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Believe it or not, Germans love to laugh, just not at the same things English-speakers do. Gentle jokes about national stereotypes are beloved as are wordplays, puns, jokes with misdirection or mistakes in logic and absurdist humour—anything but the act of teasing each other, which is the foundation of English-language humour. Though there may be bits that get lost in translation, here are 11 jokes that will get at least a smile in Germany.
— Can a kangaroo jump higher than a house?
— Yes! Because a house can’t jump.
A man goes to the doctor and says, ‘Doctor, I poop every morning at seven. What should I do?’. The doctor tells him not to worry, that most people would love to be that regular.
‘But wait’, the man says, ‘I wake up at 7:30….’
A man says to his waiter, ‘Excuse me sir, this coffee is cold’, to which the waiter replies, ‘Thanks for telling me. I’ll make a note on the bill. Iced coffee is one Euro more’.
— What is the difference between a Turk and a Bavarian?
— The Turkish person can speak better German.
(Bavaria has a very strong dialect that is a sort of middle point between Hochdeutsch and Swiss German.)
A German and an American are building houses. They place a bet on whose house will be finished first. After four weeks, the American announces triumphantly, ‘Only 14 days and I’m finished!’ to which his German friend excitedly replies, ‘Only 14 more forms to fill out and then I can get started?!’
An American, a German and someone from Tyrol (in Austria) are sitting in a ski hut. When the American finishes his glass of Budweiser, he throws it in the air, takes out his revolver and shoots the glass into a thousand pieces before saying, ‘we have so much money in America, we don’t drink from the same glass twice’.
The German orders his glass of Warsteiner, drinks it, throws it in the air, steals the American’s revolver and shoots the glass into a thousand pieces. ‘In Germany’, he says, ‘we have so much money we also don’t need to drink from the same glass twice’.
Not wanting to be left out, the local Tyroler drinks his Gösser, steals the American’s gun, shoots the German and says, ‘In Tyrol, we have so many Germans, we don’t have to drink with the same one twice’.
(The Tyrol region in western Austria is an extremely popular holiday destination for Germans for its skiing and hiking season. There is no real industry in the area aside from tourism.)
Coming from the same realm as ‘Knock, Knock’ jokes, Alle Kinder humour follows a specific structure which can be used to make extremely dark and hilarious jokes.
The basic structure is:
All the children are [doing some activity] except [child’s name] who… [a word that must rhyme with the child’s name].
Example: All the children are playing with knives except for Ted who is now dead.
A German example: Alle Kinder laufen in den Bunker, nur nicht Beate, die fängt die Granate. [All the children run in the bunker, except for Beate, who caught the grenade].
Antiwitze jokes come from the kind of humour that is so absurd, you can’t help but laugh and are what Americans would probably file under the ‘Dad jokes’ category.
First example: Two muffins are next to each other baking in the oven. Suddenly, one of them says, ‘Is it hot in here or is it just me?’ to which the other muffin replies, ‘Oh my god—it’s a talking muffin!’
Second example: Two guys are walking over a bridge. One falls in the water, the other is called Helmut.
This category of jokes makes fun of the sort of old-timey wisdom you might find in a Farmer’s Almanac (Bauernregeln means ‘farmer’s rules’ or weather lore)—something along the lines of ‘April showers bring May flowers’. The point of these jokes is to fit as much filthy nonsense into an otherwise anodyne rhyming couplet.
Nimmt der Ochse ein Kondom, lacht der Kuhstall voller Hohn!
(If the ox were to use a condom, the whole barn would laugh at him.)
Wenn es nachts im Bette kracht, der Bauer seine Erben macht.
(When the bed creaks in the night, the farmer is making his inheritance.)
This one requires some explaining, and even then it isn’t funny. Before you try understanding it yourself, it’s important to know that in most German government and public buildings, the bathrooms are numbered 00:
A man says to his colleague, ‘Hey Stefan, how was your vacation?’ ‘Terrible’, Stefan replies. ‘I stayed in Room 100 and on the first day, the number 1 fell off the door.’
In Germany, the butt of idiot jokes are always people from the East Frisian Islands in the North Sea. Any joke you can think of involving a blonde or a Newfoundlander will work with an Ostfriese.
A classic example:
An East Frisian spaceship captain is addressing his crew. ‘Everybody’, he says proudly, ‘I’m very excited to announce that we are finally ready to embark on our mission to the sun. We will be the first in the world to do it and I can’t wait to show everyone we’re not as dumb as they all say we are.’
‘But wait’, one of the astronauts ventures. ‘Isn’t it too hot?’ The captain rolls his eyes and says, ‘Jörg, it’s questions like that that give us East Frisians a bad reputation. I can assure you, heat will not be a problem. We’re travelling at night.’