Laughter: We all share a love of humor, even if a

sense of what's funny differs by country and region.



Le Monde, France

World Tour of Humor in Seventy Countries


"North Americans (United States and Canada) prefer gags based on superiority 'complexes,' either because a person appears stupid or is unwittingly made to look like it."


By Macha Séry


Translated By Alexandra Griffiths


August 9, 2009


France - Le Monde - Original Article (French)

What's funny?: We don't all agree - although we all like to laugh about something.


YOUTUBE VIDEO: The benefits of 'Laughter Yoga' with John Cleese, Sept. 26, 2006, 00:03:47.RealVideo

An excellent supplement, a world tour of humor, was published on August 1 by the Courrier International. It was an excellent opportunity to point out again that from India to Argentina, laughter is something that is universally shared. However, one can never be certain that something considered humorous here [in France] will be found to be just as funny elsewhere.


Are there national humors? What are the fundamental elements of comedy beyond colloquialisms and references peculiar to a particular country? Michael Pagnol offered an answer to this recurrent question as well as to the mystery of how jokes are born and enter circulation in his book Notes on Laughter. He covered all of the natural bodily functions, locomotion, respiration, digestion and the disturbances of the body. He then moved on to discuss social and cultural differences, which is a breeding ground for comedy common to many countries.


All countries, or almost all, have made a specialty of mocking their leaders and their neighbors, territories or populations. Ireland toward the United Kingdom, Spain against Portugal, Sweden vs. Finland, Romania and Bulgaria, the list goes on … And let's not forget the petty infighting that occurs within the European community between Flems and Walloons, for example, or the sparring matches between ethnic groups in West Africa - provided that they fit within the meaning inherent in these relationships.


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"The uninitiated should beware: there is a strict code regarding relationships and jokes," warns Ernest Diasso in Thursday's edition of Le Journal, a Burkina Faso newspaper. "You may only tease a person who tradition has specified as being your 'rakiré' [the object of your jokes]. If a Peul were to unexpectedly insult a Samo [both West African tribes], the insult could be taken at face value."



On January 27 at the very Parisian Café de Flore, a café-geography event was held on the topic: "Is There a Geography of Humor?" It was attended by academics from the Association for the Development of Research into Comedy, Laughter and Humor (CORHUM). It seems that the English are prone to understatement; the Americans toward exaggeration, and in Sweden they use Lutheran irony based on Jante Law - a code of conduct and politeness taken to extremes.



Granted, Voltaire introduced France to Shakespeare and the word "humor," but to better emphasize classic French genius and propriety, he lamented the "inappropriateness of jokes made by the gravedigger in the middle of the tragedy of Hamlet." This is a criticism that seems old-fashioned today. That's because with globalization and the circulation of films, books and videos, the specifics of how the humor of others is appreciated have tended to become blurred.


In September 2001, psychologist Richard Wiseman and the British Association for the Advancement of Science undertook an Internet study. The goal: to establish whether men and women share the same sense of humor, if it varies with age, and … to establish what is the funniest joke on earth.


According to a survey carried out on 100,000 people from 70 countries, it was this: "Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He's not breathing and his eyes are glassy. The other guy unsheathes his mobile phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator says "Calm down. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There's silence then a shot rings out. Back on the phone, the man says. "OK, now what?"  


Whoever you are and wherever you live, you like to laugh.  


The best customers for jokes, whatever their nature, are the Germans, followed by the French, Danish and British. The Irish, British, Australians and New-Zealanders have a particular preference for jokes based on wordplay, while North Americans (United States and Canada) prefer gags based on superiority "complexes," either because a person appears stupid or is unwittingly made to look like it. The French, the Danish and the Belgians tend more to appreciate witticisms bordering on the absurd. As a general rule, Europeans have a taste for brief stories related to subjects that "often make us feel anxious, such as death, illness and marriage."


Why do we so love to laugh? To ease anxiety, release personal tension, take a bit of revenge on those more powerful than ourselves, free ourselves from inhibition and subscribe to irrational logic that helps us escape from everyday life. We laugh out of rebellion or as a consolation.


"Like love, its only rival as an inner source of pleasure for mankind, laughter bridges the realms of the mental and the physical," says Jim Holt in an article for the Guardian picked up by Courrier International. Holt is the author of Stop Me if You've Heard This: A History and Philosophy of Jokes. One might also draw a parallel with sex. According to the Marquis de Sade, the objective in sexual congress is to elicit involuntary noisemaking from your partner - which is precisely the object of humor, even if the nature of the noisemaking is somewhat different."


Ah! According to the British study, the best time to tell a funny story is on the 15th of the month at 6:30pm. It will seem irresistibly funny at that time, whereas it will flop at 1:30 in the morning and may provoke an echo of another involuntary noise: snoring!

































[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US August 15, 5:19pm]


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