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Korean vs Western Humor

January 3, 2013

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It’s our first TL;DR in our new studio! We’re not exactly sure where we’re gonna film our TL;DRs, since we’re still waiting for furniture to come in, but we found this angle and thought it looked rather cute, so we decided to film there!

Anyhow, enough about the studio, which we’ll show (we promise) once we’ve fully designed it and put in the rest of the furniture; more about this week’s topic, which seems to be asked every single week. This week it got a ridiculous amount of thumbs up, though, so we thought we’d finally tackle it.

Now, it’s not a topic that we’re really fully comfortable in talking about, because humor is a deeply cultural thing, and it has many aspects that can only be appreciated by those in the know. So I’m sure that Korean people watching this video and reading this post can definitely add to this discussion, and I hope they will!

We did talk to one of our staff members who’s Korean, though (yes! We have A staff member now! Just four more until we can hire foreigners!) and she was telling us a bit more about Korean humor. While a lot of the humor we’re used to is primarily verbal humor, like bad puns or sarcasm/irony, she was telling us that Korean humor is mostly physical humor. There are SOME cases of verbal jokes, but it’s not really that popular, supposedly.

In fact, we were eating out the other day when Gag Concert was on, and we saw a guy covering an orange in wasabi sauce, so much so that it looked like the orange was a muffin and the wasabi sauce was put on like frosting. And then he dipped it in Soy Sauce. We asked her, with a very open mind, what the eff was going on. Supposedly this guy was very famous for doing bad stuff to himself, like drinking soy sauce (BEUGGRRGHH just dry-heaved at the thought of it) and this was another example of something he was about to do. Not really the best programming for a restaurant, I’d say, but we found it interesting, because I don’t really think that’d be too popular back where we’re from, no?

Anyhow, one of the things we think about is our videos and our style of humor. How well does it translate into Korean? We don’t have a big audience in Korea: over 90% of our audience is OUTSIDE of Korea. We figure it’s the language barrier, but probably also the humor isn’t the same, you know? Our Korean staffer also told us about Kang Ho Dong supposedly making a joke about IU and Eunhyuk, which we found to be bloody hilarious, but it didn’t go over well with fans who were furious, or something? I’m not sure. If that’s the case, then we gotta ask ourselves: how is it we haven’t been stabbed by anyone in Korea yet? Ha!

Anyhow, we’ve asked a lot more questions than we’ve answered. The big one is to whether humor has a universal style, or whether different approaches to humor are needed for different cultures. British humor, by the way, is sooooOOOOoooOOO beyond me. I know it should be funny. I just don’t know why.

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Korean vs Western Humor

148 COMMENTS

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  1. this blog posts translated korean humor http://gurumujica.blogspot.kr/

    2 years ago
  2. Hi Martina and Simon! Just discovered your channel/blog about a year ago, first time posting. Love love love you guys!

    Being from a multicultural background myself, I understand how humor doesn’t translate well at all. I’ve also found that ghosts, monsters, horror stories or urban legends don’t translate well either. In short, my Asian friends/family find Western monsters/ghosts to be kind of ridiculous, and vice versa. What has your experience been? Are there Korean monsters or ghost stories that you find funny rather than scary?

    3 years ago
  3. i have another question were do u get korean fashion?

    4 years ago
  4. Kay

    Lol. Dave Chappelle. He’s hilarious. I only live around an hour from his home in Yellow Springs.

    4 years ago
  5. Can you talk about Block B and whats going on with them and there company? PLEASE

    4 years ago
  6. For the next TLDR can you guys teach us some basic Korean words?

    4 years ago
  7. Here’s a really good article explaining the whole deal: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2012/12/07/gangnam-nationalism-why-psys-anti-american-rap-shouldnt-surprise-you/ The article is “Gangnam Nationalism: Why Psy’s anti-American rap shouldn’t surprise you” by Max Fisher on The Washington Post’s site. Personally, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong about comments or actions criticizing a country or government. In fact, people should criticize governments! However, the lyrics “Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law, and fathers / Kill them all slowly and painfully” are appalling and inappropriate no matter who the “their” refers to. I believe it’s shameful that N.EX.T. wrote and that Psy performed a song advocating the killing of innocent relatives of those they feel are not so innocent.

    4 years ago
  8. Oh man, with all the end of t he year kerfuffle I hadn’t been able to catch up with your videos! I didn’t realize how much I missed you guys! My lips almost cracked when I saw you guys had uploaded this TL;DR (smiles!) <3. I love Gag Concert, but I do find some of the skits overly exaggerated sometimes, but like you guys said, there are cultural differences that define humor too. My most favorite skits right now are 'Brave Guys', 'Discoveries of Life' and 'Four Men' – there is so much epicness on that show. I tried watching SNL Korea, but I didn't get their humor at all O_o – Hell, I dont even like the American version. My favorite all time show is Running Man!! – I hope they never cancel that show xD

    Thanks for making my day! <3

    4 years ago
  9. Martina, I really love your hair in this video!

