by Laura Turner Garrison
The Joke: Your family is so stupid, you give your chickens hot water so they can lay boiled eggs.
Why It's Funny: Mchongoano is a type of joke found in Sheng, a language that originated in Nairobi. Mchongoano is used in dissing battles, comparable to “your mom” slams in the United States.
The Joke: Q: How do you entertain a bored pharaoh?
A: You sail a boatload of young women dressed only in fishing nets down the Nile and urge the pharaoh to go catch a fish.
Why It's Funny: Well, it’s not, really, but some sources identify it as one of the oldest jokes in the world.
The Joke: A girl asks an Argentine man for a light. He pats his trousers, chest, and back pockets.
“Sorry,” he says. “I don’t have one, but wow, do I have a great body or what?”
Why It's Funny: Argentine men have a reputation for excessive vanity among their fellow South Americans. No one enjoys poking fun at them quite like the neighboring Uruguayans.
The Joke: A Gabrovonian has to mend his door, so he sends his son to the neighbor’s to borrow a hatchet. The child returns empty-handed; the neighbor had lied about not having a hatchet.
“Don’t bother about that miser,” says the father indignantly. “Bring our hatchet up from the cellar.”
Why It's Funny: The city of Gabrovo is a self-declared international comedy capital where the residents are notoriously thrifty.
The Joke: Q: How do you turn a Trabant into a sports car?
A: Put sneakers in the glove compartment!
Why It's Funny: The Trabant was the best-selling car in the former East Germany. The ride is a punchline for its cheapness, due in no small part to its grossly underpowered engine and plastic body.
The Joke: Rural Minister: My son, arak is a person’s worst enemy.
The Drunk: Father, you have always preached that we should love our enemy.
Rural Minister: This is very true, my son, but I have never said you should swallow your enemy.
Why It's Funny: Arak is the Lebanese national liquor, a 100-proof spirit distilled from grapes and green aniseeds. Drink enough of it and this joke’s hilarious.
The Joke: A chess player who thought highly of his own skill once lost three games in a row. The next day, a friend asked him how the games had turned out.
“I didn’t win the first game,” the chess player replied, “and my opponent didn’t lose the second. As to the third game, I asked him to agree to a draw, but he wouldn’t.”
Why It's Funny: As you might guess, Chinese jokes are fairly straightforward, avoid political topics, and steer clear of depressing subject matter.
The Joke: A Burmese man visits a dentist in India.
The dentist asks him: “Don’t you have dentists in Burma?”
“Yes, we do,” the man replies, “but we’re not allowed to open our mouths.”
Why It's Funny: Until its dissolution in 2011, the military junta that ruled Burma effectively outlawed free speech. Burmese comedian Zarganar spent three years in jail for telling jokes like this one.
9. Sri Lanka
The Joke: A teacher has told her students to write an essay on a cricket match. All are busy writing except Udurawana.
He wrote: “DUE TO RAIN, NO MATCH!!!”
Why It's Funny: Sri Lankan jokes often feature a dim-witted fellow named Udurawana (no relation to the village of the same name).
The Joke: Q: Why do Australians pee in the bushes at parties?
A: Because there’s always someone chundering in the toilet.
Why It's Funny: Australians so proudly joke about their drinking habits that an entire genre of humor has developed around “chunder”—Aussie slang for vomit.
All photos courtesy of iStock.