• I know I’ve lived in Thailand too long when the first image that comes to mind when I hear the word ‘joke’ is the rice porridge dish that makes for a great breakfast here. You can add a soft boiled egg, green onions, soy sauce, and other bits like ground pork for a sustaining meal.
Neighborhood jok [Chiang Rai, Thailand, 2014]
  • Once I worked with a woman who “didn’t get” Seinfeld the first few times she watched it. My mouth hung open. I probably said something helpful like, “Really? What’s there to get?” She was rightfully embarrassed, but humor is personal, not one size fits all no matter how universal we might think the show or comedian is.
  • Take Jim Gaffigan, for instance. I proudly brought his stand-up specials to my brother’s house, to have my sister-in-law confess that she didn’t think he was that funny. Years later, she wrote back to tell me that she now thought he was hilarious.
  • As a daughter of a Thai immigrant, dealing with not only the language but a cultural divide, humor was our way of bonding. Joking around showed affection even if it was lacking sensitivity or good taste. When I had to wear glasses, my mom immediately called me four-eyes, why she could barely wait until we reached the car after leaving the store.
  • In anthropology class, we learned that language isn’t as straightforward as we might have thought. After all, there is legal speak, medical terminology, real estate/property talk, and scientific jargon. Also, when you’re learning a language you may not understand the subtleties or nuances, particularly humor.
  • I was always proud that my mom understood American humor, until that one day when we were riding the elevator in Bangkok. A couple of men joined us, and suddenly I burst out laughing. One of their t-shirts said, “Sorry ladies, I’m gay.” After we all had a good laugh and had left the lift, I looked at my mom strangely who was also laughing. “Did you understand what the shirt said?” She replied, “a little.”
  • Of course, who doesn’t laugh when other people are laughing. I’ve certainly done it. It’s contagious, and no one wants to look like they don’t get the joke.
  • After my dad passed away, I remember looking through his books. I was only six, but I understood that I was holding an engineering text even though the contents didn’t make sense. One of the discoveries was a big book of jokes. I flipped to the dog eared pages, read the circled or marked passages. I didn’t laugh, but as I looked through the pages, I absorbed the importance of mastering (and appreciating) a memorable story or telling a good joke.
Mom and dad somewhere in Thailand, 1972-3

25 replies on “Discover Prompts: Day 1, Joke

  1. Jook is the word for rice porridge (congee?) in Korean! I think of it more as chicken soup, something to eat when your stomach’s upset or your sick. I liked this post on jokes– is this a prompt series you’re starting?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah, yes, it can be like chicken soup, too, I would imagine. I miss it and should probably make my own version of it when I get my hands on some green onions and cilantro.

      No, the prompt is from WP. I should link to it: https://wordpress.com/discover-wordpress/2020/03/31/discover-writing-prompts/

      It seemed like a good idea since my writing class is over, and a nice way to meet new blogging folks. Plus, I don’t think there’s any pressure to do it everyday. Care to join?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a cute photo of your parents!

    Congee makes a nice breakfast. When I’m tired of oatmeal or smoothies, I bring out the rice porridge.

    I like Seinfeld’s jokes in a book, but I’ve never been fond of the show. I don’t like his delivery. On the other hand, I laughed at your mom not being able to wait until you got in the car before calling you four-eyes. I don’t know why that made me laugh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Because you’re cruel, Nicki, that’s why you laughed. Hahahahhaa. Just kidding. I’m glad you got a chuckle.

      Yes, I love that photo. I think I ask my mom for it and never gave it back. 😛

      When I watched Seinfeld he was actually my least favorite character, but I like him much more now that I’m older.

      Thanks for stopping by. And hey, do you want to join the WP writing prompts? https://wordpress.com/discover-wordpress/2020/03/31/discover-writing-prompts/

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is great. Your musings on humour are really interesting! I have not watched Seinfeld I admit but have seen bits of ‘Curb your Enthusiasm’ and like it. I have found some American humour far surpasses much British stuff – ‘Frasier’ for instance was sheer genius.
    Personally I am completely bemused by the success of The Office. It is far too close to reality to be funny – these idiots really do exist and makes it excruciating to watch.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Curb is an awesome show. I laugh so hard I cry during it.

      That’s funny what you said about American humor vs British. I feel the opposite! I love watching, as I’ve told you, British game shows like Taskmaster and WILTY. Fraiser was good, too, very dry.

      I found the British Office to be TOO REAL AND PAINFUL, but the American office to be less so. Therefore, it was easier to watch, one of my most favorite TV shows of all time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Game and panel shows, yes, I agree. Have you ever watched any of Graham Norton’s talk show? He gets real A list hollywood stars but the show is hilarious. Lots of clips on youtube.
        I have heard the US office is less painful so might try to catch it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Of course. Graham and I go way back 😉 As an American, I was taken aback by the idea of someone enjoying an alcoholic beverage on a talk show. I thought, ohhh, they do things differently over there, don’t they?

        Liked by 1 person

  4. That is a beautiful picture of your parents:) You are right about humour, it’s very cultural. I remember being with a group of Jordanians and hearing a joke about nepotism. I found it really funny. The rest of the group were completely stone faced.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Okay, that yok looks like a joke to me breakfast wise because I like it sweet but it would be perfect for lunch. 😀 I’ve never watched Seinfeld but I bet I’d laugh my head off. 😉 Germans aren’t famous for their humour (though we do have it and also quite good comedians) but I’ve always preferred British humour – so dry you could die of thirst! 😁 The only American comedyseries I can think of and totally loved was Parks and Recreation – I thought it was totally brilliant! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah yes, I started to get into that show, but then I lost interest which is horrible because I know that it gets so much better. It’s actually really hard for me to get into a series. I don’t know why.

      I love British humor as well. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Not an American, so not sure of the shows you mentioned but yes, the personal touch to it was worth a read. Nice one!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What great memories and examples to show how personal jokes are, the value determined by our perspective. It’s interesting how laughter can be a kind of social currency, a way that we fit in (or not)!

    Liked by 1 person

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