    4 years ago
  10. that was amazingly epic! but they are so naughty naughty….:)

    4 years ago
  11. Kudos to you for liking Dave. So funny! =D

    And Yes, the ending was In Living Color Jim Carry’s character and he was the volunteer fireman. =]

    4 years ago
  12. Lol half way through, I realized this was a looong tl;dr. xD But so much sense! Marathoning Running Man atm and you reminded me of Jae Suk’s reaction to eating hot stuff… >_<

    4 years ago
  13. As someone who watched a lot of In Living Color I can appreciate the Fire Marshall Bill reference… I still use the expression “Homey don’t play that” from the homey the clown skits.

    4 years ago
  14. well they did find a unicorn’s nest in NK recently….

    4 years ago
  15. I wanted to know what opinion you both have on Block B’s injunction against their company, Stardom. Especially since you have interviewed Block B previously, I really want your take on this controversy, since I feel you both to be a bit more impartial and with a bit more insight than us BBCs. Honestly, our fandom is taking the news a bit hard.

    4 years ago
  16. I believe they are snow apes.

    4 years ago
  17. Question for next TLDR- I know that when Martina sprained her ankle, you
    went to the hospital for that, but what do you do in Korea when you
    need other medical related tests/checkups/etc done? Do you go for
    checkups, eye exams, dental cleanings, etc in Korea, or do you do that
    when you go to Canada to visit? Are there a lot of English speaking
    medical facilities and is medical insurance an issue? Thank you. :)

    4 years ago
  18. “how is it we haven’t been stabbed by anyone in Korea yet? Ha!” Don’t say that!! Not even in a jokingly manner!! > . . <)

    I appreciate your hard work!

    <3<3<3<3

    P.S: love your background! :3
    P.S.s: don't know who Fire Marshall Bill is – . -''

    4 years ago
  19. I’d like to as a silly question…What does “TL; DR” means?

    4 years ago
  20. They should review these dance people who do covers of kpop songs but only dancing and there freaking amazing. The dance group i believe is st.317 something like that and they did a cover of shinees Sherlock and i felt it matched the song. —Mabye the could use this as a next TL DR or WTF or music Mondays or something??

    4 years ago
  21. I always find you funny, guise!..guise?..okay..YAAAY Doctor Who!! Did you guise watch the Christmas Special this year? :D :D

    4 years ago
  22. OMG! The no sarcasm while talking will be hard for me. I’m the epitome of being sarcastic. I use sarcasm in nearly everything I say when talking to people. But only in a joking way. And I do ALOT of over acting in things I do as well.

    4 years ago
  23. what do Korean guys think about foreign girls? I’d heard that majority of Koreans prefer to marry other Koreans and that there is a problem with multicultural families??

    4 years ago
  24. Korean humor can take some getting used to. At first, I’d read the subs and hear the uproarious laughter and ask WTH because I didn’t get it.
    Now I just smile and nod and laugh at appropriate times.

    4 years ago
  25. “You’re funny looking”
    HAHAHHAH XD

    4 years ago
  26. I’ve seen this game a lot in dramas, it’s called Yaja Time I think.
    Everyone’s given a free pass to speak to each other in “banmal”, i.e
    without honorifics, or the formal language they usually use (“jeondae”).
    The use of formal and informal language seems to be no joke in Korean,
    you’ll only use banmal with people you’re really close to or people
    younger/”beneath” you, tjat’s why it’s actually funny to hear Go-eun
    speaking down to Anthony, or Anthony speaking to Director Goo like he’s
    speking to a kid. It’s unusual and a bit akward, and it takes a little
    jab to the pride of the one who’s speaken down to, in a funny way.
    Once
    you can tell the difference between jondae and banmal and are aware of
    when it should be used, the switch between both can be heard pretty
    easily, and you can get the menaning behind it as well. And you don’t
    even have to understand Korean! (I don’t!)

    4 years ago
  27. From what other have said I believe it is the language barrier and the fact that the subtitle team that is working on Running Man makes sure to put in all the cultural references and make far more of a concerted effort to make sure the jokes are understood. Therefore it is more accessible.

    4 years ago
  28. This is one of the things I like most about being British. It’s easier to knock out someone who is 20 pounds lighter than you as opposed to someone 20 pounds heavier. I like to think of British humor as among the heavyweights of world humor, North American is closer to lightweight and from my experiences living there I would say Korean humor is more flyweight. This is not ranked in terms of most funny but in terms of most accessible.

    British humor is darker, more awkward, offensive and self deprecating. There are very few taboo subjects as long as the joke is funny enough; there may be a little controversy but most people just appreciate the joke. In comparison North American humor is much cleaner, less edgy and more straightforward . Korean humor is much much much less abrasive, offensive and nowhere near as dark. Much lighter and easy to understand why it may qualify as funny even if you don’t find it to be so.

    4 years ago
  29. I’m a korean citizen, but I live in usa. my parents watch dramas and variety shows all the time, and they laugh so.hard. I mean, I can hear their laughter from the other side of the house. I think that they’r pretty funny.

    4 years ago
  30. Nooo, sarcasm can totally be funny! Like, sometimes when someone is playing the straightman they’ll use it, so if two of your friends are sticking straws up their noses and pretending to be walruses and you go “WOW, that’s REAL mature” and then laugh immediately afterwards it’s not at all mean. It’s just…banter.

