The Gyppo says:
"I also think it has more to do with where you live than gender. People are just funnier in Britain or in Australia than they are in Sri Lanka. I don't know - just another way of looking at it I guess."
and it made me think, one of my hobbies anyway. These sense of humour things, are they that different according to nationality and is it fair to say that some nationalities are funnier than others?
Despite all my abundant words about identity, all my whining when someone tells me I'm not Sri Lankan because I use the indicators when I turn, that sort of thing, I think I've got a very British sense of humour. I've put a lot of time into trying to figure out what a British sense of humour means, what characterises one and what the recipe is.
Wikipedia has this entry, but it's probably written by an American academic who's just done a PhD on the subject, something that is ironic, something that is a key constituent of British humour. We Brits laugh at ourselves, we parody ourselves and take the piss out of each other in ways that other nations don't, though other nations do take the piss out of the British.
I hesitate to
The Brit sense of h is very brain based. That's about the best explanation I can come up with, that its foundations lie in jumping ahead with one's thoughts and then leading the audience along the path that took you there, or took one there. Once the audience sees the connection they hopefully find the joke funny.
In contrast I think the Sri Lankan sense of humour is more about everyone jumping together, the whole crowd being involved in one big leap to funniness, if that makes sense. It seems to be more of a group thing. Lankans have much more belly laughter than Brits, I think, but should add that I'm talking of my observations about Lankan humour in English. I don't understand the Sinhala language so can't make any kind of commentary on Sinhala humour, or the Tamil variety.
Often I feel as if the Lankan flavoured humour struggles to mix with the Brit stuff. There are many occasions when I've watched a crowd of Lankans crack up over something and I just haven't found it funny, despite understanding why they're laughing. There are many more when I've cracked a witticism to a Lankan audience and they've looked at me as if I was at a Michael Jackson fan club meeting and had decided to narrate some of the jokes that we've all heard lately.
Only a couple of weeks ago I was out for dinner with a group of Sri Lankans and I came out with a particularly funny line about a Brazilian. It was a line I'll use again, just with the right crowd. These people, who'd been laughing and joking for pretty much all the time leading up to my corker, went silent and looked at me in disbelief.
I, being the considerate type, mistook the looks of disbelief for looks of "Pardon me but would you say that again as we didn't hear you?" so I did the only thing a chap could do and repeated it. It made things twice as bad. They were young people as well, can you imagine that? There was tumbleweed everywhere and that Clint Eastwood whistling thing going on loudly in my head.
The big commonality between Brit and Lankan humour is the way that they feature in the make up of each society. They may be fundamentally different but it's fair to say that both nations love to laugh. Rarely have I had a good evening, either in London or Lanka, that didn't involve copious amounts of laughter and a little bit of wee leaking out accidentally. Java's like that though and his bag can leak sometimes.
And what about the Americans? Well their's is a different one too. Like most Brits I find American humour to be hilarious at times and totally predictable and boring at others. Friends was/is funny. The American version of The Office was just painful, I know not why. American stand ups always seem too obvious for me. Sometimes they're very funny, they just lack the sophistication that other nations have. Some people might even go so far as saying that about the Americans in general. I wouldn't.
Here in Britland we have a stereotyped view of the German sense of humour. It's possibly unfair, though I can't think of many German funnies or programmes. I do know that the Germans take their humour very seriously indeed. I've also noticed that they do it all in German, how mad is that?
Maybe sense of h is impossible for us to even consider if it's conducted in a language we don't comprehend. As I said before that's certainly the case for me in relation to Sinhala or Tamil but I don't even think about the Danish sense of h or the infamous Spanish one. No one ever expects the Spanish sense of humour though.
So it's fair to say that we can only evaluate a nation's sense of humour if we speak the language. Therefore, when we're translating a "foreign" language back into our own mother tongue, surely we're bound to lose a huge amount of the intrinsic wit anyway?
Or what do you think?
Are some nationalities just naturally funnier than others?