On January 24, people across the globe checked their watches at 1.24pm, and then began to smile, cackle, chortle and chuckle. Missed it? So did I. But the event, which was Global Belly Laugh Day, did get me thinking about the different things that make us laugh and smile around the world.
Take Thailand, where it seems every person you pass has got something to smile about. That’s not because all Thai people are enjoying a private joke, however. For Thais, a serene smile is simply good manners when you greet someone.
Then again, those Thai smiles can make a traveller’s day. In fact, any kind of good humour – whether it brings a grin, a giggle or a great big belly laugh – can turn a run-of-the-mill trip into a memorable journey. So if you’re thinking holidays 2013, and you’re on the lookout for a special experience, then why not take yourself somewhere seriously funny?
There’s no independent measure of which countries are funniest. Even so, the social network badoo.com did try to make a definitive ranking a couple of years back. Badoo asked 30,000 people from 15 countries to vote for the world’s funniest nationalities. Inhabitants from these places took the top 10 spots:
- Russia (tied with the Netherlands)
The people behind the survey reckon that it’s America’s comedy exports (Seinfeld, The Simpsons and so on) that earned it the top spot. But when you’re in the US, you’ve only got to look around to see that Americans have a healthy sense of the absurd. The world’s largest peanut monument? (Go no further than Ashburn, Georgia.) Live ‘mermaids’ on show? (Get yourself to Spring Hill, Florida.) What about 10 Cadillacs sunk nose-first into the earth and arranged at exactly the same angle as Cheops’ pyramids? (You’re looking for the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. Naturally.)
As for the rest of the list, what do you think? My limited language skills mean that I’m not often in on the joke when I’m abroad. But I do love comedy in (subtitled!) films from Spain and Italy – particularly anything from Roberto Benigni and Pedro Almodóvar – so rankings two and three definitely make sense to me.
Have you heard any good jokes in your travels? Add your comment to tell us about the best joke you’ve collected from around the world.