    4 years ago
  31. Just a note about the insulting style humour, that is definitely really prevalent where I live. For instance, 5 of my closest friends are 5ft10 and over, and they constantly give me a ribbing for being 5ft2, but it’s really affectionate. Jonny will ask if I want stilts when I go to a concert, or Alex says “That’s cute, is it from the kid’s section?” XDXD. For me, it’s just a joke, and I enjoy having a banter with them like that, but how well would that translate into other cultures do you think? Would people get offended?

    4 years ago
  32. hahaha, I laughed so hard when I saw that comment about British humour, since I’m English :D It’s odd though, because before I met some North Americans I’d never even heard of the concept: “What? Our jokes are strange? Really?!”. I was so surprised. But now, I guess we do seem to have “inside jokes” as a country, but I don’t think it’s an English/Scottish/Irish/Welsh thing – I’m pretty sure every country does it. It makes me proud in a weird way though. Like, for instance, this morning my mum told me “Come straight home, do not pass go, do not collect £200”. To a non-english person that might seem bonkers, but I got the monopoly reference XD Anyone else got idiosyncratic jokes to share?

    4 years ago
  33. I kinda get the korean, or asian if you will, humour. Although they also do a lot of language jokes. If you are lucky the translator will tell you why they started the canned laughter, but usually you have to pause the video to read it and then be like “oh okay”. That is stuff you don’t really understand unless you understand the language well enough. But the rest I usually find pretty funny.

    The one thing I am still not really used to is the hidden camera (unless that was just a Invincible Youth thing). I mean they keep going until someone is dying of shame or literally crying and then they just shout “hidden cameraaaaa!” and all is cool again and they think it is the funniest thing ever. I am just used to the silly hidden camera jokes they normally do over here. Or maybe trying to scare people in Scare Tactics. But it is really weird to see people stand there and just destroy someone and then just laugh about it. I think even more so because everything else is so based on respect.

    And I love British humour (except maybe Russell Brand, never got why he was popular) and sarcasm.

    4 years ago
  34. hahahaha Martina’s april fool was so funny!!!….but also not funny when you think about it
    i remember when i first watched a variety show, probably Star King?, and i found it so odd because of all these effects they were using!!! like making someone’s (especially KHD) head large, lightning, darkening someone out to show they’re gloomy and so on!!! but i quickly got used to it!
    also sometimes i find something funny but the audience or everyone in the show finds it SO incredibly funny (that they start clapping) that i’m just left there waiting for them to stop!
    anyway i absolutely love watching Running Man and Infinity Challenge!!!

    which reminds me….there was and episode in IC where Thierry Henry came in as a guest!!!! it was such a freakin’ hilarious episode!!!! oh my goodness i was holding onto my stomach so much!! but that’s because i’m used to seeing the members act like such crazy freaks and doing their slapstick humour, but it was also so funny seeing Thierry Henry’s reaction to it all!!! he was just laughing and you can tell he was thinking ‘what the hell are these guys doing?’

    4 years ago
  35. Bwuahahah that is hilarious.

    4 years ago
  36. Oh my gos, you know doctor who! so happy!

    4 years ago
  37. I have a question for the TL DR
    I am a big fan of korean rap and hiphop. I heared most of the underground artists (or not known well artists) like Huckleberry P, Psycoban, Bizniz, Deepflow, ……. are meeting in Hongdae sometimes for the rap-battles. but I never saw any of them in TV shows or music events. Even the 1llionaires (Dok2, The Quiett, Beenzino), who are well known are more underground. Is rap music not accepted by the koreans? can you buy the cd´s in stores like others or are there other places for them?

    4 years ago
  38. I dont get the ‘British humour is soooo beyond me’ thing – are we really that different? What british comedy things have you guys seen? (just curious :P)

    4 years ago
  39. I never liked sarcasm myself, since even in areas that use it a lot it can be seen as demeaning. It’s easy for me to tell the difference between someone using sarcasm as a funny joke, and someone using it to kind of insult you, but someone still learning English would probably have a tough time.

    4 years ago
  40. I worked with Koreans in Samsung – they were like machines in work. They had no sense of humor, whatsoever.

    4 years ago
  41. Hahahaha, that April fool made me laugh so hard XDDDD

    Eeer, I didn’t understand why you wrote “Just four more until we can hire foreigners” ? Does this mean I can start writing my curriculum vitae ? :D:D

    4 years ago
  42. Fire Marshal Bill!

    Yes, still funny.
    No, I don’t care how old that makes me.

    4 years ago
  43. That’s the best April fools joke by students anywhere in the world.

    4 years ago
  44. It’s an old variety show that ended, but I highly recommended the first season of Family Outing! It was my first variety show and it was hilarious! They had a great crew.

    4 years ago
  45. I always gets excited to see my drawing in the background and I just puke rainbows *asdkjasdfsdkda* Love you guys :) ~

    4 years ago
  46. This really explains why most people don’t find Onew funny. He usually uses “verbal” jokes. Though his sangtae is the best physical humor, I always found his comments and jokes to be funny while others on shows seem to ignore it.

    4 years ago
  47. Oooh, that was one of Jim Carey’s characters on In Living Color!!

