Can we pin it down?
People all over the world laugh, but we don’t all find the same things funny. While some gags might seem universally hilarious (slipping on a banana peel, anyone?), humour normally depends on the cultural norms of a people, their history and shared experiences, as well as what the mechanics of their language allow.
If you’ve ever tried to crack a joke based on a pun or a play on words to a non-native English speaker, and the punchline was followed by deafening silence, you’ll know what we mean.
But is it possible to point to a map and know for sure what will cause some LOLs over there?
Dr Ian Wilkie, a lecturer in performance at the University of Salford, explains: “Having taught younger American students, they take the British sense of humour to be Monty Python, by which they mean a sort-of slightly erring towards the surreal, very iconoclastic in terms of attacking the big targets, very silly.”
However, he says that, while those traits can become shorthand for ‘the British sense of humour’, he doesn’t think “that cuts the mustard.”