I Don’t See the Humour in That

Wotta gag!A link to Gates of Vienna turned up on a BBC message board, of all places. The topic? Ethnic humor. Someone had discovered our Palestinian jokes from last week, and, of course, missed the point:

it doesnt matter that the Irish are not actually stupid…that they maybe sharper than the English (the traditonal tellers of the Irish joke)in many instances. what matters is that the English have historically had all the power in that relationship and have been able to control the propaganda, the stereotype, and tell jokes at the expense of the other…i donno whether Israelis tell Palestinian jokes but give them another few hundred years of subjugation (as the Irish have experienced)then i’m sure the Palestinians will be making jokes against themselves also.

by the way i did find some Palestinian jokes all told by Americans…all with the punchline “BOOM” you should see this:


i sometimes wonder what it would take to make good Christian American kids in to suicide bombers…not very much i think…

i dont know much about Newfoundland or ‘Newfie’ jokes, infact i dont know much about Canadian humor i gather that Newfoudlanders are a bit disenfranchised so i geuss its natural they are the butt of jokes…

Oh, yeah! Those kids down at the youth group at our church can hardly wait to strap on the ol’ bomb-belt and walk into the local gay bar. Definitely.

There are so many things that one could say about this wonderful batch of cant that I simply don’t know where to start.

I guess the first thing to do is to tell a joke at the expense of a disenfranchised group:

Q: Why do Americans do it doggy-style?
A: So they can watch TV.

Do you ever get the feeling that people like these BBC folks really don’t get the point of humor? I mean, they see other people laughing at things, they hear the jokes, and then they knit their brows, trying to figure out why all these people around them are making strange loud whooping noises and wiping their eyes.

If they’re intelligent, they learn to simulate a sense of humor and laugh at the right places, using the habitual joke-telling cues to determine where those places are. But they don’t think anything is really funny.

Oh, sure, I laughed when my little brother fell down the stairs and split his head open, but I was a kid then! I’ve outgrown childish things.

And now they know that humor is really just about oppressing people, a way for the powerful to express their dominance at the expense of the powerless. Now they get the joke! At last!

The hermeneutic protocols governing this schema of humor are quite complex:

I don’t know if jokes about another culture are always the result of having power. New Zealanders tell lots of jokes about Australians, but would feel they were No 2 in that relationship as far as power goes. Maori tell jokes about themselves, but Pakeha are a bit sensitive about this sort of thing and would worry they were being racist. (And a lot of them would feel Maori had more power than them anyway.) Now that I think about it, it seems to be opposite (re power) here. I could tell jokes about Aucklanders but I’m not sure they would feel so comfortable with jokes about rural people. (Sort of along the lines of hitting you when you’re down.) Though most of our successful homegrown comedy programmes feature rural hicks to some degree or other. Quite often getting the better of city people, though.

Did that make it clearer?

There’s lots more in the same thread. Here’s another little taste, from a poster called Sean:

thanks again Caro…i wasnt seriously requesting a hunchback joke (there are many to be found online)…as a hunchback myself i’ve never met any other hunchbacks who tell jokes about themselves but until the 1980s such was on the daily repetetoir England humor along, ofcourse, with all the other usual recipients of racist jokes…i take the point about the power relationship, and it is useful to have the weapon of humor against the culturally dominant. i say English humor because so much of it seemed to be at the expense of the Irish, Welsh, and Scots which are the posits for ‘rural hicks’ that it couldnt rightly be called British.

Sean and Caro, I’ll let you in on a little secret: humor often targets people who are one-down because people who are one-down are usually suffering.

At the risk of violating my own moral tenets, I’ll explain the two primary components of humor: (1) surprise, and (2) suffering (preferably somebody else’s).

Hence the old British joke from my youth: So I says to the man with no legs at the bus stop, “How yer gettin’ on, then?”

And to round off this appallingly politically-incorrect diatribe, a joke of my own construction:

A club-footed Eritrean lesbian dwarf walks into a bar and orders a schnapps.

The bartender hands her the drink and says, “We don’t get many club-footed Eritrean lesbian dwarves in here.”