    4 years ago
  48. My question deals with sasaeng fans. I only recently learned about them and it came as kind of a shock because I figured that stalking was illegal everywhere, but I guess what I really want to know is that is this kind of behavior acceptable in Korea? Aren’t there any laws against it, like laws against stalking, harassment, or assault? It seems like Korea is a lot more accepting of obsessive behavior. :/

    4 years ago
  49. thanks for answering this question, guise! i tried to watch an episode
    of gag concert the other day and although the crowd was going nuts for
    the acts, i didn’t find it funny at all. that’s when i initially thought
    that koreans had a different sense of humor.

    running man is a
    small exception for me. they do have some physical gags that i find
    funny. i watch star golden bell and other variety game shows that have
    mostly verbal jokes that i get and find really hilarious. i don’t relate
    to the jokes but i get them from watching a lot of other programs. it
    seems like the more i watch, the more i get the jokes. maybe in time i
    will have a “korean” sense of humor.

    4 years ago
  50. I’m DONE. Tonight, I saw unexpectedly saw Andy Samberg’s face in Portlandia, witnessed The Lonely Island in the orgy scene in The Watch AND the scary snowman on Youtube courtesy of my brother; and now I hear Simon did a SHORYUKEN AND A CARTWHEEL to please a director. My brother and I have laughed so hard in the past hour. Thanks for adding to it guys. :D

    P.S. My brother says “Do not joke about Shoryukens in Korean. The Korean players will DEMOLISH YOU.” Ok then.

    4 years ago
  51. i think the fact that korean humor is often physical makes it easier for others to enjoy it. for example Gangnam style, the song was catchy yes, but it was probably the body gags and such and grabbed so much attention. while north american humor is a lot of times verbal, sarcasm and puns etc, which makes a person despite knowing english but who isn’t cultured in that way find it not funny. and i have to agree the editing makes it hilarious! Running man makes me laugh like crazy!

    4 years ago
  52. Kes

    Question; so my gaydar is totally borked in Korea. I largely love the metrosexuality (men who bathe regularly and dress well, what’s not to like?) but what goes beyond the norm? Like, I was in this coffee shop and a young guy sat down in front of their computer, pulled a FLATIRON out of his manbag, plugged it in, and started to straighten his hair using the monitor as a mirror.

    This isn’t really a focused question, honestly i just wanted to tell that story.

    4 years ago
  53. Oh A Fellow Whovian! I love it! :) yeah British humor takes a while to get used to.

    4 years ago
  54. “how is it we haven’t been stabbed by anyone in Korea yet? ”

    LOL. I do kinda wonder about whether comments on your videos by offended people are due to the fact that they don’t understand English well, or the fact that they don’t understand that it’s supposed to be a JOKE, and that you can actually say things just to be funny that aren’t dead serious criticisms. I mean, is EVERYTHING in kpop sacrosanct?

    Oh, and I’d be OK because I NEVER use sarcasm. ( <–sarcasm)

    4 years ago
  55. I love sarcasm jokes. I don’t know how I would survive if no one would understand them!! :D

    4 years ago
  56. Yes, I remember Fire Marshall Bill!!!!

    4 years ago
  57. :) Aww, I don’t know many people who remembers In Living Color, let alone that character Martina was imitating….Jim Carrey as a burnt safety instructor…Oh, the 90s

    4 years ago
    • Most Kpop fans aren’t old enough to remember In Living Colour, Meanwhile Homie the Clown was my peeps.

      4 years ago
  58. Fire Marshall Bill! I haven’t thought about that in years. So classic.

    4 years ago
  59. TL;DR Question

    Hi ^^Do you guys think that people recognize to you? And if so you’re are ready for that? Do you like to be famous? :D

    4 years ago
  60. TL;DR Question,
    Do you guys ever regret giving up teaching?

    4 years ago
  61. I don’t know, I think if any humor is performed well, it is universal. But I am not a slap-stick humor kind of girl, more dry wit. I will never understand/appreciate the Three Stooges (I’m American and I just don’t get it). But the best bit of television that I have seen recently was the tvN drama Answer Me 1997. It was soooo incredibly funny, if anyone has not seen it you are missing out. On another note, the Wayans Brothers are supposedly gearing up to have a 21st century “In Living Color”.
    Have you found anyone that appreciates the humor of “Chappelle Show” in Korea?

    4 years ago
    • In Living Colour and Chapelle Show were two of the most vital comedy shows to me and I am not American. But I am affected a lot by American culture. I too wonder if Koreans would be able to get that humor since much of it is so irreverent and based on specifically American issues. I mean would Rick James saying ‘ Cocaine is a hell of a drug’ resonate with someone who wasn’t really aware of all of his crazy antics back in the 80’s? ( Super Freak used to be my wake up alarm when I was a teenager) And Charlie Murphy with his story about Prince, which I found Laugh Out Loud hilarious, would it even make sense to people who don’t know how wired Prince is considered to be ( but very respected nonetheless) .

      4 years ago
      • Raise your hand if you started laughing just thinking about this. What did the five fingers say to the face? SLAP!

        4 years ago
  62. I was a huge fan of In Living Color! I’m older than you guys, how do you know about it?! Lol jk. Personally I must be universally in-tune to various humor styles, I laugh at pretty much everything, even British humor.

