on words and puns can be hilarious. I'm not a fan of dick-and-fart jokes.
British humour is something that is looked at with curiosity. Seen as weird and baffling from the outside, but our jokes and humour is something I love about my country. I read somewhere that if two British people meet for the first time, a joke will be made within the first 90 seconds. We can laugh at ourselves. We can take the piss out of others – and often do – we use irony probably more than any other nationality and we are good at telling jokes. There are many popular stand ups from the UK and events in cities where we have open-mic nights where you can dare to stand up in front of everyone and tell a few jokes or stories and feel the euphoria of laughter after you tell the punchline. Or it could go the other way and you you might get heckled off. Banter is a big part of British culture and winding people up is normal and happens among friends and family.
I wonder, can jokes from another country or culture really be understood? Regardless of how good your language skills are, will you ever truly understand? I have met people who have watched the same film, once in English and then again dubbed in their own language. The verdict was that the film was much funnier in the native language of the watcher. Could that be because it is adapted and subtle changes are made for that countries audience? Or simply because the cultural understanding is lost?
I'm going to end with two clips from a comedian called Michael Mcintyre. I was pissing myself watching both of these and I hope you enjoy them too.
2. This is an observation joke about British people on holiday which I found I couldn't keep a straight face when watching. This is a cultural thing, so it would be interesting to know if you find it funny.
Did you laugh? What kind of laugh? Find out more.....
www.luke.lv - Native English speaker and teacher in Lviv
Fall over / off / down - someone falls over when they are walking, people fall off things, for example chairs, and people fall down things, like holes
Fart - to pass gas and (usually) make a sound through the anus
Do an impression of - to mimic someone either by voice, movement, look, or all
Tongue-in-cheek - something that is not to be taken seriously
To joke - to say something to criticise or make fun of something
Offended / Offensive - to feel bad and surprised someone says something
Racist - jokes about different people and races
Sexist - jokes about men and women
Political correctness - subjects that can not be joked about in society
Alive and kicking - something that is very active
Toilet humour - jokes about farts, body parts, and childish subjects
Situational - jokes about situations that people have been in
Parody - a comical copy of something that has happened.
Observational - jokes about things we see in our everyday life
Witty - the ability to think quickly and comically
Play on words - words used in a way that is funny
Puns - a play on words
Hilarious - very funny
Dick-and-fart jokes - jokes often used in toilet humour
Weird - strange
Baffling - very confusing
Laugh out yourself - to make jokes about you
Take the piss out of - to joke about other people, subjects, and things
Irony - to mean or say the opposite what you mean
Tell a joke - we always TELL jokes or MAKE a joke about something
Stand up - a comedian
Open-mic night - an event when the public are free to come to the stage and perform
Euphoria - an amazing feeling of happiness
Punchline - the last part of the joke that is said before people laugh
Heckle - when someone in the crowd shouts insults when you are performing
Banter - jokes and insults among friends
To wind someone up - to say things to someone to try and annoy them without malice
Dubbed - when the language of the actors is changed
Adapted - when something is changed to suit something or someone else
Subtle changes - small changes
Can't keep a straight face - to laugh a lot
To piss yourself laughing - to laugh a lot