Do French Have A Good Sense Of Humor?

http://fanpop.comSometimes I Google a crazy questions that come through my mind to find ideas for posts on this blog.

Since I am in the US and tend to Google my questions in English, I usually get results “created” by foreigners who like to think that they’re experts about France.

What I find usually makes me laugh or in some cases can also make me mad.

When I Googled the phrase, “do French have a good sense of humor”? I found very irrelevant results that made no sense.  Therefore, I think that Google is in serious needs for more reliable answer to that question.

Such lack of valuable information was a good thing though; because it gave me the perfect opportunity to write a post that will make much more sense as far as the answer to the question Do French have a good sense of humor? And give you insider information versus false information.

http://boutique.ina.frDo French People have Sense of Humor?

Whoever would answer no to that question, obviously doesn’t know what they’re talking about. I know of more humorists in France that made a fortune with their humor than I do here in the US, and considering the size of the country that’s not nothing.

France is a country where every politician, popular actor, singer, journalist and anyone famous has been “made fun of” at one point or another for the sake of humor.  How do they react to that? Usually, pretty well, as a matter of fact.

For one thing France has very talented impersonators that do a great job of stealing people’s voice while professional make-up does the rest as far the physical appearance is concerned.  Then, it’s up to them to make the person they are imitating “say” whatever they want them to say. The results of this is usually tremendously funny, but only if you have some sense of humor.

We had a top notch impersonator who used to imitate President François Mitterrand to perfection and had “him” say hilarious “political made up statements” that made fun of  politics and of the president. No way you could do this in a non-humorist country.

France also has many comics that are not trying to imitate anyone in particular but just make fun of society and all the stupid things that humans do sometimes. They just add a bit of salt and pepper and there you have it; a tremendously funny one man show.

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Louis de Funès

Do French Make Fun of Themselves?

While doing research for this article I read that French don’t like to make fun of themselves.  This is absolutely FALSE.  French make fun of anyone, but first and foremost,  they make fun of themselves.

Just watch French movies, and you’ll understand what I mean.  We have actors that are just natural comedians and make you laugh no matter what they do or say because they’re just funny and good at making fun of French society.

The funniest of all time actors who made France laugh for decades until and (thanks to cinema), even after his death in 1983 was actor Louis de Funes.  I did cry when he died.

Louis de Funès made a career of creating a despicable character who usually represented the “French Corp Boss” with all his ugliness.  He took the truth and just pushed it a bit, and created the funniest character France had ever seen.

I introduced Louis de Funes (through YouTube) to an American friend of mine who can’t understand a word of French, but yet got completely addicted.  Sometimes he tells me “show me some videos of de Funès”.  The reason why this guy can amuse people even if they don’t speak French is that there is much more than words to his comic.  See the video below.

Do French in General Have Some Sense of Humor?

I have to say that French in general, besides, stand up comics and actors have a lot of sense of humor. I remember my family gathering with my uncles, aunts and cousins who loved to tell jokes.  I still  have mental images of us folded in two laughing like crazy.

Some people also use some type of sarcastic jokes and comments on a regular basis, and if you don’t understand humor, well you’ll be in for a ride.  Now, if you don’t understand French or humor, you’d be OK too.

By the way, French humor is just impossible to translate, but I guess that goes for all humor.

French Humor in Movies

Movies are full of humor all the time, even non comic movies.  French use a lot of common slang that is pretty much inherent of the language, and that really adds to such sense of humor.

Because of the huge immigration of North Africans (the Maghreb) and Africans in France the country has found another sense of humor which has become obvious in recent movies where Maghreb people and Africans are  taking over some of the once upon a time 100% French native government positions and jobs.

A recent hilarious movie from 2011 titled “Beur sur la Ville” which means (Maghreb people on the city) which was a humoristic reminder of another famous French movie from the mid 1970’s titled “Peur sur la Ville” which means (fear on the city).

This movie shows how French police is taken over by non-educated immigrants who can barely speak correct French.  Nothing is too far from the truth in that movie, and if you’d ever thought that French don’t have sense of humor than, go watch that movie.

Yes, French people have a very good sense of humor, as a matter of fact, and may be even worse than British humor.  When I say worse, I mean it in a good positive way.  French and British people are by far the most humoristic people in whole Europe and I think even the world over.

I love humor, I grew up in it. Well, I’m French after all!

Leave your comments and feedback below!

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25 Comments

  • Luke Blower says:

    Hi Sylviane, it’s been too long.