    4 years ago
  63. *raises hand* I remember Fire Marshall Bill. Let me show you something!!
    FYI, I was five when I started watching In Living Color… I’m old… > 3 <

    4 years ago
  64. Doctor Who joke! woohoo! Doctor Who reference!!! :D

    4 years ago
  65. The ending!! LOL! Love the cute corner of your office!

    4 years ago
  66. It was Jim Carey. I remember him from In living colour.

    4 years ago
  67. Hair coloring in the school system and in society

    I know that the Korean school system is very pro-rules and conservative, like not having nail polish except the nail dye thing that you showed us before. Do theses same rules apply to the teachers? Not only with nail polish but with hair dyes, like Martina with pink hair and Simon with dark reddish hair? Is it viewed with the same discrimination as tattoos? What about out side of the work place or in the entreatment business, as a lot of K-pop stars dye their hair as well. Thanks! -CyofAsia

    4 years ago
  68. I got to admit the crazy editing of the comedy shows was odd to me at first but then I did end up kinda liking it. It’s different and grabs your attention.

    4 years ago
  69. ((: This is for a future knock-knock joke:
    -Knock knock?
    -Who’s there?
    -You know.
    -You know wh-
    -AVADA KEDAVRA! :))

    BTW, love your videos. Keep it up and thanks for everything!! <33

    4 years ago
  70. Holy crap I just laughed so hard! A Doctor Who reference and Fire Marshall Bill in the same video. A friend and I were just doing FMB imitations the other day. Is that sad?

    4 years ago
  71. I remember In Living Colour (sp? wasn’t it spelled weird?), but alas… I am old lol. I find myself watching Korean shows all the time and I have no idea what the hell is going on lol…. yet I still smile and laugh, I would agree their shows are very “inviting” :p I’ve seen some examples of humor from the Netherlands and I have no clue how their humor works :-/ It’s pretty wacky.

    4 years ago
  72. Maybe I’ve just been watching too many Kdramas, but I feel like sarcasm, wit, and word plays are used plenty by Koreans, just not always in the way non-Koreans always expect them. (Though they seem pretty hilarious to me – anyone watching King of Dramas? Witty, ironic, satirical, the funny man-straight man routines – Choi Siwon’s timing? HILARIOUS!!!!) And I think it also just depends on different people and how they like to use language. There are plenty of North Americans who don’t sarcasm either. I myself am South African – and we use plenty of sarcasm, though we might try and make more puns and play with words in a more British way (but I think that’s all subjective). Many of my Korean friends (and many are not super proficient English speakers either) have been pretty witty and sarcastic when we’ve hung out, and it’s not like some of them have lived in the U.S. for very long. I guess what I am trying to say, is that I think it depends on people, and not as much on culture.

    4 years ago
  73. Kes

    Big Bang’s TOP got mailed wrong or something. His sense of humor is practically British–any time I see him on shows he SLAYS me, I die laughing. Whereas the other people on the show are just like “…uh…ok?”

    4 years ago
  74. I remember Fire Marshall Bill!!! OMG I’m old …. OTL

    4 years ago
    • Wait … that means I’m calling Martina old …. Not what I meant! I’m older than you, Martina. LOL

      4 years ago
  75. Korean SNL?!?!?!???!? OM-GEE-GEE-GEE baby baby……

    4 years ago
  76. Maybe you don’t see much of sexual humor on tv because most of the time they want it on slots before 10pm? Because SNL korea is almost nothing BUT sexual humor (the Jay Park episode anyone? yeah XD)

    I do see a lot of corny language jokes though and I am NOT opposed to it at all haha I’m not sure what the term for it is, but its the one when you make puns using words that sound similar or alike. An example of a lot of verbal humor I can think of off the top of my head is the wacky martial arts skit on Gag Concert, the physical humor would sometimes be lost if you didn’t get what they were saying.

    I’m sorry Martina but the prank your students pulled was brilliant. May not be funny to you because you’re on the receiving end but that was a great prank, as far as pranks go.

    I think some styles of humor ARE universal, its just the content and delivery that differ between cultures, like slapstick/physical humor. That said, humor is also such a subjective thing. Even within the same culture, you’ll have differing opinions on what is funny and what isn’t, like that Kang Hodong joke which might’ve been funny to other people outside of IU and SJ fans. I don’t know what the joke was but I wouldn’t judge the humor of a joke just based on the fact that fans got angry over it. Us fans..we forget to take off our goggles sometimes ^_^” Like how Simon forgets that he’s lame sometimes (its okay Simon, I laughed at your lame jokes. I have very low standards of humor, but I laughed? so..yay?)

    4 years ago
  77. I’ve noticed the prevalence of body gags in Korean variety shows. The editing really does enhance its hilarity.

    On the other hand, I’ve also found that there is in fact a lot of verbal humor involving word play in variety shows. It’s less accessible to people who don’t understand Korean though – a lot of the time the words/sounds don’t translate the same way into English and the humor is lost. A meticulous subber will put a translator’s note explaining the pun/play on words, but there’s usually so much information flashing across the screen in a variety show that you’d have to notice and pause the video to read it.

    Korean variety shows also involve a lot of games. Sometimes these games can be relatively simple, but the situations that they create, especially among famous actors and idols, can lead to hilarious things that you never thought you’d ever see.

    I also have seen playfully insulting humor between close cast members on variety shows, like Running Man and 1N2D.