The club-footed Eritrean lesbian dwarf pulls out a .357 Magnum, drills the bartender right between the eyes, and says, “That’ll teach you to wield your oppressive patriarchal racist homophobic ableism at the expense of the powerless and disenfranchised!”


10 thoughts on “I Don’t See the Humour in That

  1. Ha ha is right. At this rate we’ll be wandering away, speechless, afraid to make jokes, tell stories, or make remarks of any kind as everything said will be considered insensitive, politically incorrect, insensitive, and offensive to somebody. Here’s a big, fat bleeeeh to that!

  2. Well, being Irish and oppressed by you horrible WASPS I am forced to make jokes at my own expense…

    My very favorite joke:

    Q Why did God give the Irish a love for whiskey?

    A.To keep them from taking over the world.

    (Here’s to Jameson’ triple blend Irish whiskey: it’s worth the price of not having to run the world)

    I want some more Mohammed jokes…and some Jesus jokes…and some God-the-Father jokes. And if any one knows a few about the Trinity, I’m all ears. Hard to make them about the Holy Spirit, though. Especially since he changed his last name from “Ghost” to “Spirit” — not nearly as easy to poke fun at.

  3. Hey! Did you hear about the lepor hockey game? Yeah, there was a face off first thing. HA HA

    Hey – why didn’t the lepor take his girlfriend back to the pizza joint on their 2cd date? That’s easy, because when they went the first time, she kept reaching for his face. HA HA

    Hey – how many lepors does it take to make a pizza? Two – one to make the pizza and one to pick out the fingers that fall off into the pizza. HA HA

    Why do lepors never engage in rough sex? ( this one should be obvious, you idiots!)

    I think these probably fit the criteria for offensive, and I heard them first in a college dorm many years ago, the one about the pizza told by an honor student

  4. Gosh, I always thought the point was to make fun of ourselves! Something certain peoples are unable to do.

    How to be Politically Correct when talking about Military Men
    *He does not have a beer gut…
    He has a personal war reserve stock.
    *He is not quiet…
    He is a SAMS grad.
    *He is not stupid…
    He is a field grade.
    *He does not get lost all the time…
    He gets temporarily misoriented.
    *He is not balding…
    He has a REALLY squared away high and tight.
    *He does not get falling-down drunk…
    He practices his IMTs in the club.
    *He does not have a rich daddy…
    He has the Army as a hobby.
    *He does not have a hot body…
    He is a PT stud.
    *He is not unsophisticated…
    He is a Ranger.
    *He does not eat like a pig…
    He eats like a Ranger student at Pizza Hut.
    *He is not a male chauvinist pig…
    He must be combat arms.
    *He is not afraid of commitment…
    He loves TDY. (this one is my favorite)

  5. An irish friend of mine told me the best irish joke I’ve ever heard. It was, incidentally, while he and a scottish friend were visiting me and my swedish in manchester, so we were a walking joke in and of ourselves…


    An englishman, an irishman and a scotsman walk in to tesco. The irishman says, “where’s the bar?”

    had me laughing for, oh, seconds. The best part is, you can replace “tesco”, biggest supermarket chain in the UK, with just about anything and it’s still just as funny.

  6. Have you ever thought of this – jokes are funny because they help remove fear, if only for a moment.

    Little kids laugh at peek-a-boo because for one small moment they were afraid that you (or they) might actually have disappeared.

    The more Radical Islam riots over “cartoons”, the more Mohammed jokes are poppling up. And the funnier they seem.

    You can apply this “fear” theory to any type of joke. Except perhaps 12 year old boy’s enjoyment of the
    classic “fart” jokes. That remains a mystery.

  7. An Englishman, a Scotsman and an Irishman sit down at a pub; all three order a Guiness. All three discover a fly in theirs.

    The Englishman is horrified and demands a new draft. The Scotsman shudders, discards the fly, closes his eyes and drinks the Guiness–then orders a chaser. The Irisman grabs the fly by the wings, looks him in the eyes and says, “Alright, you–spit it the Hell out, NOW…!!!”

    Don’t even get me started on the Schlemiel and the Schlimazel….

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