Wednesday, June 08, 2011

German Humour; It's No Laughing Matter

But I hardly thought it required a poll to come to that conclusion.

The same poll however puts us Brits at just fourth in the funny stakes, one behind America in fact. Which, as any self respecting Brit will tell you, is nothing short of a pure bloody insult. Taking your average Yankee Doodle, if humour isn't possessed of all the subtlety of a police baton at a First Amendment rally, the response is invariably, yer wot?

A typical example at the bottom of the page.

While they might be world leaders in many fields, the Germans have never really led the way in comedy.

Now an international poll appears to reinforce the humourless national stereotype after concluding that Germany is the least funny country in the world.

More than 30,000 people in 15 countries were asked to rank the nations with the worst sense of humour and Germany came out on top.

But before Britons become too smug, the survey did not rank the UK a great deal higher, placing us fourth behind Russia and Turkey.

Countries including Canada, Holland and Belgium all performed better than the UK when it came to demonstrating wit.

The survey, which was carried out for the social networking site found that most people agreed with the national stereotype that Germans were weak at comedy.

Many of those responding to the survey said they saw Germans as being more focused on rationality and efficiency rather than humour.

In May 2007 the German magazine Spiegel commented that the British had an image of the typical German as a “mercilessly efficient but humourless engineer”.

But defenders of German comedy insist the stereotype is unfair and the structure of the language means many jokes from the English language do not translate easily.

Lloyd Price, the spokesman for, which carried out the survey said: “Germans are brilliant at so many things, including making cars and beating us at football. Unfortunately telling jokes isn’t always one of them.

“If only there was a comedy World Cup, we might stand a chance against them.”

Commenting on Britain’s poor showing in the survey Mr Price said the international perception of the UK was a country whose people were uptight and reserved.

He said: “If we’re no good at football and no good at comedy either, it’s a bit of a pie in the face for us.”

The top ten least witty countries according to the survey were:

1 Germany

2 Russia

3 Turkey

4 Britain

5 America

6 France

7 Poland

8 Belgium

9 Holland

10 Canada
Original source of poll,

Jay Fullmer, 38, yesterday became the first American to get to grips with the concept of irony. "It was weird," Fullmer said. "I was in London and, like, talking to this guy and it was raining and he pulled a face and said, "Great weather, eh?" and I thought "Wait a minute, no way is it great weather." Fullmer then realised that the other man’s "mistake" was in fact deliberate. Fullmer, who is 39 next month and married with two children, aged 8 and 3, plans to use irony himself in future. "I’m, like, using it all the time," he said. "Last weekend I was grilling steaks and I burned them to shit and I said "Hey, great weather!".
Originally part of this post.


Anonymous said...

" behind America in fact. Which, as any self respecting Brit will tell you, is nothing short of a pure bloody insult." :)

How about this (from a Dutch citizen who lived in the UK for about four years).

"Humour is the cornerstone of the British society. It is used in numerous ways: to establish a positive atmosphere, to create a sense of togetherness, to bridge differences, to introduce risky ideas, to criticise, to show appreciation or contempt of a person. British people joke about everything including the queen, politicians, religion, themselves and you! You'd better get used to that. Humour is often combined with understatement. Depending on the tone "Not bad" can actually mean "very good" and "not bad at all" might be the highest praise you ever get from a Brit."

Not bad at all. M

Anonymous said...

Well Himself, a bit of insight into another culture never does any harm.

British say: I would suggest...
British mean: Do it or be prepared to justify yourself
Dutch understand: Think about the idea but do what you like

British say: Very interesting..
British mean: I don't believe you...
Dutch understand: They are impressed

British say: I'm sure it's my fault
British mean: It's your fault!
Dutch understand: It was their fault

British say: That's an original point of view
British mean: You're an idiot
Dutch understand: They like my ideas!

There is hope however:
"... British and Dutch people are made for each other when it comes to business dealings."

Very interesting.
Yours sincerely,

Anonymous said...

I love cultural differences.

click German (Dutch humour I suppose)

Himself said...

Although the British are generally seen as being reserved, you will find that in the North of England (where I used to live), people are usually quite friendly.

Mais oui.

Himself said...

Ah yes, semantics, we are known to employ them on the odd occasion.

Having read the content of both articles, one might be inclined to say, somebody has us sussed.

Himself said...

Top 10 reasons for being German: LOL

You're not behind the door yourself when it comes to taking the piss.

But for some truly wicked (funny) English humour, you must visit:

Cast your eyes to the 'Ks' and to the 'Ms' you might just see a name or two that are a tad familiar.

It's all in the best possible taste!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Himself said...

