Henning Wehn explains the subtle differences between British and German humourby Henning Wehn / November 16, 2011 / Leave a comment
Published in December 2011 issue of Prospect Magazine
Guten Tag! My name is Henning Wehn and I am the German Comedy Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Not the easiest of jobs because people always say we don’t have a sense of humour. Well, I don’t find this funny.
Let’s get one thing straight. Germans like a laugh. Just like the Brits. It’s just Germans laugh once the work is done. Brits laugh instead of doing any work.
In stark contrast to the usual trademark modesty and understatement, no Brit will ever get tired of letting the world know about his or her great sense of humour, which all other nationalities, and in particular Germans, lack.
It might come as a surprise but pub jokes in Britain and Germany are largely identical. An old codger falling over or getting a cake in the face is always funny. Even during a famine. Also, two fat blokes, a cannibal or a vicar guarantee a good pub joke in any country.
What is unique about Britain is the massive social importance of humour, particularly the widespread usage of self-deprecation in the workplace. An infuriating concept! How can trying to laugh off failure be a positive character trait?