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Sensitive content warning: this post contains sexual references and swearing, which some people may find offensive.
There are some things that make everybody laugh regardless of their cultural background. There are, however, some differences in sense of humour between nations. Even in the English-speaking world, some things that are dead serious to Americans seem incredibly funny to the British (and probably vice-versa).
Here’s a subjective list of things that are guaranteed to make Poles laugh:
1. The Czech language
The thought that a language might make people laugh may sound surprising, but it’s true. The Czech language sounds ridiculously funny to the Polish ear. Although both languages derive from a common core and have many similarities they evolved for centuries on their own. Most Czech words sound to Poles like diminutives of their own words, pronounced with an awkward accent, which could be likened to dwarf-speak. What is more, many similar-looking and sounding words have completely different meanings. Simple notices about bus departures at a bus station in the Czech Republic can make a Polish person laugh like crazy; the Czech word for ‘departures’ means ‘faeces’ in Polish. ‘Laska’ (Czech for love) is Polish for ‘blow job.’ I could go on like this for a long time. Anything, which would be normally regarded as funny – when it has the Czech factor added – leads to Poles going completely mental.
An example of Czech language:
and again, with modern audio:
2. Foreign people speaking Polish
Foreign people speaking Polish, or foreign people generally, used to be a very rare thing in Poland. Hearing them speaking Polish is always entertaining. If you’re a foreigner and you want to make the atmosphere more relaxed, say something in Polish (and try to squeeze in some mistakes). Poles will be impressed by your effort to learn their language, that many people regard as difficult (but don’t be fooled, it’s pretty easy).
Example of foreign people speaking Polish:
Political jokes and political satire during communist times were a way of coping with the annoyances of the system. And there was always something to laugh about. There was a saying that Poland was “the merriest barrack in the communist camp.” This approach to politics continues today, and it has to be acknowledged that Polish politicians basically write scripts for comedians with their irrational acts.
Polish politics meets The Muppets
This might come as a surprise, but Poles love to laugh at themselves (but they don’t like it when others do so) and everything that is substandard, weird, awkward, broken, or baldly organised in this country.
The way that westerners don’t understand some things about Polish reality makes many people laugh (and others sigh). Westerners used to be particularly funny in the past, when Polish reality was more complicated, and they were thought to be unable to comprehend it. The lost foreigner used to be a regular feature in Polish comedy films and series.
6. Hong Kong
Look how people laugh when you mention Hong Kong
7. Peasant people
Years of communism and appreciating the working class and peasant people didn’t really work on the Poles. Peasant people or unqualified workers are commonly associated with inarticulate language, bad grammar, poor vocabulary, tasteless demeanour and occasional problems with personal hygiene. They are a constant source of fun for urban and middle-class Poles. They are mercilessly mocked by the whole pop-culture.
(Stereo)typical peasant person (here fragments of a genuine local election advert):
Poles are in fact huge snobs.
8. Lack of general knowledge
As stated above, Polish people have a tendency towards snobishness. This, combined with an education system focused on feeding students general knowledge basics from all disciplines, makes Polish people sensitive to signs of lack there-of. Not knowing the capital of Bolivia, the main river in Russia, or the exact date of the battle of Racławice, can put you to shame. Be warned. Have ways of escaping questions of this kind in advance. Or you might become a laughing stock.
9. Mohair berets.
In the Polish army different beret colours stand for different departments in the army. Mohair berets stand for the elderly ladies (babcias), followers of a local powerful conservative ultra/pseudo-Catholic televangelist leader. Mohair berets is their favourite headgear – and the faithfulness and discipline they they display resembles that of the army – hence the name. Mohair berets are guardians of the social order as they see it. Although in popular belief mohair berets are perceived as blind-to-argument, overwhelmed by all sorts of conspiracy theories, uneducated, aggressive, and xenophobic.
Cabaret mocking mohair berets:
Mohair beret lady arguing her political views calls a street seller speaking for news tv a ‘bitch’:
10. Psychodelic Christian music-videos
Here is the original, aired on a Catholic show on Polish public tv with a genuine Catholic bishop. “Christian is dancing”
Then came mathematics remake “ Parabolas are dancing”
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