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Laugh and get wiser! Jokes and witty wisdom for adults

By Gilbert Van Kerckhove | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-03-28 03:48
[Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Gilbert Van Kerckhove is from Belgium and is a permanent resident with a Green Card in Beijing. He is a businessman, author, blogger and speaker on economy, politics, environment and society, in China since 1980.

I always loved jokes and cartoons. They can be serious as they point out the silliness in our lives, convey a subtle message of wisdom and at the same time bring a smile. Sometimes there is little difference between a joke and life wisdom. Maybe life is just a big joke.

I started collecting jokes I received from different sources over a period of some 25 years. For the book I opted for an "Anglo-Saxon" collection. They are typical for the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Where are they from? Who wrote them? Generally speaking, nobody knows the original source. Most are everywhere, floating anonymously on the internet, and circulate among friends, e-mails, chat groups and mailing lists. Many come up over a beer. The compilation gives an overview of the most popular ones. Call it a glimpse of internet jokes.

The language of humor is not universal and translating into another language mostly does not work. Different cultures have a different understanding of what is “funny”. Living in China for a long time, I gave up telling jokes as our Chinese friends find nothing funny in them and they can lead to misunderstandings. Worse, they start asking a zillion questions of the why and what and how. Trying to translate Chinese jokes also would mostly fail to convey anything “funny” for us Westerners; I can say I cannot recall any Chinese joke.

While at a first sight the book may not be interesting to Chinese readers, due to the cultural differences, it is a nice tool for our friends to learn about typical Western humor, as well as to learn a different vocabulary. Also, for those who deal with Westerners, here in China or when abroad, they might surprise their foreign friends by serving them some jokes they can appreciate. 

Most Chinese are totally unfamiliar with the Western world of jokes, they are puzzled or even shocked. They wonder why there are so many about the (“dumb”) blondes, the Irish, the Scottish, as well as the many references to domestic situations, such as between married couples, the hilarious comments from kids, and of course the many references to the human anatomy and intimacy. As it turns out, exactly those are highly rated by the readers of my book.

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