Germans voted “Least Funny Nationality" in Global Survey

Germans voted “Least Funny Nationality" in Global Survey

• British judged “not as funny as they think”

• Spanish named funniest Europeans, ahead of Italians and French.

• Humour is important when meeting new people

The Germans have been voted the world’s “least funny nationality” in a global poll, which also names Americans the funniest nationality and the Spanish the funniest Europeans.

30,000 people across 15 countries were asked to name both the “funniest” (“best at making people laugh”) and “least funny” nationality in a poll conducted by Badoo.com (www.badoo.com), the world’s largest social network for meeting new people, with 118m users worldwide.

The Americans were voted the world’s funniest nationality, ahead of the Spanish in second and Italians in third.

“One of the first things we notice when meeting new people is whether they make us laugh”, says Lloyd Price, Badoo’s Director of Marketing. “Badoo helps millions of people meet every month.”

The British, who pride themselves on their humour, learn from the Badoo poll that they are not as funny as they think. They ranked just seventh out of 15 countries – behind even the French, who finished fifth.

“I’m afraid that we don’t find some of the results very funny”, says Lloyd Price, who is British himself, with a German girlfriend. 

But the Americans are worthy winners, concedes Price. They have given the world so many great sitcoms and comedians. “Even Obama is much funnier than any European leader.” Indeed, Obama’s recent comic demolition of Donald Trump at a White House dinner went viral on YouTube. “It’s hard to imagine Merkel, Sarkozy or Cameron achieving the same.”

But do the Germans deserve their reputation for lacking humour?

The idea that the Germans are more serious than others is not new. The American writer, Mark Twain declared over a century ago that “a German joke is no laughing matter”.

The stereotype probably derives from the German – or Prussian – reputation for efficiency and rationality, perceived to be at the expense of humour.

Germany also has a very different comedy tradition – in particular, a cabaret tradition of mixing political satire and amusing songs, dating back to the 19th century, when some cabaret stars won national fame. This type of comedy does has not always travelled well.  

There has been a boom in stand-up clubs in Germany in recent years but stand-up comedy in Germany is still much of a recent entertainment form than in, say, America or Britain. 

The stereotype of humourless Germans includes the belief that Germans find it harder than others to laugh at themselves. But the German comedian Henning Wehn has won success in the UK by doing precisely that, often by playing with British stereotypes about Teutonic humourlessness and rationality.

Wehn calls himself “the German comedy ambassador to the United Kingdom… not the easiest of jobs”.

“The British always say that we Germans don’t have a sense of humour”, he tells audiences. “…I don’t find that funny.”

A favourite part of Wehn’s performance involves him dissecting his own jokes in order to explain why they are funny… before pausing to consult the stopwatch around his neck, there because “they always says that timing is the secret of comedy”.

One reason that English-language comedy sometimes gets lost in translation into German involves differences between the languages in grammar and sentence structure. Much English-language comedy relies on the ability to place the key word in the joke at the end of the final sentence. But German grammar makes this harder.

Many jokes in English also rely on wordplay and deliberate verbal confusion, while the greater precision of German perhaps makes it harder to engineer such confusion.

This might be why Germans like physical humour. “One of the iron rules of Germany comedy”, Henning When explains in a video on German jokes, is that “physical humour is best… An old codger [guy] falling over or getting a cake in the face is always funny… even during a famine.”

The British also pride themselves on using humour as the default mode of existence. But Wehn is not impressed. “Laughing about everything indicates a great sense of humour? It doesn’t”, he tells audiences. “It indicates simple-mindedness.”

In the end, however, Germans are no different than anyone else, explains Wehn. “Just like Brits, Germans like to laugh. Let’s forget the small difference that Germans like to laugh once the work is done, whilst Brits prefer to laugh INSTEAD of doing the work.”

Q. Which nationality – excluding your own – do you feel is the funniest and/or best at making people laugh?

The 10 Highest Ranked Nationalities:

Rank

Nationality

 

1.

American

 

2.

Spanish

 

3.

Italian

 

4.

Brazilian

 

5.

French

 

6.

Mexican

 

7.

British

 

8.=

Dutch

 

8.=

Russian

 

10.

Belgian

 

Note: 2,000 Badoo users from each of 15 nationalities were asked to pick from a list of 15 nationalities. Other nationalities in the list from which respondents picked were: German, Polish, Argentinian, Canadian and Turkish.

Source: Badoo Internal Data: 30,000 Badoo users were polled online in April/May 2011 Survey

Q. Which nationality do you feel is the LEAST funny and/or good at making people laugh?

Six Highest Ranked Nationalities:

Rank

Nationality

 

1.

German

 

2.

Russian

 

3.

Turkish

 

4.

British

 

5.

Americans

 

6.

French

 

Note: 2,000 respondents from each of 15 nationalities were asked to pick from a list of 15 nationalities. Other nationalities in the list from which Badoo users picked were Spanish, Italian, Brazilian, Mexican, Argentinian, Canadian, Belgian, Dutch and Polish.

Source: Badoo Internal Data: 30,000 Badoo users were polled online in April/May 2011 Survey

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