What Makes You Laugh?

Is This Sign Funny to You?

The #LetsBlogOff question of the day is an interesting one given I’m traveling abroad. “What makes you laugh?” is the question. The answers, as the #LetsBlogOff riffs always are, will be as varied as the participants, a list of which you can find here. For those of you who responded to my last blog-off post so generously, I was to be in Trouville, France, right now exploring Marguerite Duras’ favorite seaside town where she and Yann Andrea Steiner made literary magic. I’m thrilled to be in Brighton a day early, thanks to Modenus’ Veronika Miller and Tim Bogan, but let’s just say strikes and gasoline shortages aren’t at all funny, and not just because they keep you from getting where you want to go.

So back to the question: what does make me laugh? I have realized since traveling through England that my sense of humor is, uh, American. Imagine that! I might not have even thought about the fact that humor is a cultural thing had I not been in Europe while writing this. As I was traveling around with a group of American journalists brought over to tour several Dorchester Collection properties, it was clear that we were not laughing about the same things the Brits found funny. In fact, the stories that we told each night as we reconvened for drinks or dinner were of cultural flubs from one perspective or the other. One of our group was asked if she was a “red indian” by one of our drivers, who also noted that the other ladies in the car were simply “plain” compared to her (we never did figure out which was a compliment and it was too ridiculous to ask)! Another driver said he’d been a “trolly dolly” for British Airways for years and then proceeded to laugh himself silly. It’s a delightful term for an airline steward but was it really that funny?

None of the Brits we told about the sign we found in Eton for The Porny School thought it was humorous while we’d laughed until we cried. As it turned out, it is a school for young children. No, child pornography isn’t funny, but bumping into such a sign for such a place in such a context was the perfect comic relief for a bunch of stressed-out journalists who were under pressure to get their story angles right and get them filed.

It’s election day in America and I’m quite nervous about it. If the Republicans regain control, we could be in for a frustrating several years that I don’t want to have to bear but that’s politics as they say. To close this rather rambling post (apologies but I am out rambling at the moment), I thought I’d let one of my favorite Brits dish about one of my least favorite politicians on this tenuous election day. No, I truly don’t think politics are funny but John Cleese on Sarah Palin is: Monty Python could have written it, indeed!

  • ModernSauce

    I don’t care what country you’re from if someone doesn’t think “porny school” is funny they must be dead on the inside!

  • Bob Borson

    Yes – that picture is very funny. But as funny as “The Porny School” is, it’s the old timey silhouette with the wig that brings it home. The two together – that is really funny.

  • Saxon Henry

    I know, right? I truly couldn’t believe it, and of course everyone who walked past us howling about the sign and taking pictures of it probably thought “crass Americans”! Can’t wait to take the grand tour of posts for #LetsBlogOff a bit later. Imagine yours will a hoot as always…

  • Saxon Henry

    I thought the same thing! How bizarre the image makes it being so old fashioned!

  • Betsy De Maio

    Just when I thought I had seen it all. Great post! What a riot!!!

  • Saxon Henry

    I know, right? Glad you saw the humor in it!!!! Not everyone here did…

  • cindy frewen wuellner

    All Cleese has to do is laugh… and I’m laughing too! admittedly am suckered by british humor… even Monty Python sounds like high level intelligensia! hope yr enjoying your island time. cindy @urbanverse

  • Saxon Henry

    Thanks, Cindy: I agree. I’ve always loved him. He’s just got such a natural comedic sense about him that no matter what he does it’s good. Thanks for stopping in. I’m still getting to everyone’s posts…