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Old 05.07.2010, 14:18
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A Swiss sense of humour.

In England, a sense of humour, the use of comedy is integrated into the language and culture. It pervades workplace banter, socialising, most conversations, and all media.

I am probably biased, but I have not seen anything similar in other European countries.

On various School French Exchanges in the 80s, it seemed the French had only one joke repeated by every school child (which involved a Frenchman throwing an "Arabe" out of a plane to reduce the weight).

In Germany, I found the humour not too far from the English, most (educated) Germans seemed able to appreciate a joke. There are amusing movies, and even a sitcom worth watching - Stromberg which is the German rip-off of The Office. I strongly disagree with the stereotype of Germans being humourless.

After a couple of years in Switzerland, I have not seen much evidence of humour. This is not to say that the Swiss are miserable, however I soon found that English humour is best rationned in the (Swiss German) workplace.

Any anecdotes of Swiss humour? Every country must have humour somewhere, I am sure it exists in abundance in Switzerland, I just have not found it yet. ()
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Old 05.07.2010, 14:23
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Re: A Swiss sense of humour.

Comments on Swiss Humour by John Cleese.

(It's not a big article)
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Old 05.07.2010, 14:31
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Re: A Swiss sense of humour.

I lived in Munich for 12 years and agree with you about the Germans, lovely people!

In Zurich I went out with a Swiss lady for a year whom had worked in the British museum for 4 years, and was also married to an Englishman (A disaster as it turned out he was an unfaithful cross- dresser!) However to get back on track, her English was very good, but whenever I cracked a subtle joke she used to raise her voice and say "Don't be so stupid!" I would then explain the joke and she would wander off into her corner muttering to herself.

So I would recommend you don't waste any time joking with the Swiss in an English manner. They do have humour, it is more subtle and based on a village way of life, and after about 20 years here you can see the funny side.
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Old 05.07.2010, 14:50
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Re: A Swiss sense of humour.

I did once witnesses a swiss accountant (!!), dressed up as a ballet danser (the girl type, with tutu!) performing on someone's birthday. It was hilarious. So it exists, I guess..
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Old 05.07.2010, 14:57
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Re: A Swiss sense of humour.

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They do have humour, it is more subtle and based on a village way of life
That's the approved English euphemism for the Swiss word "special", is it?

It would appear that Mr Cleese can't tell his Black Forest from his Bavaria
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Old 05.07.2010, 15:37
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Re: A Swiss sense of humour.

Sorry midas, we are all biased. Other Europeans can certainly have a great sense of humour,though differs from place to place and can get lost in the translation, never mind from country to country. Don't know many Americans who get my jokes at all.
Have got the same blank expression of incomprehension from my own countrymen and women who have been living in Switzerland a decade or so too, they seem to lose their sharpness and go a bit fuzzy.
Could be language related and not cultural. Easily cured by a month of breaking your sides laughing at home I reckon.
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Old 05.07.2010, 15:43
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Re: A Swiss sense of humour.

At first I thought it was due to the lack of sun, but that can't possibly be the case- otherwise all you English/Scottish/Irish lot would be no fun at all.

I agree with the others- the germans can be a funny lot, and the further north you go, the blacker the humour gets, it seems. It's great

I think it has a lot to do with the language.. and then the culture that developed with that language. Thanks to our motley mother-tongue being a mix of germanic, french, and scandinavian etc. we have LOTS of words, with many different pronounciations.. so we can juggle words and expressions around a lot, whereas the German language tends to be more direct and literal. I think a large proportion of jokes in english are reliant on this, eg. two words sounding the same but having completely different meanings..

Hmm.. this doesn't explain why the germans seem to be funnier than their alpine counterparts.

Or.. maybe we just don't understand the german/swiss humour? Once I watched a Helge Schneider DVD with german friends, and they were literally rolling around with laughter and I was sitting there with a slight smirk.. I thought it was funny, but not that funny.
Another example was a retirement party when some guys dressed up in flouro-cycling gear and acted out a skit. The room was full of laughter, yet I didn't find it funny at all. I thought it was the kind of stuff which school children laugh at. They must have thought 'gee, these Australians are a sober bunch'
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Old 05.07.2010, 15:51
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Re: A Swiss sense of humour.

English humour is mostly based on self-deprecation, as they are acutely aware of their many shortcomings, the lack of which in Swiss people contribute to what foreigners might identify as lack of humour.

Or, in other words, for those of you who, like me, fail to understand the above sentence after reading it again: We are so perfect there is nothing to laugh about.
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Old 05.07.2010, 15:55
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Re: A Swiss sense of humour.

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English humour is mostly based on self-deprecation, as they are acutely aware of their many shortcomings, the lack of which in Swiss people contribute to what foreigners might identify as lack of humour.

Or, in other words, for those of you who, like me, fail to understand the above sentence after reading it again: We are so perfect there is nothing to laugh about.
There ya go ! A real Swiss joke Obviously irony plays an important part in the local humour.

All in jest (and the best possible taste)...
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Old 05.07.2010, 16:03
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Re: A Swiss sense of humour.

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English humour is mostly based on self-deprecation, as they are acutely aware of their many shortcomings, the lack of which in Swiss people contribute to what foreigners might identify as lack of humour.

Or, in other words, for those of you who, like me, fail to understand the above sentence after reading it again: We are so perfect there is nothing to laugh about.
This could explain why the parts of Britain with the most developed sense of humour are those where life is a bit rough around the edges.
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Old 05.07.2010, 16:11
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Re: A Swiss sense of humour.

After many years here, I have to conclude that 'a Swiss sense of humour' is an oxymoron.
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Old 05.07.2010, 16:11
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Re: A Swiss sense of humour.