    4 years ago
  78. Is smoking cigarettes a faux pas in Korea?

    4 years ago
  79. Wait, does this mean Epik High, in particular Tablo, isn’t really following the stock standard of Korean humour when they make all their punny jokes? Eg. All the Korean/English puns in Don’t Hate Me: http://fuuko4869.tumblr.com/post/34488382803/dont-hate-me-theres-more-to-this-video-than-meets

    4 years ago
    • Onew makes a lot of puns which i find hilarious when the subber explains it!! but everyone around him just ignores it or tells him it’s not funny! haha poor guy!

      4 years ago
    • There’s actually a lot of funny word play in Korean variety shows, it just flies under the radar if you don’t understand Korean. You have to find a nice subber who’ll go the extra mile and include a quick explanation. EDIT: But that’s variety shows. I’m not sure how punny the average Korean is in real life. Also, thinking back on interviews Tablo has given in English, I think he has more of the sarcastic, deadpan delivery of humor, which apparently is more of a Western thing, as well as a tendency to make puns. What can I say? He’s a cypher. :p

      4 years ago
    • SooOOOO many puns!

      4 years ago
  80. I have been wanting to ask this for a while now but Simon and Martina how was it like when u went on the set of Running Man and tried their food lol was it good or terrible and are kwangsoo, kim jong kook, jae suk, suk jin, ji hyo, jongki, haha, and gary really funny and amazing comedians?

    4 years ago
  81. This is true, that is why everyone sees Onew from SHINee as not very funny. He loves puns and uses them frequently, and he always gets a stale, awkward chuckle from his members and other Koreans. But, I think many foreigners think Onew is really funny. [at least I do] He always has witty come backs and uses puns well!

    4 years ago
  82. Martina, How did you do your hair? I think we need to open the happy and find out.

    4 years ago
  83. Don’t forget the British. Nobody does sarcasm like the British. Masters of the form.

    4 years ago
  84. Yes, Korean uses a lot, and I mean, A LOT of physical jokes. One thing I cannot understand with some of my Korean colleagues is about the barrier of the physical jokes. Like BakaBabo said, this kind of jokes only used for people who already close to each other. But some of my colleagues, use it even with a new guy in the office, or someone who barely knew them. So it’s kinda weird and odd, since we don’t find it funny, at all!

    Well, this week’s topic is awesome. Now I can understand some things about their jokes, but personally, I still think it’s hard to make some jokes with ’em, no offense :) I just feel umm…awkward.

    4 years ago
  85. LOL MARTINA. I LOVED FIRE MARSHALL BILL! <3

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdR2T6YKAUc

    4 years ago
  86. I laughed so hard when Simon said “Yes, that is acceptable”. It’s so sad that Simon did all that as if he ate 6 tablespoons of sugar and the director was just like “Yes, that is acceptable” so calmly ROFL XD

    4 years ago
  87. I think the thing about the Eunhyuk/IU thing, was not that the joke was not funny, it was that the fans were still very sensitive because the scandal had only come out like a week or 2 before.(As a Jewel, yes, I’ll admit, I was irrationally butthurt for the first few weeks and made the choice to bad mouth IU, and I do regret it now, she is a very talented artist, and if they want to have a healthy relationship as adults then they should)
    I have also noticed something maybe not so much about humor, but just something that Koreans seem to do(that I’ve seen anyway) If they are in kind of an awkward situation, they’ll smile and laugh and try to make light of it, whereas Americans seem to deal with those sorts of things in a more serious manner, or just ignore the awkwardness altogether. (Just my opinion from my own experiences)

    4 years ago
  88. For what I’ve noticed from watching Korean variety shows is that sarcasm is there, though it is used between entertainers who are comfortable with each other in real life. For example, when I watch Running Man and 1 Night 2 Days, the cast members do a lot of jokes where they fake insult each others and pretend to be mean, but this happens only when they know each other well and aren’t afraid of their jokes being misunderstood. Since Koreans, like you said, are very polite with each other and have to be respectful towards their elders and superiors, they don’t seem to use sarcasm as often like Americans do. But when they do, in variety shows and between friends, I find it to be very funny. It’s easy to go overboard with sarcasm and hurt someone’s feelings (and I notice that sometimes about American humor), but thanks to the Korean politeness the sarcastic jokes are usually quite well-balanced in general.
    At the same time, I have to agree with you that there is a lot of physical comedy and over-exaggeration. I don’t find over-exaggerated physical jokes, toilet humor and slapstick comedy that funny, though. I only enjoy physical comedy that it seems unplanned and natural, which is why I prefer variety shows where the cast is put into unusual situations and then the comedy seems to happen all by itself, without forcing themselves to be funny.
    One thing that I think is unique about Korean comedy is the fondness for all sorts of games. In variety shows they oftentimes play various games (most of them entirely new to me) and it’s very funny if players take them seriously enough (and they usually do, very seriously even). And since I’m usually totally unaware of the rules of these games, the way the shows are edited is actually very helpful. Like you mentioned, they use these cartoon “tears”, images, sound effects and extra remarks that emphasize and “explain” you the jokes. Perhaps it would seem annoying if I understood everything, but it makes so much easier for international fans like me to watch these shows. And once you’ve gotten used to this, it doesn’t really bother you. In fact, it even makes the viewing experience more enjoyable. You just have to be fast enough to read the subtitles and every little commentary on the screen,

    Okay, this all is only based on my observations of Korean dramas and variety shows. So feel free to disagree with me here. And sorry for this extremely long comment. I just really liked this week’s question for the TL;DR.

