Monday, June 20, 2011

Funny old world

The Germans have been voted the least funny humans on Earth in an international poll. I feel for them. In the 1920s, a brilliant young comedian called Adolf Hitler was on the verge of ousting Charlie Chaplin as the world’s premiere clown. Then the Germans put him in charge of their government – immediately his jokes grew stale, and by the outbreak of WW2 he had completely lost his comic timing. As the war drew to a close, even his moustache stopped being funny. Little wonder that he killed himself. 

The Hitler debacle severely disabled the German sense of humour, making it virtually impossible for them to laugh at verbal gags. A recent example of this incapacity was seen in the dismissal of an office worker in Mainz for saying “Ja wohl, Mein Führer!” to his boss’s secretary. Although a court later re-instated the man, it did so on the grounds that he had deserved a warning before being sacked. His claim that the remark had been jocular rather than nostalgic fell on deaf ears. The only acceptable jokes in modern Germany are slapstick pranks, such as a wedding singer swallowing his microphone

The dire post-war climate forced the few remaining funny Germans to emigrate. Once such luminary was Professor Heinz Wolff of Brunel University, whom I met many years ago in a VIP lounge. 

“Professor Wolff,” I said, “I watched you perform on television and you made me chortle like a chipmunk. Do you employ joke writers or is it all your own material?” 

“You misunderstand my role, Mr Bananas,” replied the egg-headed one sternly. “I am a scientist, not a comedian, and any humour in my remarks is incidental to their main purpose. I do not have a comedy act and would never perform in a circus as you do.” 

“Come, come, Professor Wolff!” I protested. “You enjoy making people laugh as much as I do! If all you cared about was Science, you would stay in your laboratory doing experiments.” 

The professor tossed his head in irritation, briefly dazzling me with the glare from his shiny pate. 

“I admit I would enjoy making people laugh by performing experiments on you,” he said in a slightly menacing tone. 

I decided not to rile him any further. You never know what these German scientists will do when they get a bee in their bonnet – look at Dr Frankenstein. 

I am glad to say that Professor Wolff did not tone down his comic persona as a result of our tête-à-tête. The pinnacle of his career came later, when he gave his views on penis enlargements in an interview with Ali G. Being a seasoned wag, he was quick to point out that he didn’t need one himself, whatever his sympathies for men who were meagre in the meat-pole department. 

Sadly, there is no medical procedure for a humour deficiency. Perhaps the Germans should pay more visits to the USA, whose citizens were voted the funniest in the poll. Many of them manage to make people laugh without even trying. Take Mr Chris Roller, for example, who believes he is God and has tried to sue famous magicians for misappropriating his divine powers. This excerpt from a talk show shows what a promising talent he is.

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if they hadn't tried to incinerate all the jewish comedians they might have retained their sense of humor!
for some reason i think it is very funny that germans are the least funny humans (weird huh)

(ali g, - now there is a funny man)
I thought Adolf Hitler was most funny when he was Der Fuhrer...but now that you mention the whole dismissal of an office worker for such a minor offense and all...
I think my conclusion from all this is that, while not all humans are funny, we are all of us, very weird.
Thanks for making me laugh GB! Good one after a bad day.

Most of the time when I meet Germans here, it's usually halfway through some Octoberfest party, when they're all pumped with German beers and sausages.
It's funny to see them then :)
I must say Mr. GB, I've never met a German I didn't like. I wouldn't know about their sense of humour though, but they've done well on the overcompensating politeness front.

Maybe they can learn a few tip's off the pages of Keeanu Reeves' book "Ode to Happiness".

Ali G is hilarious. I used to be his #2 fan.
think 'Steve' nailed it!
Billy: I suspect they lost their sense of humour long before they started incinerating people.

Dull boy: The sight of long-faced Germans not getting a joke IS very funny, so maybe that's what you were subconsciously thinking of.

Static: I wonder if Hitler ever fired anyone? Somehow I feel that firing people without using bullets wasn't his style.

Steve: I hope you're not suggesting that Professor Wolff is weird. He is remarkably conventional for a mad scientist.

Jaya: I'm glad you've got Germans to watch in your neck of the woods. Have you seen them indulge in slapstick behaviour?

Azra: Well said, Miss Azra. Whenever I hear anti-German sentiments, I sing the lyrics of Don't Let's be Beastly to the Germans. Ali G had an Austrian alter-ego called Bruno. Did you like him as well?

SD&BS: Yes, he's a shrewd old goat.
As an American I'd like to point out that even second and third generation German immigrants aren't all that funny.

Until they're drunk. Then -- no. They're not funny then, either.

Did Hitler die, or was it just a particularly tough crowd?
Okay, thought on humor: Humor is probably one of the most important things you need to get through life. You have to be able to laugh at yourself...not take yourself too seriously, etc.

People without a sense of humor make me sad...and uncomfortable. You just want to yell, "Lighten up!"
Mr. Roller isn't God? Darn...wrong again.
You're wrong, GB. Hitler's mustache is STILL funny.
I kinda feel badly for the good-hearted Germans who want to get a sense of humor but don't know how.
Pearl: There are third generation Germans in America? What happened to the melting pot? If they interbred with Hispanics the problem would be solved.

The Jules: He died on stage with his dog and mistress, who were equally unfunny.

Frisky Virgin: They make me uncomfortable too, Miss Virgin. I try to find a cushion to sit on when they're near.

Emma: Did his boyish sincerity convince you, Emma? Maybe you have a weakness for sincere boys.

Fred: That's because the Russians pulled it off his face and put it in a jar. It turned green in 1969.

Robyn: Maybe they need to start from scratch, Robyn. Live with the chimps and copy their funny faces.
Nice pic of Michael Bay.
There isn't enough of ole Professor Heinz Beinz on TV these days - i miss Ze Great Egg Race terribly, although not as much as The Crystal Maze clearly.

And what about the clever word puns - like "Why is it so quiet in Canada?", "because there's no-one there" - which is based on the fact that in Germany kann-e-da sounds the same as the word for "no one there"

its a wonder their sides dont split
Germans just take things very literally whereas most humour has to do with exaggerating stuff dramatically. If you try and tell a joke to a German about 'Why did the tomato blush?' they will immediately look perplexed and start rambling on about 'but this is not at all possible. A tomato is a fruit and not human and so can have no emotions.' Still you can't have everything - although to be honest I'd rather have a sense of humour rather than the most efficient economy in Europe.
Worked for a German company and visited often... natural comedians??? Not so much..

But I did catch a stirring version of West Side Story there.
Seriously now, how can anything said in such a harsh, guttural language be construed as funny? They need to get rid of that dreadful "ch" sound altogether, and learn to trill their r's like the Italians.
@ Monsieur Bananas: Yes, I agree. If 'Valkyrie' was based on actual events, I think "firing" and "killing" were analogous in Hitler's vocabulary and thinking.
Ambrose Mugwump: Is he related to Hitler?

DFTP: Professor Wolff is getting on now, I think he's earned his retirement. Word puns might be funny if Germans were laughing at them.

Emma: So that's why you can't say "Ja wohl, Mein Fuehrer!" in Germany - they might think that Hitler has risen from the grave.

Catscratch: Well, at least they aren't averse to singing in funny Latino accents.

Madam Z: Perhaps the German language is only funny when spoken in a rant, Madam Z. It's a pity they're so afraid of resurrecting ghosts from the past.

Static: Although I believe Hitler's secretary said he was a wonderful boss who always kept his pistol in his holster. I suppose a dictator giving dictation is in his element.
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