Apart from telling the "Ausländers" that you cannot flush after 10pm and hiding brown sugar from them there is really no humor.

In fact Switzerland voted against humor in the early 70s (see "Frauenstimmrecht") and against irony in the 80s (see "Armeeabschaffungsinitiative").
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Old 05.07.2010, 16:11
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Re: A Swiss sense of humour.

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English humour is mostly based on self-deprecation, as they are acutely aware of their many shortcomings, the lack of which in Swiss people contribute to what foreigners might identify as lack of humour.
True, self-depreciation is one basis for English humour, but there are many others. Character foibles for example (e.g. Fawlty towers), exaggeration, curious juxtapositions, surrealism, even something as simple as antiquated diction (using old fashionned language). Humour is multi-dimensional. I would guess that other nationalities can only tune into certain aspects of a foreign humour. Even Americans will find aspects of English humour inpenetrable. There is plenty of good American humour, it tends to be joke based rather than character based.

What are the Swiss classics?
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Old 05.07.2010, 16:22
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Re: A Swiss sense of humour.

That would be a classic:

http://www.artfilm.ch/hdsoldatlaeppli.php

Making fun of the army.
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Old 05.07.2010, 16:37
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Re: A Swiss sense of humour.

Someone must have forgotten to tell the Swiss people I work with they have no sense of humour. We have loads of fun in our office including lots of jokes, slagging off and general merriment. So much so going to work is usually not a chore.
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Old 05.07.2010, 16:40
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Re: A Swiss sense of humour.

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English humour is mostly based on self-deprecation, as they are acutely aware of their many shortcomings, the lack of which in Swiss people contribute to what foreigners might identify as lack of humour.

Or, in other words, for those of you who, like me, fail to understand the above sentence after reading it again: We are so perfect there is nothing to laugh about.
Actually, there is a lot of self deprecating talk going on in Switzerland. Practically all Swiss I know will from time to time drift into a complaining mode about all the things they don't like about Switzerland, and this can be about anything from how useless the government is to how "Bünzli" their neighbours are. Only this complaining activity is kept strictly separate from their humour (at least in the older generation).
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Old 05.07.2010, 16:44
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Re: A Swiss sense of humour.

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True, self-depreciation is one basis for English humour, but there are many others. Character foibles for example (e.g. Fawlty towers), exaggeration, curious juxtapositions, surrealism, even something as simple as antiquated diction (using old fashionned language). Humour is multi-dimensional. I would guess that other nationalities can only tune into certain aspects of a foreign humour. Even Americans will find aspects of English humour inpenetrable. There is plenty of good American humour, it tends to be joke based rather than character based.
I guess humour get flatter and simpler the further South you go. When I was in South America most jokes I ever heard were of the style " A man fell off his bike, ha ha ha". But then people didn't really laugh about jokes but just laughed without jokes making me wonder what their jokes were actually for.
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Old 05.07.2010, 17:18
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Re: A Swiss sense of humour.

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What are the Swiss classics?
EMIL is a classic comedian.
Here are a few LINKS to comedic sketches on YouTube - (my personal favorites in BOLD) :

Walter Roderer - Die Bassgeige Volksschauspieler Walter Roderer mit Marco Rima (Fackelzug) und Ruth Jecklin (Bassgeige)
David Bröckelmann - Hakans Welt 2
David Bröckelmann - Hakans Welt 3
David Bröckelmann - Ein Fussballmärchen
Divertimento - Strassenmusiker
Divertimento - Beim Doktor
Divertimento - Am Humor-Festival in Arosa
Duo Hinterletscht - In the Ghetto
Fabian Unteregger - Moritz Leuenberger
Lapsus - Handy-Verkaufsgespräch
Lapsus - Bei Benissimo
Lapsus - Bühnenaufbau Arosa
Lapsus - Politiker mit Weibel
Les Trois Suisses - Cantaloop
Les Trois Suisses - Aisha
Marco Rima - Erlkönig
Massimo Rocchi - Hochdeutsch
Massimo Rocchi - Essen in der Schweiz
Michel Gammenthaler - Glas-Mirakel
Michel Gammenthaler - Supergedächtnis
Peach Weber - Gedichtli
Peach Weber - Gedichtli 1
Peach Weber - Gedichte 2
Rob Spence - Comedy Mix
Rob Spence - Ballon
Schmirinskis - beim Tennis
Schmirinskis - mit Melanie Winiger
Schmirinskis - die Unvollendete
Schmirinskis - am CH AT Zoll
Simon Enzler - Ursprung Wirtschaftskrise
Simon Enzler - Bei Giacobbo/Müller
Ursus und Nadeschkin - Ansprache
Ursus und Nadeschkin - Tattoo

Ursus und Nadeschkin - Uhu

Viktor Giacobbo - Ischä dä Gaggä
Viktor Giacobbo - weitere Videos
Edelmais - Rita und Reto
Edelmais - beim Skifahren
Giacobbo & Müller - z.B. Nr. 8
Ricola - Anruf Paul Panzer Aktuelle TV-Spots von Ricola

The Swiss must have a sense of humor otherwise none of these people would have jobs.

Last edited by zwissmiss; 05.07.2010 at 17:51.
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Old 05.07.2010, 17:24
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Re: A Swiss sense of humour.

The Swiss have three jokes –

Lovely young lady gets custard pie in face
Lovely young lady loses her clothes
Lovely young lady gets custard pie in face and loses all her clothes
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Old 05.07.2010, 17:28
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Re: A Swiss sense of humour.

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The Swiss have three jokes –

Lovely young lady gets custard pie in face
Lovely young lady loses her clothes
Lovely young lady gets custard pie in face and loses all her clothes
four jokes depending on the order of events for the last one...

also agree that germans are a lot funnier than the stereotype portrays.
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