    Great article, in my time in Japan I have been lucky enough to befriend people from all over the world. I find my French pals to be particularly self effacing and a little embarrassed of some of French stereotypes.

    One that I found interesting was the image that many french refuse to speak English to visitors to France even when they possess good English ability (which is a view held by many Japanese who have visited France) due to arrogance and pride.

    The truth according to French friends is that many are embarrassed by their strong French accent when they try to speak other languages. I find these kind of cultural misunderstandings and stereo types really interesting.

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Luke and nice seeing you again.

      What you’re saying is true. A lot of people in France that may know “some” English are not anywhere near to be fluent, so they are just shy.

      Tell me about it. A long time ago when I was a student in Paris working in a big departement store, I said three words in English “do you understand?” to some American tourists and while I wasn’t sure about what they were saying I knew they were making fun of me. So, you bet, people are nervous.

      But anyway it has nothing to do with lack of sense of humor 🙂

      Thanks for coming.

  • GladysTwitter: coachgladys says:

    Hi Sylviane

    What can I say, exept to laugh. This video is so comical. Even as I am typing, I cannot stop laughing.

    You are too funny.
    Whenever we are not having a good day, we need to watch this….. post it again and again

    Thanks for making my day. I will be watching this all day

    Gladys posted..Create your blueprint for life..you still have time

    Gladys

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Galdys,

      How great is that? I am so glad you enjoyed and laughed. Laughing is SO good for you!

      This French actor is an natural anti-depressant. I love him so much. He was consider a master of the comedy! Wich he was.

      Thanks for coming and have a great week end!

  • Lisa Magoulas says:

    Sylviane,
    This was really interesting and must have taken you a long time to research. Pretty cool. The video cracked me up. Those faces were hysterical.

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Lisa,

      Actually, this post took me no research at all as far as my content is concerned. I know all that by heart.

      What I did research was what Google was showing up to the question “do french have a good sense of humor”. I found the most idiotic results that either made no sense or were false.

      So, there I had my post. Putting things straight here once for all 🙂 I had so much fum doing it!

      Glad the video made your laugh. I still crack up every time 🙂

  • Carol LynnTwitter: carollynnrivera says:

    Hey Sylviane, that video cracked me up just watching the guy’s face. That is someone who can be humorous without a word. I wonder why people would think that French people don’t have a sense of humor? I imagine everyone has a sense of humor even though it is probably different from culture to culture. I think sometimes Americans take themselves way too seriously!! I can understand why it’s hard to translate though. Lots of times humor plays on language and you really have to understand the language to get the nuances of the humor. But there is also a lot in the delivery and the facial expressions (like your video). I like British humor a lot because they deliver it so seriously sometimes that you don’t expect it. It’s fun to see the different kinds of humor so thanks for sharing this 🙂
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Carol,

      For sure, humor goes with the understanding of the language. As a matter of fact for someone who has a limited understanding of the language humor would go above their head.

      Yes, British have a lot of sense of humor while they keep a pretty straight face. If you watch interviews of actor Hugh Grant you can see that.

      Since I knew that most people watching this video wouldn’t understand the words, I chose one where you don’t have too.

      Thanks for coming and have a great week end!

  • Jeremy Norton says:

    This is one fact that is something new to me. I have to admit I always regard French people as serious people at all times.

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Jeremy,

      Wow, that would be a very wrong way to see them, wouldn’t we? Hope this helped put things in their place then.

  • AdrienneTwitter: adriennesmith40 says:

    Isn’t it upsetting when you find information that you know for a fact isn’t true yet people are spreading that all around as fact? I just finished reading a post about a site that will blacklist people just because I may stop by and say I don’t like that person. And they would take one person’s word for it. Oh my gosh!

    So I had no idea of course what they were saying in the video but I agree, the faces that they made gave you a pretty good idea and I did find that quite funny.

    I never thought that the French didn’t have a good sense of humor. Glad you cleared that up for us though because obviously some people seem to think so. According to information you find on Google right! Well dang then, it must be true! lol…

    Enjoy your weekend Sylviane.

    ~Adrienne
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Adrienne,

      As you know I don’t care when people express their opinion about something. For example, you could say the Eiffel Tower is beautiful or the Eiffel tower is ugly, that’s fine with me. Every body has different tastes, and I would never get mad for things like these.

