"Xenophobe's® Guides: Sense of humour"

Xenophobe's® Guides: Spanish humour

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Jokes with sexual innuendos and accidents associated with daredevil behaviour will guarantee a laugh in Spain. Sarcasm, however, is seldom practised.

Xenophobe's® Guides: A book series that highlights the unique character and behaviour of different nations with insight and humour.

The main thrust of Spanish humour comes from the national attitude to danger. People getting themselves in a tight spot, sometimes fatally, is found terrifically amusing. Hence the success of the annual fiesta when bulls are let loose in the streets of Pamplona, a suicidal revelry repeated in many towns for the sheer fun of the risk of being gored. Similarly, a display of fireworks that goes wrong is invariably looked upon with some hilarity.

Sex is considered the funniest human endeavour, and raunchy jokes will be told in front of anyone and on family television shows, with children all ears, the adults believing the exchange of such humour is rife at school anyway.

The Spanish appreciate sarcasm though seldom practise it. Black humour about the less fortunate is as popular a subject for a laugh as death.

Not much interested in other nations, the Spanish do not go outside their own country to hurl insults. Jokes about mean people equivalent to the standard English jokes about the Scots are usually directed to a small number of people from a village called Lepe in Andalucía. Thus, the riddle: ‘How many Irish (Belgians, Californians or whomever) does it take to unscrew a light bulb?' will become ‘How many people from Lepe...?'

The reputation for being dim was supposedly acquired when a school inspector from Madrid asked the brightest student in the brightest class in the only school ‘Who stole the Rock of Gibraltar from the Spanish?' and got the answer ‘Not I, Sir.' The Lepes, however, are not that stupid. Their mayor has cashed in on their reputation by inviting tourists to experience the Lepe oafishness first-hand.

The Spanish equivalent of April Fool's Day is celebrated on 28th December, known as The Day of the Innocents, which allows television and radio broadcasters to deliberately announce wrong football match scores as a practical joke.

For more, read The Xenophobe's Guide to the Spanish.

Reproduced from Xenophobe's Guide to the Spanish by kind permission of Xenophobe's® Guides.

Photo credit: keith ellwood (hot photo)

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