I try to tell people interested in interpreting, that knowing a language isn’t achieved by knowing a vocabulary.  Knowing a language is cultural, it is becoming the language, being part of the ethos, it  is a change in personality and perspective.
Humor is a great identifier of ones culture.  I always realize how I am not so american when I watch American comedies and how I am even less Mexican than I like to think I am when I watch Mexican comedies.

I suck at pop culture. Both Mexican and American. I’ve never seen Star Wars, Pulp Fiction, American Idol and rarely get the references made in American comedies like The Simpsons.  When I watch or listen to Mexican comedies it is even worse.  El Chavo del Ocho doesn’t make me laugh.  I can’t stand La Familia Peluche and have never once laughed during it.  At least with American comedies I sometimes laugh.  However, in both situations I feel a disconnect especially with people around me who look like the are about to lose bladder control from the laughter.  I’ve been watching a lot of Mexican stand-up comedy and joke telling as of late. I feel overwhelmed by a sense of disconnect and sadness.  I am not really Mexican. I don’t laugh at all and it makes me feel like a failure as a Mexican.  I understand what is supposed to be funny but I don’t find it funny.  I attempt to analyze what it is I am missing.

On the rare occasions I do find a Mexican comedy funny, moments after my laughing as ceased, I realize that my laughter happened naturally and I feel a sense of belonging.   Below is a clip from a vulgar, Mexican comedy show.  I laughed and enjoyed it and was pleased with my enjoyment.  Additionally, here is a link to a blog post by a British friend of mine.  She writes about Americans (and my) inability to comprehend dry wit or sarcasm…although I like to think I prefer dry humor to slapstick.

A funny political aside: my mother who has lived in the the United State for 30+ years now, was flipping through the channels and stopped at a speech being given by Rick Perry.  She listened attentively and then looked at me for a cue and asked “Is he real? Or is this The SNL?”   She wasn’t sure if she was supposed to be laughing.

One thought on “Humor

  1. I think I’d probably have similar reactions to you with a lot of Mexican comedy. Not so much with American comedy, I tend to get it even when I think it goes too far and is too crass, sexist, racist, homophobic, etc. I’m also pretty pop culture literate, so references on the Simpsons or Community make sense to me.

    What I do have trouble with in Mexican comedy is the banter and the constant teasing amongst friends. I can’t really do it. Maybe I can do it with my family, but those are the only people I really feel comfortable ribbing. Plus, you have to be pretty quick with those and it takes me a minute to communicate in Spanish since I have to make sure I’m using the right word. I’m pretty good with keeping up with innuendos in English, but I think I’d miss them in Spanish.

    One last thing, I can’t do the Mexican slang without feeling like a total poser. I know how to use phrases like “no manches” (o mames) and words like guey and chido, but it just sounds weird. I feel like the old person trying to be cool.

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