European stereotypes and jokes

Just a short and light post pointing you to this article on the BBC News site in which Stephen Mulvey talks about how the EU is trying to seduce its voters and why that is necessary:

Europe has been searching for years for something to inspire a new generation of citizens – a generation unimpressed by 60 years of peace and the ending of the continents’ Cold War divisions.

The piece itself is well worth a read, but what I really liked were the European jokes in the comments to the article. One example, from commenter Robert Fromow:

A prize was to be awarded for the first person to discover a horse with black and white stripes like a zebra. A German, a Frenchman, an Englishman and a Spaniard participated hoping to win the prize of 1,000,000 euros. The German decided to spend weeks in the National library researching into horses with black and white stripes. The Englishman went straight to a shop in Piccadilly which specialises in hunting gear, bought all the equipment necessary and set off for Africa in his quest for this strange creature. The Frenchman bought himself a horse and painted it black and white . The Spaniard went to the best restaurant he knew in Madrid, ordered an expensive meal for himself with a fine bottle of wine; after the meal he ordered an expensive Havana cigar and a Napoleon brandy, sat in a luxurious arm-chair in the hotel and began to consider what he would do with the 1,000,000 euros once he had found this remarkable horse with black and whte stripes. Robert Fromow, Beaconsfield UK

Go and have a laugh. And, if you know of any decent European jokes yourself, please feel free to submit them in our comments section.

This entry was posted in A Fistful Of Euros, The European Union and tagged , by Guy La Roche. Bookmark the permalink.

About Guy La Roche

Dutch translator and subtitler living in Brittany with his three cats. Has also lived in the Flemish part of Belgium. Speaks English rather fluently and in a former life used to have a decent command of Spanish. Knows swear words in German and Russian. Not quite francophone yet, but slowly getting there. Vaguely centrist observer of the world around him, extremely naive and, sometimes, rather proud of it. Writes Venale Pecus.

14 thoughts on “European stereotypes and jokes

  1. Yes, I know this is an old joke, but it’s still worth a laugh or two:

    In heaven, the police are British,
    The cooks are French,
    The engineers are German
    The administrators are Swiss
    And the lovers Italian.

    In hell, the police are German
    The cooks are British
    The engineers are Italian
    The administrators are French
    And the lovers Swiss.

  2. Not really a joke, but The Simpson once referred to the French as “cheese-eating surrender monkeys.” It has kind of stuck here in The States.

  3. In Greece I heard the following addition to the heaven/hell joke:

    In heaven the party is organised by the Greeks

    In hell, the government (or business or anything non-entertaining) is organised by the Greeks.

    The only exception seemed to be the Olympic Games, but then that was probably classed as entertainment, and it was touch and go.

    I would like to know why no new EU members are included in these jokes.

  4. I guess we need to wait for the national stereotypes of the new member states to spread west. At present I don’t imagine a joke about the stinginess of a Latvian (just an example!) would raise a smile — merely the question, “Are Latvians particularly stingy?”

  5. You don’t hear Irish jokes anymore, which is mostly a good thing. But it means there’s an unused fund of thigh-slappingly funny material going to waste. So lets welcome the new members by copying the yanks:
    Glen: How many Polacks it take to screw in a lightbulb?
    H.I.: I don’t know, Glen. One?
    Glen: Nope, it takes three.
    [Glen laughs. H.I. doesn't]
    Glen: Wait a minute, I told it wrong. Here, I’m startin’ over: How come it takes three Polacks to screw up a lightbulb?
    H.I.: I don’t know, Glen.
    Glen: ‘Cause they’re so darn stupid!
    [Glen laughs again. H.I. doesn't]
    Glen: Shit, man, loosen up! Don’t ya get it?
    H.I.: No, Glen, I sure don’t.
    Glen: Shit, man, think about it! I guess it’s what they call a “way homer.”
    H.I.: Why’s that?
    Glen: ‘Cause you only get it on the way home.
    H.I.: I’m already home, Glen.
    Either that or we could stick with what we know:
    How many Germans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
    One. Most efficient.

  6. A French joke about Belgians that I saw in an Irish newspaper (none of which makes it any better):

    A Belgian family wants to take their car with them on holiday in England, but their little girl is prone to seasickness, so they decide to make the shortest possible crossing, from Calais.

    So they all pile into the car, and they drive, and they drive and they drive until eventually they see a sign saying “Pas de Calais”. So they shrug their shoulders in despair and go home.

