August 24, 2004

Is humor cultural?

Perhaps a better way to pose this question is: Does humor have to be culturally relevant to be funny?

When I lived in HK and the Philippines, one thing that struck me was that when I made an innocent joke I often laughed alone. Similarly, when they laughed, it was usually a self-conscious laugh over something silly they had done. I never really found those situations funny, but I smiled nonetheless.

That never stopped me from using my humorous wit for my personal amusement whenever I could. Actually I still do this. So, wishing to conduct yet another social experiment, I submit for your consideration 2 excerpts from email items I received this morning. Please let me know if you find either of them funny.

My first email excerpt is a response I sent to a fellow blogger overseas. My response made me laugh for almost 3 minutes:

[Quoting his email:] BTW, my name is not Juan : )

[My response:] Could you possibly forgive such an error?
Actually FA, there are 3 ways I could go with this [apology].
- I could be honest and tell you I was multitasking, and responding to 3 emails simultaneously (as I waited for my pages to load).
- I could blame it on my sex, women, you know how we are... you are all Johns/Juans to us [lol].
- Or, I could tell you that it was my way of trying to guess your name in a series of emails:
Me: Juan
FA: No
Me: Pedro
FA: No
Me: Francisco
FA: No
Me: Antonio
FA: No

FA's response: No problem.
My email still makes me laugh.

The 2nd email is a work related one. It was a transcript of a global teleconference that I participated in early this morning. There were 43 particpants from around the world. At the end of the call the conversation turned to Olympian feats and medal counts.

Brit guy: Speaking of Olympian feats, I think Team Brazil has managed single handedly to make that sport a featured prime time event for every future Olympics. [please see why]

Brit girl: That’s rather cheeky of you!

Me: laughing quietly in the background at the play on words and visuals

[I was the only American and the only woman of the 5 sitting in the teleconference from NY that laughed. The guys from our offices in Italy and Spain laughed heartily as did the Brit guy. The remaining 37 participants remained silent]

Posted by Michele at August 24, 2004 12:28 PM | TrackBack

Interesting... I'll have to think about this one.

Posted by: Harvey at August 24, 2004 12:10 PM

I thought they were both funny. I also clicked on the link and have to say I was more impressed by the other girl's abs you could see than by the cheeks on display.

Posted by: RP at August 24, 2004 04:01 PM

Must be late in the afternoon but I just don't understand the first one, so I'm going with no I don't find it funny but that could be because I don't understand it.

The second one was hilerous. Maybe the people that didn't laugh havne't seen the pictures of the beach volleyball girls.

Posted by: Machelle at August 25, 2004 04:41 PM

ROFLOL....very, very funny!

Posted by: melissa at August 26, 2004 07:10 PM

i enjoyed immenesly the "cheeky" visual and the joke. The first one was good too. In my experience humor is cultural.

Posted by: Your Desert Friend at August 26, 2004 07:26 PM