Shampoo is not funny . . .

In Uncategorized on July 17, 2010 at 12:20 am

The thing I miss the most from the US is humor.  Humor is everywhere in the States, in Asia, not so much.

During an hour of television, instead of going to the fridge for a delicious ice-cold glass of water, watch the commercials.  Almost every single one will have some type of irony, joke, or cheesiness as its centerpiece.  It could be an ad for breakfast cereal, guards to keep the leaves out of your gutters, or maybe even natural male enhancement.  You may not personally find any of these things funny or useful, but the purpose of the vast majority of advertisements is to entertain.  Just look at the Superbowl. 

In Singapore/Asia, the purpose of the ad is to inform.  ‘Didn’t get that promotion, use this shampoo and your ugly damaged hair will be soft and shiny.’  ‘Wear this watch and you’ll look cooler than your loser friends.’   ‘After your son goes to school 9 hours a day for 11 months a year and he gets home from piano and fencing lessons, send him to our math tutor service and he will grow up to be successful.’ 

Although ads on both sides of the Pacific are for products or services to better some important or pointless aspect of your life,  US advertisers use smiles to grab your wallet while you’re not looking.  Asian advertisers, use guilt to make your hand your cash over willingly.  Americans will blindly drink themselves silly in hopes of being like Spuds MacKenzie hanging out with the Swedish Bikini Team.  Asians listen to a guy pretending to be a dentist, telling them their breath stinks and they shouldn’t offend others on the subway.

It’s not just the television humor that I miss.  Laughter is everywhere in the US, be it at work, home, or school.  You can joke around with your friends, your boss, or the polite happy lady, diligently working behind the counter at Lowe’s who can’t get you a new tank of propane without paging the manager four times.  Maybe it’s America’s eternal optimism that keeps us happy, or perhaps our ability to always want to see the brighter side of life, or it could be a deep dark spitefullness that makes us mock others when they fail miserably because they lack talent and determination, or we could just be dumb.  Take your pick. 

Regardless, there is very little humor over here.  Try and quote Animal House, Old School, or the Hangover in a group of Asians or Europeans.  Even if they’ve seen the movie (doubtful), they would never understand why you would inject random lines from a twenty year old movie into a current conversation.  It’s almost a sport in America to see who can spout off the most random movie quote and slide it seamlessly into a conversation.   Just try to play a single round of golf without making or hearing a reference to Caddyshack or Happy Gilmore.

Even if we make the assumption ‘pop culture’ is something you have to be ‘local’ to understand, you’d think you’d still see Asians making other Asians laugh and Germans making other Germans laugh.  Instead, over here, it’s as if everyone carefully considers every word before they say it.  Or perhaps, if they do laugh, it is in the privacy of their own homes with their family and how fun is that?  You could argue this verbal openness is why most of the world thinks Americans are idiots.  I would say it makes us the only ones who are honest.

You would end up in jail if you tried this in Singapore:  http://www.armchaircommentary.com/2010/07/star-wars-on-a-subway-love-it.html

I do need to add, there are other cultures that value humor.  I’ve been spending a lot of time with Australians lately, both playing cricket and golf.  Those guys are pretty darn funny.  They enjoy throwing each other under the bus, backing the bus up, and running you over again – just like we do in the States.  The only difference is, the rest of the world likes Australia.  Somehow they get some magical, kangaroo induced free pass.  Maybe if we had kangaroos, the rest of the world would like us too.   Think about it.

  1. Everyone hates Americans more than Australians because we have clothes dryers and they don’t. Trust me. Clothes dryers are the key thing.

    P.S. Everyone in Singapore would hate me. Except Australians. And that’s because I hang all my clothes in the bathroom to dry. It’s true.

  2. I think it’s Nascar that did us in. We would have stayed cool to the rest of the world if it wasn’t for Nascar becoming popular. Trust me, Andy and I just spent the afternoon at a Kroger looking at Nascar cars for Alex’s amusement, and the people there are completely responsible for the downfall of America’s world dominance. (I will probably feel really bad about writing this tomorrow after a few glasses of wine have worn off, but for now, I feel pretty strongly about it.)

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