Humour is a strange, intangible thing isn’t it? We often just laugh at something without really thinking about why we find it funny. Of course comedy is massively subjective even among people who grew up in the same town, but how does it transfer across cultures? I’ll start with a short tale from my childhood.
When I was 9, I went to France for 10 days as part of a school exchange programme. We were paired off with French kids from a school in Versailles and spent the days all mixed together in the classroom or on sight-seeing trips. At the end of each day we would go off to the family homes of our respective French kids. I remember feeling a bit nervous and homesick, but it was also really interesting to see how French families lived, what they ate, what they did with their spare time and so on.
Looking back, I now realise that my French family were seriously rich – ‘old money’ rich. On the weekend when all the other kids went together on a trip to a local fun fair, I went with my French family to their château in the French countryside. Seriously, it was a proper château! The main building was encircled by a moat and beyond that there were countless acres of forest which the family had been using to hunt deer and wild boar for generations.
This isn’t the exact place, but it looked just like this. How lucky was I? source
My French friend and I spent quite a lot of time running around the grounds, fishing in the moat and doing other things that 9 year olds enjoy. Then, in the evening, I remember the whole family gathered around the television to watch something. I wondered what family treat I was about to enjoy – would it be something my family and I enjoyed like The Muppet Show (or some French equivalent)?
No, I discovered with dread that we had gathered together to watch a 2 hour special of these two: