I teach English at a university in Guangzhou. One week, I thought it might be a good exercise to explore the cultural differences between East and West through the mechanism of humour. As part of the exercise, I asked my students, mostly first and second year college students from Guangdong Province, to each share their favourite joke with the class. Here are some of my favourite ones.
A panda walks into a bar, and says, “I would like a glass of……..”
The bartender says, “Why the pause?”
The panda says, “Dude, I’m a panda. Of course I have paws.”
A man’s wife cooked shrimp fried rice for the first time and gave him a full bowl. It tasted salty and dry and was difficult to swallow.
The wife look at him carefully and said, “is my cooking delicious?”
“Very!” said the man, not wanting to hurt his wife’s feelings. “It’s so delicious I just wish there was more!”
The wife breathed a sigh of relief: “No problem,” she said. “You can have mine. I don’t like it. i’m going to order a takeaway.”
Mrs. Brown: Oh, my dear, I have lost my precious little dog!
Mrs. Smith: But you must put an advertisement in the papers!
Mrs. Brown: It’s no use, my little dog can’t read.
There was once a man walking along a riverbank. On his journey, he saw another man on the opposite side of the river. This man started waving his hands in the air, shouting, “Please help me! Quickly! I have to get to the other side!”
The first man thought about it for a moment, then said, “But friend, you’re already on the other side,” and continued on his journey.
I love the typically understated opening in this one:
Someone died. When he went to heaven he said to God, “What does a thousand years of time mean to you?”
“Only a minute,” God replied.
“Okay,” the man said. “So what does ten thousand gold pieces mean to you?”
“It is a meaningless amount,” God replied.
“In that case,” said the man, “Would you mind lending me a gold piece?”
“No problem at all,” God said. “Just wait a minute.”
Girl: “Quick! Call me an ambulance!”
Boy: “You’re an ambulance.”
A man called the hospital and said, “My wife is going into labour what should I do?”
The nurse replied, “Is this her first child?”
“No, this is her husband.”
Teacher: Why are you late for school every morning?
Tom: Every time I come to the corner, a sign says, “School-Go slow”.
– Ironically, a student called Tom, who is always late.
A man tried to get a job in a stage show. “What can you do?” asked the producer.
“Imitate birds,” the man said.
“Are you kidding?” answered the producer, “People like that are a dime a dozen.”
“Well, I guess that’s that.” said the actor, as he spread his arms and flew out the window.
Do you want to hear a really long joke?
An old couple went to take a photo, the photographer asked, “Grandpa, do you want side light, back light or full light?”
The uncle shyly replied: “I don’t care, can you give your aunt a pair of shorts?”
That last one is fairly typical of the kind of things my students usually come out with. I’ll be honest, not many of them make much sense to me. Is it a translation problem? If so, what could it be? Or is the joke actually hilarious, and I’m just being thick?
You tell me.
At least she tried, though.
My new book, This is China Part 3: The Wilderness Years is out now on Red Dawn Publications.