Nice one.

I have something similar, but I think it's in my bits folder on the other PC, so it will have to stay there I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

A bit of nonsense for you.

Ever since the seventeenth century.

"I understand that you don't all have relatives in the Netherlands, or speak the language. So it's my pleasure to tell you why you should come to the Netherlands as well. And why you would be more than welcome."

"I am very pleased that we'll be talking tonight about doing business in the Netherlands. Some of you already know from experience what the Netherlands has to offer international enterprises. Let me assure you that we highly appreciate your vital contribution to the Dutch economy."

"Because doing business in the Netherlands means doing business in a prime, strategic location."

"We like to look beyond our borders in search of new opportunities for our trading partners. What's more, 85% of the Dutch speak English, and many speak a third or even fourth language. That will make life easy for you."

Thank you. M

Himself said...

Similarly, although not nonsense by any means. Watching a program the other night that focussed on the Dutch age of enlightenment, prompted me to read up on Huygens.

Quite a bloke I must say, intellectual advancement owing an awful lot to the man, I was most impressed.

On other things. I have just a chapter to go in order to finish Jose Saramago's Cain, which I have to say, the library service went out and bought new. (for me)

A pleasant enough read and cleverly written, but it didn't set me on fire.

Amy Goodman's book and Saramago's, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, I picked up from the library yesterday.

I don't know how I will fair with The Gospel. I appreciate that it is translated from the Portuguese, but I guess paragraphs don't translate too well, there isn't one in the book, not one.

I will let you know if I manage to get through the or not. Perhaps I have become too accustomed to writing in small chunks to facilitate easier reading on a monitor, but even so, it would be nice if there were a paragraph or two. Especially if I have had a spliff or four.

I shall be away to Mothers shortly, so little input from me today.


Anonymous said...

Three guesses where he's from.

"He has such a cute accent" and "he is like a normal person"

Himself said...

Google translate not playing.

Anonymous said...

British really do have unique sense of humour. I love it.

xx native Dutch person

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Goedenavond H

We can’t beat the English of course, but here you go. Perhaps you have to be Dutch to fully appreciate

Dr. Phil Parody

All roles played by Carlo Boszhard and Irene Moors

Goedele Liekens - Belgian sexologist

Albert Verlinde - presenter RTL Boulevard

Sylvie van der Vaart - model and TV presenter

Roy Donders – hairdresser and stylist for women from working-class quarters and caravan camps.

Inez Weski - lawyer

I tried to translate from 1:05. M

Dr. Phil: Now the next guest is just like me not a real doctor.

Goedele: Allé, voilà, good evening. If you have warts on your penis and that makes you sad or, for example, you are ashamed of your labia or suddenly there have been appearing small mushrooms on your anus and you have a problem with that or actually you are not able to sit, ask me.

Dr. Phil: Albert Verlinde do you, do you recognise some of these problems?

Albert: I like to start saying that the texts have improved enormously, much more substance. I prefer to focus on other people’s misery anyway. But I’m doing fine.

Goedele: People lying on TV is extremely common. In general, it can be recognised by laughing it away. (Albert laughs) Voilà, more contrived is almost impossible, isn’t it. (Sylvie laughs) Oh là là, voilà, it is possible. Here, I certainly hear a laugh of someone who needs ...

Roy: ... a sausage bacon sandwich, and snuggling up on the couch in a house coat.

Goedele: Oh yes, or a tasty, long, big curried sausage, or a minced-meat hot dog which you pull out of a hole, or a bere, bere, berehap ( hmm, or a giant bag of frites and then you squirt a splash of mayonnaise all over it, mmm..... Ah, what was it all about?

Dr. Phil: About those freaks in the TV canteen. Now ...

Inez: Pardon, Inez Weski here, lawyer, worth seeing, what I tell you, fairground attraction in many talkshows. I defend the interests of Albert, Joop, Janine, in short all those puppet dolls in the TV canteen, all of them are ridiculed in your pathetic program, and that cannot be, that must not be allowed. By the way, I don’t defend Sylvie van der Vaart. When I only hear that chubby woman, I do blackout. For me, that woman is too preoccupied with her Selfie. Oh, I just want to take a picture.

Dr. Phil: I don’t want to put any words into your mouth, but don’t you think Sylvie is a bitch? (orange sign shows: INSTIGATOR)

Inez: As a lawyer I have taken an oath of secrecy.

Dr. Phil: But you can push the button.

We’ll be right back after the break.

Anonymous said...

Cultural differences, and literal translations. LOL

Anonymous said...

What would Jim Gamble say or Steel for that matter.

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