  7. “So they all pile into the car, and they drive, and they drive and they drive until eventually they see a sign saying “Pas de Calais”. So they shrug their shoulders in despair and go home.”

    LOL! I did not know that one yet.

  8. Okay, this one’s not really European, but it’s close. It used to be a favourite of my father’s:

    An American travels to Spain, and after seeing the sights, he decides to see the “real” Spain, to get off the beaten track and be a real adventurer. So, he goes to some dusty provincial village with only one hotel, one restaurant and a bullfighting ring. After checking in, he walks over to the restaurant to get some dinner. Unfortunately, the man speaks no Spanish, and the waiter only the most rudimentary English. Confusion ensues with the menu, and finally the American just says “Bring me the special!”

    A little later, a plate arrives with what appears to be two very large meatballs and some garnishes. The man doesn’t recognize them, but he figures that he’s on an adventure, so he digs in. And, he likes his dinner quite a lot, but can’t quite identify the kind of meat. So, on finishing, he calls the waiter over and, speaking slowly and loudly, in the customary fashion of those travelling beyond their linguistic abilities, asks what he just ate. The waiter explains: “Is, uh – ¿como se dice? – da tentacles of da koo… No, da tes-tee-cos – testicles! Yes, testicles of da bool from da bool fight today.”

    The American’s first reaction is disgust, but after thinking about it for a moment, he concludes that if you eat some of the meat from cattle, you can’t really start complaining about eating the other parts. Besides, it tasted good!

    So the next day, the American tourist returns to the same restaurant and tells the waiter to bring him the same thing as he had eaten the day before. Only this time, the balls of meat are much, much smaller. Confused, the American calls the waiter over to explain. And the waiter says, “Well, you know, da bool in da bool fight, you see, ‘e not always lose.”

  9. “And the waiter says, “Well, you know, da bool in da bool fight, you see, ‘e not always lose.”

    Gross, LOL!

  10. Some more stereotypes:

    A happy man has
    an american pay-check
    a british mansion
    a japanese wife and
    a chinese cook

    An unhappy man has
    a chinese pay-check
    a british cook
    a japanese house and
    an american wife

  11. Helmut Kohl visits an aquarium. There, he spies a man leaning over the shark tank, with two fingers dangling in the water. As he gets closer, he realises that the shark is swimming in a figure of eight pattern, around the fingers, again and again.

    He says to the man, “how can you be so sure it won’t bite your arm off?”

    He replies, “I’ve hypnotised it.”

    “Hynoptised the shark? How on earth do you hypnotise a fish?”

    “Well, it’s simple when you know how, Herr Bundeskanzler. Let me explain.” He removes the fingers from the water and releases the shark from its trance. The monster fish lashes the water furiously. Where did the meat go? After it’s calmed down, the hypnotist invites Kohl to stick his fingers in the tank. He does so, gingerly.

    “Now, you must concentrate on the fish. It’s all about producing the right electrical field. Usually this is unconscious, but biofeedback research has shown it’s possible to control it..”

    And Kohl concentrates…minutes go by…

    and then, his eyes blink slowly, his cheeks bulge, his mouth begins to open and close rhythmically, and his arms begin to make slow swimming movements..

  12. A conversation between a Japanese and a Bulgarian. The Japanese:

    - I work 3 hours per day for myself, 3 hours per day – for the Emperor and 3 more hours – for Japan.

    The Bulgarian:

    - I work 3 hours for myself, Emperor – we don’t have, and why the hell do I have to work for Japan?!

  13. A conversation between a Japanese and a Bulgarian.

    The Japanese:

    - I work 3 hours per day for myself, 3 hours per day – for the Emperor and 3 more hours – for Japan.

    The Bulgarian:

    - I work 3 hours for myself, Emperor – we don’t have, and why the hell do I have to work for Japan?!

  14. It’s an old joke about a country that doesnt exist any more, but I like it.

    East German President Ulbricht wanted to know what the people really thought of him, so he lost his security detail, changed into anonymous workingmans clothes and struck up a conversation with a random worker in a coffee house.

    After a while, he casually asked his new friend what he thought of Walter Ulbricht.

    His friend puts a finger to his lips, and takes him onto a East Berlin bus, then onto a train to Leipzig, changes trains with Ulbricht at an anonymous country town, then takes a bus with him to a lonely spot on the Polish border, and then walks with him several miles into the forest.

    He then turns around, looks for security agents and whispers ‘Actually, I dont mind him at all’.