    4 years ago
  89. I actually really find Korean Variety shows funny to the point that I laugh so hard.. But i need English subtitle though… Over exaggeration is also what I use to teach my student while being funny..

    4 years ago
  90. You should have countered her Fire marshal Bll with a Homie the Clown….I dont know who all got the references but bonus points to you guys for droppng an In Living Color Reference.. LMAO made my night. TY

    4 years ago
  91. Love the Doctor Who crack!!!!! <3

    4 years ago
  92. Way old enough to remember In Living Color, Fire Marshall Bill, Men on Books and “Homey Don’t Play That”.

    4 years ago
  93. I’m very sarcastic, lol, sarcastic and insulting to my friends XD Guess if I ever go to Korea I’m gonna have to censor myself

    4 years ago
    • I am also very sarcastic and it doesn’t go over well with people in my country, especially my students.

      4 years ago
  94. DOCTOR WHO joke omg lololoo8oll8oll

    4 years ago
  95. HAHAHA LOOOOVED THE ENDING! yes simon… people do watch till the end!!!! XD

    4 years ago
  96. Koreans loves puns! Have you seen any of the TVshow X-Man, during the OfCourse! segment… a lot of it are puns and word play, name play and things like that. There are many bits where there are puns… they just don’t translate very well because the korean connection between the words can be missed when translated into english.

    4 years ago
    • No, I don’t live in Korea, I live in Australia…. with Koreans, who speak “koreans”, and they use word-play and puns as much as anyone else. eg. Q: 뱀파이어의는 음료를 좋아요?(What is a vampire’s favourite drink?) 코피! This always makes them giggle… Ko-pi, it means nosebleed – but it sounds very similar to 커피, the word for coffee. I had this explained to me when I tried to ask them to go out and get nosebleeds and they almost died laughing.
      edit: maybe you just live in a really serious part of korea?

      4 years ago
  97. you guys were so right on the editing- a lot of the times it’s really the captions and edits that are done that make variety shows hilarious for me. Like they’ll add a sound effect and ! when a guest is caught off guard or surprised, and I’ll just be DYING from laughter. xD

    i will admit that the replays can get REALLY annoying- especially when it’s supposedly a suspenseful scene and they replay it 5 TIMES in SLOW MOTION from different angles. *-_-

    4 years ago
  98. Of course I remember Fire Marshall Bill. Do you remember 3 snaps up (in z-formation)?
    It’s funny because when I started watching dramas I picked up immediately that sarcasm wasn’t really a common form of humor in Korea. On the other hand, I’ve known some EXTREMELY sarcastic Korean Americans.

    4 years ago
  99. It’s an English thing. Sarcasm is key to British and Canadian humor. Canadians love sarcasm.

    4 years ago
  100. If you haven’t watched Runningman yet, you are missing perhaps the best TV show in the world. I am such an absolute addict to this show. My daughter and I are huge fans and if there were just one TV star we could meet, I would be hard pressed to choose between the Runningmen. Seriously…. Watch and episode.

    4 years ago
    • I absolutely LOVE that show!! Im glad to have found a fellow addict! People seriously dont know what they are missing at all. I love the whole cast, except jong Kook, he gets on my nerves sometimes. But Lee Kwangsoo and everyone else just ROCKS! :D

      4 years ago
    • Me too! Especially Yoo Jae Suk!

      4 years ago
    • Running Man is the very first S. Korean variety show that I religiously followed, episode to episode. So my perspective of S. Korean humor in general is the humor used in Running Man. There have been jokes in the show that just didn’t get to me, mostly because of the cultural differences and because I’m not the biggest fan of physical jokes. But there have also been many, many times where I just find myself rolling all over the floor laughing when they use sarcasm (and I tell you, the Running Men do use a lot of it).

      (While we’re at it, slightly off topic, the subbing team for Running Man definitely made the show a winner for a lot of us foreigners. I don’t know what we’ll do now that there are threats of it being taken down as well. I don’t think Running Man will enjoy the amount of popularity they have overseas without this subbing team.)

      4 years ago
    • OMG I know who I would choose Lee Kwang Soo aka The Giraffe aka the Betrayer aka teh awesomestest runningman of evars.

      4 years ago
      • Kwang Soo is soooo my favorite!!! He’s so innocent and yet he so easily back-stabs. So many conflicting emotions!!!

        4 years ago
        • Yes! I love his pathetic faces and theme music when he gets betrayed or left behind like on some of the episodes on the high speed rail. I don’t know what I’ll do if Runningman ever goes off air. I think I might lose my will to live.

          4 years ago
  101. FIRE MARSHALL BILL! JIM CARREY! OMG I LOVED THAT SKIT!!!! getting those nails stuck in his head and getting burned…ahh…good times… xD and I couldn’t live without sarcasm…it’s my second language :)

    4 years ago
  102. Well…I am going to have to disagree a little. I am South African…and in South Africa we totally use sarcasm all the time. And the United Kingdom is also big on the sarcasm, and being witty. I am not as sure about Australia and New Zealand though.

