What is funny for you could be offence for others

Last week we covered the first important part of understanding a culture: knowing their idiomatic expressions. Today I’ll be discussing the second part which in my opinion is much harder than the first: understanding their sense of humour. What is funny in your culture could be found offending in other cultures.
My first introduction to Spanish humour was through studying a few chapters of Don Quixote which I found it hilarious (I found the chapter where he attends a funeral of a shepherd tears-rolling funny!). But when travelling to Spain and facing modern Spaniards (not Cervantes’s version) I found their sense of humour very difficult to follow and understand.
I remember many situations where I smiled politely because I didn’t understand the joke or the comment.
Last Ramadhan, I decided to investigate the Spanish sense of humour so that I could call myself a real “Malagueña” (a woman from Malaga). So, what I did was to watch the Spanish comedy club on YouTube.
There were many stand-up comedians and I had to go through almost all of them to decided which one was my favourite.
This was really tricky as when most of them spoke, I just frowned while the audience laughed.
And then I came across a lady called Eva Hache which was the only one who made me smile (along with another video for a guy called David Guapo).
I changed my mind totally after watching a couple more). What I enjoyed most about Eva’s videos was her body language which reminded me a lot of my teacher Patricia.
When the Spaniards crack a joke, they tend to say it loudly with lots of hand gestures.
This was the first lesson I learned while watching the videos.
A couple of days later, I decided that Spanish humour is more of slapstick.
Then I started appreciating Eva’s jokes and was actually smiling at them.
A couple of days later I was laughing at the video where she was making fun of perfume ads.
What also makes Spanish humour distinctive is their abundant use of swear words, in a smart way that makes you laugh instead of being offended.
I decided then to switch to the politer Latin Americans comedy club to compare it with the Spanish ones.
I came across a Costa Rican comedian called Renzo Rimolo.
In this video, Renzo describes the difficulties he faced while learning English language starting from the pronunciation of different English words and ending up with listening classes where he was totally lost.
I was actually laughing because I could relate easily to what he was saying, as I went through the same while learning Spanish (I still find my Spanish accent pretty weird!). As I clicked the like button and continued scrolling down to leave my comment, I noticed that one viewer had left a comment saying that it wasn’t funny at all.
The rest of the viewers appreciated the fact that it was polite and defended Rimolo’s sense of humour describing it as “something that only Costa Rican’s would understand and appreciate”. It was fascinating to read other comments that said: “I’m a Peruvian and I totally get it!” or “I’m a Salvadorian and could relate to it!” This proves that sharing a language doesn’t guarantee understanding each other’s sense of humour.
As for me, I continue my hard work on developing a Spanish satire humour.
I’m sure that my Spanish friends would be proud of me when I meet them in the near future and crack a joke with a loud voice, straight face and loads of gestures!
Rasha al Raisi is a certified skills trainer and the author of:
The World According to Bahja.
rashabooks@yahoo.com