As acclaimed humorist and scriptwriter Leo Rosten expertly put it: “humour is the affectionate communication of insight.” When it comes to Argentine humour, littered with references to their history and identity as a nation, the insight is all too clear to see.Many will be well-acquainted with the country’s humorist take in comic strips, TV shows, stand-up, and even prank-calling from the memorable Doctor Tangalanga. It is easy to come face to face in Buenos Aires with street art depicting Mafalda, the famous six-year-old – brought to life by Quino – who is constantly preoccupied with world peace, the state of humanity, and her hatred of soup.
Everyday jokes – those classic jokes that everyone knows – show the finer details of Argentine personality and often are a reflection of their passions and thoughts. The exaggerated nature of certain types of jokes, and an ability to make fun of themselves, demonstrates pride, defiance, and self-awareness.
From historical references to an identity formed through migration, to the more recent woes of the economic crisis – it seems nothing is off limits for Argentines. And if laughter is the best medicine, they sure know how to find the cure.
Outlined below are the top five joke themes – with a selection of the funniest ones we’ve heard (in Spanish too) – to get you into the Argentine funny book.
It is very common to hear jokes made at the expense of gallegos – Galician people – although this term is more loosely used in Argentina to refer to Spaniards in general. While the migration flow to Argentina was vast and consisted of many other nationalities, it seems the gallegos have long retained the crown for best subject matter in jokes, becoming the nation’s proverbial dim-wit.
It is suggested that they have gained this title due to the fact that the Galician region was the most isolated in all of Spain and as a consequence, Galicians were considered to be ignorant, poor, and superstitious. A vast number of Galicians emigrated from the region to South American nations and were often seen as peasants, with a slightly foolish nature. With this, the jokes began and it seems they have not stopped.
Lastly, if a gallegos is ever named in a joke, he is always called Manolo. So next time you hear that name in a joke, you will know where it is going…
A un gallego le dijeron que su mujer lo engañaba con su mejor amigo…
Entonces mato al perro.
A Galician was told that his wife was sleeping with his best friend…
So he killed his dog.
¿Por qué van 19 gallegos al cine?
Porque la película es prohibida para menores de 18.
Why did 19 Galicians go to the cinema?
Because the film was prohibited for under 18s.
Jaimito is the popular subject of jokes in various cultures, although he may be known by a different name such as Pepito, Pierino, and Toto, among others. Jaimito is the mischievous schoolboy that enjoys nothing more than to prank his fellow students, crack witty comebacks at his teacher, and generally get into silly situations which trouble his parents, in the funniest way possible of course.
Jaimito came to life as a wide-eyed blonde with a mischievous grin in 1974 with the help of Horacio Saavedra and Francisco Mazza for the journalist Franco Panzera. His adventures were documented in his very own magazine called “Las Diabluras de Jaimito” (Jaimito’s Pranks) between 1988 and 1996.
There really are too many Jaimito jokes to even begin to pick one, but here are a couple that will definitely make your Argentine friends chuckle:
La maestra le pregunta a Jaimito:
- Si yo digo fui rica, es tiempo pasado, pero si digo soy hermosa, ?que es?
- Exceso de imaginacion.
The teacher asks Jaimito:
- If I say ‘I was rich’, it’s the passed tense, but if I say ‘I am beautiful’, what is it?
- An excessive imagination
Jaimito le dice a su mama:
!Mama!, !mama!, !dame dinero para darselo a un pobre senor que paso gritando
por la calle!
La mama le responde:
- ¿Y qué gritaba ese senor?
- ¡Helados! ¡Lleven sus helados!
Jaimito says to his mother:
- Mother! Mother! Give me some money for the poor old man that’s shouting along the road!
- What is he shouting?
- Ice creams! Come get your ice creams!
Political jokes can dominate any friendly conversation with Argentines, who can draw on a rich and volatile history. With the recent economic troubles the country has been through, it is pretty amazing to see how much humour Argentine’s have derived from such a dire situation.
One political figure that certainly takes lead as butt of the jokes is Carlos Menem, former president of the country and considered by many to be a central reason for the economic collapse in 2001. The ex leader has been involved in so many scandals slash criminal activities and all-round bad ideas – selling illegal arms, bribing multi-nationals, releasing criminals, to name a few – that he has even become considered a curse in the country.
Today, even mentioning the former president’s name is considered bad luck. It is not uncommon to hear Argentines refer to him as “Menen” or “Mendez” to avoid unwanted curses. Menem is Argentina’s ‘Berlusconi’: flashy, extravagant, funny-looking, and able to create national economic havoc while making great personal gains – perfect joke material!
Conversan dos amigos:
- Che, y cómo te va con la crisis actual?
- Ah, bárbaro, duermo como un bebé.
- ¿En serio?
- Sí, ¡me despierto cada tres horas llorando!
Conversation between two friends:
- How’s the current crisis going?
- Oh, wonderfully, I sleep like a baby.
- Yes, I wake up every three hours crying.
En un lugar estaban una chica, un chico y Menem.
El chico se baja los pantalones y muestra el culo y dice: “éste es como la Amazona: impenetrable.”
La chica muestra las tetas y dice: “éstas son como Estados Unidos: intocables.”
Por último, el expresidente Menem muestra el pene y dice: “éste es como la Argentina: nunca se levanta.”
A woman, a man, and Menem are in a room. The man lowers his pants and shows his butt: “This is like the Amazon: impenetrable,” he says.
The woman shows her breasts and says: “These are like the United States: untouchable.”
Finally, ex-president Menem shows his penis and says: “This is like Argentina: it never gets up.”
On borrachos (drunks)It is easy to see why borrachos, or drunks, are so easy to make fun of all over the world. With the vibrant nightlife of Argentina and the feel-good attitude of Argentines always up for a good time, there are numerous drunk scenarios to pick from.
The drunk subjects can usually be regarded as older men spending their time away from their wives or jobs drinking in old rustic bars throughout the day. There’s no particular reason for this apart from the humour that this image evokes – a group of grown men, drinking themselves into stupidity. Of course, drunks are considered universally funny – not just in Argentina – but this country’s version often play up eccentric and surreal situations to give it a local touch.
Un borracho llama por teléfono:
- ¿Me puede decir, dónde está el doctor Ramírez?
- ¡No conozco ningún doctor Ramírez!
- Es que el doctor Ramírez soy yo, pero no sé dónde estoy.
A drunk makes a telephone call:
- Can you please tell me where Dr Ramírez is?
- I don’t know of any Dr Ramírez.
- I’m Dr Ramírez, but I have no clue where I am.
Son dos borrachos en un bar y uno le dice al otro: No bebas más que te estas volviendo borroso.
Two drunks are in a bar and one says to the other: “Don’t drink anymore – you’re becoming blurry.”
They say that every time lightning strikes in Argentina, everyone looks up and smiles; apparently, God is taking their picture. As many readers will know, either from first-hand experience or second-hand information, Argentines – and we have to stress that this mainly applies to the people of Buenos Aires – traditionally have a tendency to consider themselves to be European. They are well-known to mention, let’s just say more than once, their European ancestry, particularly if this said in front of their South American counterparts. This has resulted in a regional stereotype as arrogant, narcissistic, and proud of it, in the region as well as abroad.
It seems the Argentines have taken pride in showcasing jokes about this stereotype and as a result, some of the funniest (and most common) one-liners are on the Argentine nature itself. Add to this a few gags on their problem’s as a country in general and you’ll have a good combination for understanding the Argentines and making them laugh at the same time.
-¿Qué es el ego?
Es el argentinito que todos llevamos dentro.
- What is an ego?
It’s the little Argentine we all have in us.