Australian sense of humour

(VOVWORLD) - A sense of humour has always played an important role in human life. As the world developed, man’s sense of humour developed itself in different ways in different culture. Australia certainly has developed its own way of provoking smiles. Today we’ll talk to Taylor Harper, an Australian student about Australian humor.

Hello, Taylor. Thanks for joining us today on VOV’s Culture Rendezvous. What’s the very first thing we should know about the Australian sense of humour?

 Australian humour has a long history that can be traced back to our origins as convict colonies. It is therefore no surprise that a national sense of humour quickly developed that responded to those conditions. Our humour is dry, full of extremes, anti-authoritarian, self-mocking and ironic.

We heard the expression “no worries” a lot. Is that a signature of your country?

 It is. This is funny but true. So, the biggest thing you need to know is the fact that the country itself, is the ultimate joke. There is a famous saying about Australia that you can be killed by thousands of thing  that you can never think of. For example, a beautiful day, you decide to go out to the beach and surf some waves. But the wave you body surf into could contain a shark or a rip-tide and, when you get back home, your house could have been burnt to the ground in a bush fire. That's where the whole 'no worries' thing comes from. The worst may not happen to you yet, so don’t worry.

Australian sense of humour - ảnh 1


That sounds horrifying. It sounds like I need someone to punch me in the face if I ever propose to spend my holiday in Australia. But tell us more about humour in your country.

 Okay. The first characteristic of our sense of humour is very  black. In many cultures, it is considered poor taste to find humour in difficult circumstances,. But Australians always look for this brighter side. This is perhaps our strongest reference to our brutal past, where humour was a means of coping with a bad situation. An example of this is the naming of a swimming pool in Melbourne.  In 1967, Harold Holt, Prime Minister, disappeared whilst swimming in the ocean. He was also a  municipal council member of Melbourne city. I don’t know whether they did it on purpose or not, but, eventually, a swimming complex in Melbourne was named after him. And then we have the Harold Holt Memorial Swimming Pool in Melbourne. That’s so crazy.

Australian sense of humour - ảnh 2Harold Holt Memorial Swimming Pool 

I don’t believe it. That would be considered extremely rude and unacceptable in Vietnam.

 But that’s us. That’s Australia.

Please tell us more. This is fascinating

 Another thing is that we have a strong anti-authoritarian humour, again, a reflection of our past. This aspect has been in evidence since colonial times where the ability to make a policeman or a judge laugh often meant the difference between the prison or harsh labour and freedom. I know a case. A convict, named Billy Blue, who arrived in Sydney after stealing a small amount of sugar, was notorious among officials for his creative and humourous explanations of his law-breaking. But that talent actually kept him from being locked up on so many occasions. There is one time, he got caught smuggling alcohol. And his explanation was that he just kept finding liquor floating in Sydney Harbour and had been caught before he could report this to the authorities. The authorities 'believed' this explanation and Billy was free to continue his adventures. Billy Blue later went on to become friends with Governor Macquarie.

A: No way. How could he get away with that? How could that be possible?

 B: I don’t know. Crazy. But it’s true.

A: I know one thing about your sense of humour. This may be seen in other cultures but I think it is most characteristic in your country: it’s self-deprecating. Right?

 B: Correct. Australians also have a strong tradition of targeting themselves as objects of humour. A regular on the stand-up circuit is comedian Steady Eddy, who has cerebral palsy and uses his disability as material for his routines. One of his gags talks about how hard it is for him to find love – whenever he sees a beautiful woman, he finds himself wishing ' if only she had a limp'.

Australian sense of humour - ảnh 3Steady Eddy

A: I’ve heard the word “wogs”. Is it related to your way of making fun?

 B: Yeah, Australians from ethnic backgrounds also use this type of humour very effectively. That word is used when people whose parents are from Greek, Lebanese or Italian background calls themselves. Performers also mock their ethnic backgrounds and traditions.

I think ethnic  jokes are popular only at an informal level. Am I right?

 Actually, self-mocking is also common on a national level.

Australian sense of humour - ảnh 4

Really? Do you have an example of this?

 There was one time, during the opening of the Sydney Olympics, an obviously drunk Governor General pronounced "Sa-sa-Sydney" and then knocked over the microphone. It was a shameful performance that would have had most countries scared that they world would think they are being led by a clumsy clown! But, most Australians just found it funny, and even speculated that if he got sacked for being pissed on the job, he may have a career as a rap singer to fall back on. 

Please spare me!

 Yes! It’s crazy I know. But that’s just us. That’s the way we do. In a harsh country where the desert meets the ocean, you will need more than usual to survive I suppose.

Australian sense of humour - ảnh 5 Yeah the desert is very sandy, and big....

 You’ve changed the way I see Australia. I begin to understand why Melbourne is rated the most livable city in the world. Thank you for sharing facts about the Australian sense of humour. I really do hope that I’ll get a chance to visit your extraordinary country.

 You are very much welcomed. See you some day.