Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

For those of you who have hibernated a bit too long, GSOH stands for ‘Good Sense Of Humour’. Virtually very ad, every on-line profile, mentions ‘GSOH’. It drives me mad, because I believe that sense of humour is a mine field. After all, as Theodore Zeldin said:

I believe that nothing separates people more than their sense of humour”

I am pretty sure that we have all been in similar situations: you are on date with a reasonably good-looking bloke, and then he feels comfortable enough to crack a joke. Except that you don’t find it funny at all. For instance, I don’t get Monty Python jokes. This is because, you see, I was brought up in France. When a guy starts quoting Monty Python and laughing off loud, I feel like yawning. I don’t get it, and even if I am trying, I really don’t find it funny at all. Seriously, what’s so hilarious in mimicking the sound of a horse’s gallop? To be honest with you, I find it incredibly boring. Some guys are also still indulging in jokes about blondes. Frankly, everybody knows that such jokes have long passed their sell-by dates. In short, we all have a slightly different sense of humour. And to make matters even worse, some of it might come with your nationality, your gender or your education. Here are a few examples to better illustrate my point:



Don’t get me wrong, we all love a good laugh…

1. We French love to laugh at somebody else’s expense. We rarely do self-depreciation. We need a target. When we get one, as we tend to be great teases, we are often perceived to be arrogant and rude. So much for trying to be funny, right?

2. The British believe that everybody loves costumed parties. The truth is, tarts and vicar parties aren’t that big a hit abroad. Now you know.

3. Of course Germans have a sense of humour. That said, it is true that they don’t really do stand-up comedies.

4. I have to say that a lot of Frenchmen love to joke about subjects that would upset most Americans, like ethnicity, gender, family, fidelity, and yes, they also love earthy jokes about sex and bodily functions. Please do not hold it against us. In fact, the funny thing is that we Frenchwomen don’t really enjoy such jokes. Go figure.

5. Unlike their French neighbours, Italians have been mocking each other ferociously for more than two thousand years.

So what should you do? Should you nod nicely when he/she cracks a joke that you don’t find funny at all, or should you stand up and leave? Well, it depends. It might not be entirely his/her fault. In my view, you need to cut him/her some slack, and gently explain that well, it didn’t do the trick for you. No pressure, but everything depends on the reaction you will get. Some people absolutely have to prove that they are funny, and instead of backing off and changing subject, they will make it their new purpose in life to convince you that you are an old bore because you didn’t laugh at their jokes. “Oh, come it, it IS funny. You are so stuck-up not to laugh. Let your hair down, I don’t really mean it but…” Others will realise that it was a miss and will gently change subject. They are the keepers. On this note, I would love to hear your stories of failed jokes. Come on, don’t be shy…