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.

  1. 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?

  2. i have another question were do u get korean fashion?

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

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

  5. For the next TLDR can you guys teach us some basic Korean words?

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. Martina, I really love your hair in this video!

  9. that was amazingly epic! but they are so naughty naughty….:)

  10. 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. =]

  11. 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… >_<

  12. 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.

  13. well they did find a unicorn’s nest in NK recently….

  14. 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.

  15. 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. :)

  16. “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!


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

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

  18. 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??

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

  20. 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.

  21. 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??

  22. 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.

  23. “You’re funny looking”

  24. 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.
    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!)

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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?

  30. 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?

  31. 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.

  32. 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?’

  33. Oh my gos, you know doctor who! so happy!

  34. 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?

  35. 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)

  36. 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.

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