Roger Boyes, the London Times correspondent in Berlin, has written a book called “My dear Krauts”. The article about it on Spiegel Online suggests that he is a British man on a mission:
“I see myself as a development aid worker on German humor. Basically the Germans need all the help they can get. And I’ve decided to do my bit. It’s not that they can’t be funny. In fact they like a good laugh. It’s just that they’re a bit slower on the uptake than the rest of the world. And they don’t understand irony.”
That explains it. It’s because of my German heritage that I am slow on the uptake. For example, I never understood why my (Canadian) wife and our wedding caterer found my request for potatoes so terribly funny. Not to mention that they found it even funnier when I got mad about their reaction. All I wanted was to have potatoes added to the wedding menu. My wife still giggles when she talks about my email to the caterer which is now referred to as the “ode to the potato” in our household. It wasn’t funny! But maybe I would have seen the light with Mr. Boyes’ humour training for Germans:
“[Germans] need to spend 10 minutes in front of the mirror every day and keep saying: ‘I’m funny’. Then they need to grin and laugh out loud for two minutes. It might help. But I’m not optimistic.”
Why so doubtful? I like it! Physiotherapy for my Teutonic funny bone. Where were you when I needed you in my wedding preparations years ago, Mr. Boyes? This book is a must-read for any serious German. It’s on my Christmas wish list…
I don’t know if it is available in English, I could only find the German version on Amazon. But Spiegel Online has posted an English excerpt from the book on its site, where he “recalls a painfully funny ‘reconciliation’ tour of Germany with his father, an RAF bomber pilot in World War II”. Whatever happened to “don’t mention the War“?