Cultural Differences

Humor differs from one person to the other and from one society to another one. It is influenced by one’s culture and beliefs that is what determines how people respond to different kinds of humor. In the Egyptian culture topics like sex, politics and religion are considered to be sensitive ones, while in the American culture because of the freedom of speech and the absence of fear, almost anything is acceptable. American comedians have no problem making all kinds of jokes about race, religion, homosexuality, politicians, leaders, sex… etc. However, before the revolution Egyptians never made jokes about their president Housni Moubarak, and that was due to fear. But during and also after the uprising Egyptians were making fun of Moubarak in any way possible because they broke that wall of fear. Americans  make fun of everything from their presidents to religion;however, in Egypt it is extremely sensitive to talk about one’s religion, and it is even worse to make fun of it. Also Americans tend to make jokes about serious situations, for example Jon Stewart made fun of the revolution by saying that the two million protesters were out in the streets because they wanted to go to Hardee’s. This can be a very funny joke to most Americans, but some Egyptians might take it as an offense towards their dignity and revolution. But on the other hand Egyptians made their own jokes about the revolution, which we saw in the signs that some protesters were holding. For example some of the signs were saying: “Please leave my arm hurts”, “Please leave… I got married twenty days ago and I miss my wife”, and other jokes about the president. Here we witness how even if Egyptians made fun of their president, they did it in a different way which is less vulgar than the American humor. It was also for a different purpose than just being funny, the jokes that the Egyptians made were a way of calming the streets, and easing the people’s stress. In conclusion what one might find funny, can be considered offensive or just not funny to another person.

Soumia, Sam, Zakariya & Angham.

This entry was posted in CCR exchange: Stanford-AUC, Spring 2011: Humor and Political Regimes. Bookmark the permalink.

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