Egyptian Sense of Humor:
A Statement of Sharing and Sharp Wit
Jokes, light comments and smart replies are many facets of the Egyptian sense of humor, which, in Egypt, is a way of life.
Egyptians laugh at many things. The contradictions of daily life provide them with plenty of material. Every region may also have a unique taste of humor, so what you hear in Cairo would be different from that in Luxor or Alexandria. But all Egyptian jokes aim at one thing only: a smile on the face of the receiver. A laugh is a bonus.
It is not uncommon to see groups of seasoned tourists at coffee shops exchanging jokes with local Egyptians. The subjects range from the ridiculous to the intellectual. Everyone genuinely laughs, sometimes at something completely unrelated to the joke itself. The funny pronunciation, the misunderstanding, even the glances, can provide a background to suit the mood of the conversation.
If you miss a joke, don't worry asking for an explanation and ruin the momentum. There should be plenty of other jokes to follow. Some jokes, of course, can not be translated and these are exchanged between Egyptians, or indeed amongst the tourists themselves. Certain aspects fall beyond the humor, though. Practical jokes are rare and not readily appreciated by the majority of Egyptians. Also, religion is respected at all times, and that includes all faiths. Egyptians are not keen on racial jokes, regarding most of them as tasteless.
Political jokes are told in private and sex jokes are widely spread amongst young people. Jokes are tuned to a fine art. Most of the fun is in the way they are told. So, writing about the Egyptian sense of humor is not as funny.
The jokes and funny stories provide light entertainment to all classes of people, enliven their evenings and remove some of the hardships of long working days. The best jokes are the simplest and the spontaneous. Long articulated jokes are common only amongst professional groups and relate mostly to their profession or to actual events.
One such joke told by journalists (some say it is an actual story) is the obituary which came in very late one night to be published the following morning. The editor was tired and in a hurry to get home, so he wrote a note on it saying "only if there is a space for it". There was.
The following morning the obituary was published that Mr. xx died recently.. may God let him into paradise.. only if there is a space for him!!"
Doctors have similar stories about patients who speak on behalf of their wives and then, as the doctor said, take the pill regularly, then come back complaining that their wives are pregnant again!
The simple jokes, however, are more common and widely used. Although it is impossible to do Egyptian humor justice by just telling a few examples, I am sure that will be better than going on further with more narration. There are those about the village idiot:
A tourist asks
- Can you tell the quickest way to town please?
-Are you walking or driving?
- That IS the quickest way!
Three people had arranged marriages
One said :"I have luck, my wife is very good at everything".
The second said :"I am miserable mine is awful"
The third one (the idiot) keeps quiet, so they ask him:
How about you?
He said :"I don't really know. some people tell me she is very good, others say she is lousy!".
Shortage of money is always a joke.
A man asks a shop assistant :"how much is that suit?".
- " LE 300, sir and we give a shirt free with it"
- "In this case can I buy the shirt only please?!"
One poor man to another:
-"Do you have any skills?"
-"Of course I have. I once sold furniture. The trouble is, it was my own".
Other jokes relate to witty replies:
A man asks his grandmother:
- Would you rather have some jelly and ice cream, or get married?
She replies: "I haven't really got the teeth for jelly and ice cream!"
. A man walked into a supermarket and demanded half a head of lettuce. A boy working there told him that he has to buy the whole lettuce, but the man insists on half a lettuce. The boy went to the manager at the back of the shop and said
- A stupid man out there wants half a lettuce.. then realizing that the man is right behind him, added :..
"and this gentleman here wants to buy the other half!.
- A man who sells kebab got married. On his wedding night he found his bed sprinkled with parsley! - One kid to another :"Everybody stands up for my father at work".
- What does your father do?
- He is a judge.
- So what. People bow their heads to my dad at work, including your dad!
- Wow, what does he do?
- He is a barber. and finally, a boy was much in love with a girl who worked as a nurse. He could not help but go to the hospital to see her. He met the matron and
- May I see nurse Samira please?
- And who are you?
- I am her brother.
- I am very pleased to meet you. I am her MOTHER!