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Laugh? I nearly Did

Popularity 6Viewed 5109 times 2014-3-6 19:36 |System category:Life| Humour, translation, comedians, jokes

When a Westerner reads about fitting in with Chinese Culture (something I teach, humbly), there arises the question of humour. Should a Westerner tell a joke among Chinese friends? I am sure Michael M and other ace presenters would say: Not in front of a large audience!  There's nothing worse than a message Lost in Translation and it could be pretty discouraging. However it might be OK to try it out among close Chinese friends. What translates in humour does interest me. In the West we have a saying: Laughter is the Best Medicine. But also have a saying: If you have to explain a joke it is a failed joke. 

Undaunted, I am going to offer our varied Laowai and locals audience a couple of clean jokes. In joke telling, there is a separate risk in any culture of dirty jokes, racist jokes and personally offensive jokes. We should always try to avoid those in any public forum.

One of my favouite intro jokes was used well by a now sadly departed British Comedian called Bob Monkhouse.  Like me when in front of an audience, he said: My friends laughed at me when I was growing up and said I wanted to be a comedian. They are not laughing now!

A short, simple one. However, at least in the West, some comedians fill up their slot with long story jokes which are in themselves entertaining. Another favourite British comedian who lived in my home own of Blackpool is Frank Carson. As he often joked: It's the way I tell 'em!  With a long joke, the punch line sure better be funny!  So here is a longer joke..

I was in the kitchen making breakfast in London while watching the early morning News. A newsflash came on: A gorilla has just escaped from London Zoo. Do not attempt to detain it but call 999 immediately. As I was living near the zoo, I paid attention. I happened to look out the window into the garden and sure enough a gorilla was swinging from my tree. So I quickly dialled 999 - I  thought about asking for Special Branch :-) and explained the situation. They advised I stay indoors and await the zoo keeper. My bell rang so I opened the door in my pyjamas - I know, it is a strange place to have a door :-).  There was a guy in a uniform with a fierce looking dog, a big net and a shotgun. 

He said, do not worry but I will need a bit of help from you. We go into the garden. The zoo keeper explains that HE will climb the tree where the gorilla is now sitting on a branch, taking his net with him. I have to hold the shot gun. He  will shake the tree and the gorilla will fall out. Once the gorilla  falls to the ground, the dog is specially trained to rush over and grab the gorilla's private parts in its mouth. That reminds me of another joke - What do you have if you have a green ball in one hand and another green ball in the other hand? The undivided attention of the Incredible Hulk :-) The gorilla dare not move once the dog has done its part. The keeper then throws the net down over the gorilla and job done.

The zoo keeper asks if I have any questions, seeing a puzzled look on my face. Yes, I reply: Where does the shot gun come into it?

Oh, yes, I  am coming to that, the keeper explains: If, while I am up in the tree, something goes wrong and I get pushed out by the gorilla, you must immediately ... shoot the dog!

Well, did you laugh? or nearly did?

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




Shake hands

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Comment Comment (12 comments)

Reply Report laoren1234 2014-3-7 04:49
I did. It's a good one. And I think it will translate well into Chinese. Well, maybe not so well with Chinese ladies...
Reply Report ColinSpeakman 2014-3-7 06:02
A good point about . With Chinese ladies :I was also careful to use a gorilla and not a panda!
Reply Report ColinSpeakman 2014-3-7 15:15
On laughter, I find this cute in a Chinese kind of way. Contact info for our very own China Daily Forum...
Contact Us :
Email:, Switch the # to @ when you send email to us.
Reply Report ExileMick 2014-3-7 16:37
Might I suggest a jokes section in this forum?
Reply Report voice_cd 2014-3-7 18:22
Thanks for sharing your story here! We have highlighted your story to the homepage.
Reply Report ColinSpeakman 2014-3-8 21:03
voice_cd: Thanks for sharing your story here! We have highlighted your story to the homepage.
Thanks for that! I do not think it actually has appeared there yet :-(
Reply Report KIyer 2014-3-8 23:17
good ones Colin! enjoyed them.
Reply Report ColinSpeakman 2014-3-8 23:21
Xiexie! I hope good jokes can be a regular feature of the Forum!
Reply Report chessgame 2014-3-10 23:57
that teared me up.i just wonder what can happen if something happen with you up there and the guy with the short gun fails to react will be probably sitting down to pee now and cursing yourself why you did call the 999 at the first place.great one it.honestly i got to share this one with friends in out next gathering.
Reply Report ColinSpeakman 2014-3-11 01:53
chessgame: that teared me up.i just wonder what can happen if something happen with you up there and the guy with the short gun fails to react will b ...
Yeah,, do share it!
Reply Report chessgame 2014-3-11 19:22
can you share the joke with balls on both hands?guess what?people have been taking me for a fool coz i walk and laugh alone on the street because of your joke.share more sir.
Reply Report claudeckenni 2014-3-22 04:29
After a year and a half learning Chinese, I still don't get Chinese jokes. And they don't get me either. Maybe I should buy some funny Chinese books from the bookstore...

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