    4 years ago
  103. Yes, I remember Fire Marshal Bill. I had wondered about the humour thing as well – given the brouhaha over BATOOST and all… and now I am sad. Sarcasm has no place in Korean humour. *emo tear*

    4 years ago
  104. I remember Fire Marshal Bill!

    4 years ago
  105. so is it nice to have a work place and a home place…..

    4 years ago
  106. I must be going to hell because I found that April Fool’s prank on Martina was pretty funny lol side note my birthday is on April Fool’s

    4 years ago
  107. I honestly believe 100% of my humor is just being mean to people. And for some reason, people laugh at that! Of course, it’s not as if I really mean the things I say, however just poking fun at people who I’m comfortable around makes others laugh. I’m not sure if that’s a type of humor or anything, but that’s the only way I get people to laugh.

    4 years ago
  108. I don’t think the IU x Eunhyuk joke was culturally not funny to the Korean fans, it was probably just the fans being protective over their idols. We all know kpop fans are extremely sensitive when it comes to their favourite idols. I personally enjoy funny sex jokes once in a while myself, but I did NOT like them at all in this scenario since I’m a huge IU fan and it was totally destroying her image…

    4 years ago
  109. Ah, the Eunhyuk/IU drama, i.e. ‘The Scandal That Never Was’… I think fans were more angry about the fact that in that episode they kept pushing the jokes at Eunhyuk’s expense, even after it was pretty clear that both him and the others didn’t find it funny? It wasn’t nice seeing him look so blatantly put-out :/ It just left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths, I guess.

    Also the thing about Korea not really using ‘adult’ humour, I thought that at least every episode of SNL Korea was 19-rated? I’ve only seen the (seemingly infamous) Super Junior episode and some of the Jay Park one, but both of those were, shall we say, DEFINITELY worth the rating XD

    4 years ago
  110. I do get your point, at the beginning I found Korean variety kinda… awkward? Like the style of humor they use is very (can’t find another word) basic/simple. Something that can be understood by most people (hence the predominance of physical jokes). Regarding verbal jokes, in our case as foreigners sometimes it’s barely possible to understand them without (in the case of subbed shows) a short caption explaining the meaning of it.
    Now I personally love it!! The appeal of it for me it’s the part where pretty much anything can turn into a joke, differently from Mexican humor which tends to go to the “dirty/double sense/swearing” jokes (and this isn’t my cup of tea, I’m more into American and British humor since they’re more based on clever language jokes and sarcasm -I’m very sarcastic myself so it sits me I guess-), so everything is quite refreshing to me.

    And the cheesy edits!! At first you do find annoying the “let’s repeat this 13894710489 times” but then it just feels awkward without them.

    4 years ago
  111. Martina has so much aegyo :3

    4 years ago
  112. i love sarcastic humor so much XD couldn’t live without it

    4 years ago
  113. I have a problem like this: I find jokes like ‘Your momma’ jokes totally fine when they’re made by Western people (like you guys) but it would sound rude to me if a Korean made the joke. I don’t know why….

    4 years ago
  114. Don’t feel bad. I know plenty of native English speakers that don’t get sarcasm. I think it’s not something that everyone can get. I can be really sarcastic at times and have had people look at me with a blank look thinking that I’m being serious.

    4 years ago
    • yep me to! Plus sometimes when I’m being sarcastic and picking on people I’ve used “big” words before and I remember this one guy was like what does that mean. I had to then explain to him how I was “playfully” insulting him and what the insult meant. Took all the fun out of it… It wasn’t even a “big” word.

      4 years ago
  115. I personally am a variety junky! It’s actually what really got me into Kpop and I rely on it to introduce me to new bands all the time. I find it hilarious! I remember searching for all different kinds of variety shows and when I would get interested in a group I would look everywhere for english subbed variety shows that they were in. You can really tell a difference from some of the shows from a few years ago to today’s shows though.

    The one show where I found quite a few of my favorite groups was Star Golden Bell. I loved that show! Now of course I’m obsessed with Shinhwa Broadcast (I’m a ShinChan!) and I’ve been watching episodes of Teen Top & 100%. (plus I’ve been going back and watching some of the older shows like X-Man and Oh My School and SuJu’s Explorers of the Human Body, etc).

    Oh, and yeah I found the April Fools Day prank the students played on Martina absolutely hilarious… but I have a warped sense of humor at times.

    4 years ago
  116. I can’t believe you guise made this already after all the EYKA craziness! Seriously, we just can’t thank you enough for all the hard (and fantastic (baby)) work you put into your videos/blog!

    4 years ago
  117. lmd

    Eh, don’t take it too personally you guys. Some of those Suju fans can be cray cray.

    4 years ago
  118. I would find it SO HARD not to be sarcastic. I find sarcasm to be a natural part of everyday living. You know what I mean?

    4 years ago
  119. *Sneaky copy from the Christmas TL DR*
    Question for next TLDR- I work in healthcare & believe Australia
    & Canada have similar health care systems (big ups for public
    health!) What is the system like in South Korea. Do they have GPs/local
    Doctors and/or how is the hospital system managed? Cheers…

    4 years ago