This is one of the most interesting but most complicated subjects to transmit. It is often when you try to explain a joke that it loses all its effect. Do you want to make a joke in French? I’ll give you some examples below.
Different types of French jokes
Have you ever tasted these delicious caramels? If so, your dentist must be rich, because it sticks to your teeth. And if not, I suggest you get some, because you won’t only get the caramel… You’ll also get a joke on the inside of the paper when you unwrap the sweet. Carambar jokes are very famous in France, it is especially children who love them and they are passed on from generation to generation. Why is that? Because children love to read the joke inside. Try it yourself:
- Quel est le sport le plus silencieux ? (What is the quietest sport?)
- Le parachuuuuuut ! (Parachuting!)
“Chut” is the sound that French people do when they ask for silence.
- Comment appelle t-on le père et la mère de l’homme invisible ? (What do you call the father and mother of the invisible man?)
- Ses transparents. (His “transparents”)
Yes, you got it, the Carambar jokes aren’t hilarious and are pretty basic. They often play on French words and phrases. If you are inspired, you can also propose some directly on the Carambar website.
Other kinds of French jokes, still quite childish, are Toto’s jokes. Toto is a boy who goes to school, he often talks to the teacher, and he always responds to situations with an ironic repartee. See for yourself:
La maîtresse dit :
– Que celui qui se sent bête se lève.
Et Toto se lève.
– Tu te trouves bête Toto?, demande la maîtresse.
– Non madame, répondit Toto sûr de lui, mais ça me faisait de la peine de vous voir toute seule debout…
The teacher says:
– ” Whoever feels like being stupid, get up.”
And Toto gets up.
– “Do you think you’re stupid, Toto?”, the teacher asks.
– “No, Madam,” replied Toto, sure of himself, “but it made me sad to see you standing all alone…”
La maîtresse demande à Toto :
- Où est ton devoir de maths ?
- Il s’est suicidé, madame.
- Comment ça ?
- Il avait beaucoup de problèmes.
The mistress asked Toto:
- Where is your maths homework?
- He committed suicide, madame.
- What do you mean, he killed himself?
- He had a lot of problems.
Monsieur / Madame
You probably know these jokes in your mother tongue. It’s a pun in the form of “Monsieur et Madame _____ ont un (ou plusieurs) fils/fille, comment s’appellent-ils ?” (“Mr. and Mrs. _____ have a son/daughter, what are their names”). The first names must be said in the right order to form a sentence with the surname.
Here is one that works well:
- Monsieur et Madame Fly ont 3 fils, comment s’appellent-ils ?
- Abel, Yves, Akim ( I believe I can fly , R.Kelly’s song)
The French often make fun of their neighbours, the Belgians. The principle of the Belgian joke is to tell a story with a Belgian in it who is going to make a fool of himself by his ignorance by taking everything that is said to the letter. The story is usually told by imitating the Belgian accent.
- Pourquoi les Belges vont à la messe avec un seau d’eau?
- Pour l’Avé Maria. (pour laver Maria)
Why do Belgians go to mass with a bucket of water?
For the Hail Mary. (to wash Mary)
But the Belgians defend themselves well, and also make similar jokes about the French, where they are either silly or arrogant.
- Combien faut-il de Français pour dévisser une ampoule ?
- Un seul, pour tenir l’ampoule : il croit que le monde tourne autour de lui !
How many Frenchmen does it take to unscrew a light bulb?
Only one, to hold the light bulb: he thinks the world turns around him!
French humour = uncensored humour
If we had to define French humour, I think many would define it as follows: without any limits. Everything is acceptable to make a good pun. The proof, the most listened to radio show in France “Les grosses têtes” is a series of vulgar, sexist, racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic jokes (even if the presenter is homosexual, he is the first to make jokes of this type). They make fun of everything and themselves in order to laugh and make people laugh.
Alas, French humour has come up against the realities of our current world in 2015 with the attack on Charlie Hebdo. But the newspaper has risen again and its front-page headlines are as provocative as ever.
Quand on a en besoin Papa est là…
(When we need him, Daddy’s here…)
Let’s finish with a quick selection:
- J’ai une blague sur les magasins
- Mais elle a pas supermarché
I have a joke about the stores
But it didn’t work very well (marcher = to work / supermarché=stores)
- Pourquoi est-ce qu’on met tous les crocos en prison ?
- Parce que les crocos dealent.
Why are we putting all the crocodiles in jail?
Because crocs deal. (Here the pronunciation is important)
- Pourquoi est-ce que les moutons aiment le chewing-gum?
- Parce que c’est bon pour la laine
Why do sheep like gum?
Because it’s good for the wool. (Wool = la laine / L’haleine = breath)
- Un mathématicien n’urine pas.
- Il fait ∏∏.
A mathematician doesn’t urinate.
He pees. (pipi= twice the Greek letter Pi, same pronunciation in French).
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