      When I get mad is when I read idiots saying the French don’t have sense of humor or that they don’t like to make fun of themselves, when it’s so not true, because they absolutely do, darn it 🙂

      Then, I’m thinking, wow, that’s all Google have to show for it! Let me write some accurate content here 🙂

      The video is about that guy who’s being kidnapped and is trying to attract the attention of the two cops by making fun of them and insulting them so he can get arrested. His telling them that he has no papers and no driver’s licence :). However, someone is trying to kill his kidnapper so when they happen to show up at the gas station they get the hell out of there!

      Thanks for coming, and have a great week end

  • Donna MerrillTwitter: donna_tribe says:

    Hi Sylviane,

    I never thought that French people have no sense of humor. I think every culture does, but in their own way. The British are funny with their strait faces and one liners. I guess I never gave it a thought. I do have two good friends from France and we laugh all the time. Then there is you who makes me laugh when we are on the mastermind group!
    I liked that video, watching the expressions on faces.
    It is funny what Google pulls up on things. They do need to learn a thing or two don’t they? OR maybe Google has no sense of humor!
    Donna
    P.S. Thanks again for bringing me closer to the French Culture!
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Donna,

      Well, I’m so glad that you never thought that French people don’t have sense of humor. The sad truth is that some do, thus this post 🙂

      Yes, I like to believe that I have sense of humor, but over the years I’ve noticed that not every one understands it, so I’m just careful depending on who I’m talking to.

      I know that in our master mind group everyone has a good sense of humor and that’s refreshing to me 🙂

      Thanks for adding your thoughts 🙂

  • Harleena SinghTwitter: harleenas says:

    Lovely post Sylviane!

    I enjoyed myself laughing all along and even after that once I saw the video, and yes – as you mentioned the French certainly do have a sense of humor 🙂 🙂

    This thought never actually comes to mind unless someone talks about it. I’m glad you brought it up and cleared it all up. I guess humor is in all of us, just that some of us use it while others prefer not to, and the same must be with various people of various countries. Like even in our country – I would say there’s a lot of humor, but again it would depend on the people and if they really make use of it and laugh or make light of things. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing, and have a nice weekend as well 🙂
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Harleena,

      Nice to see you hear. Yes, humor is a “human” trait so anyone and everyone should have some, right?

      I would say that some countries are definitely MORE free to use humor than others, but as individuals we should all have some sense of humor to lighten our lives.

      I appreciate you’re coming here 🙂

  • Barbara CharlesTwitter: BarbaraCharlesl says:

    I like your article. Very interesting. Never really thought about it before although I took 9 years of French from high school to college. My instructor however, was not French so maybe we didn’t learn enough about the culture and the people. Anyway, thanks for sharing.
    Barbara
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  • Michael Buccilli says:

    Hello Sylviane, I find it interesting that so many people have shared in perpetrated the notion that the French don’t have a sense of humor. You definitely have a sense of humor; and make me smile, even when you’re pushing me forward in my business.I studied the French language all through High School and College and my teachers and professors shared movies of French Comedians over the years and they made me crack up. I am sure that every culture and nationality has there comedians and ability to make it’s people laugh.

  • Sue PriceTwitter: suejprice says:

    Hi Sylviane

    I grew up thinking French people were hilarious as we had a real French person teaching us French at school. She cracked us all up often.

    Now when I lived in London because of the French- British thing I heard many Brits say the French had no sense of humor. In Australia people say it about Americans so that is funny.

    I think people in different cultures have different sense of humors. Some are dryer than others it is just understanding them.

    I loved the video 🙂

    Sue
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Sue,

      Yes, there’s that thing between British and French, they’re not always the best friends. It always amazed me how two countries so close geographically can also be so different in many other ways.

      But I think that now with Paris at one hour from London with the tunnel TGV they both need to get a grip with their BS.

      I do love both French and British humor, because I am not a hatter like those people 🙂 Never been.

      I didn’t know about what Australians thought about Americans. Interesting 🙂

      I’m glad you liked the video 🙂 I had fun putting this post together.

  • Annie AndréTwitter: annieandrehacks says:

    Some of my closest friends here in France are complete joksters. I wonder if people think the French have no sense of humour is because they have no contact with real French people except in sterile business like environments. i.e. the bank, at the airport, the front desk etc.
    In fact, Jerry lewis is loved in France for goodness sakes. Oh well, it’s always the least informed with the loudest opinions..
    C’est la vie. 🙂
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Annie,

      That’s right, good point. If the only French person you know is someone at your job in another country you might not know that they have any sense of humor. For this, you would need to spend some time outside of work.

      I think that French people are great joksters indeed! France as some of the best impersonators in the world.

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