How Does Italian Humor Differ From American Humor?

Humor varies among countries and cultures. Culture very well shapes humor as it can be linked to the historical context of a nation and how it developed across changing times. There are so many factors that could lead to this acceptance or rejection—age, social interaction, level of education and differences in geographical locations.

Hence, as much as jokes only mean to bring laughter to the audience, humor isn’t always transferable or easily accepted. What may be a joke in one country can be something offensive in another. At the end of the day, jokes are subject to cultural interpretation, and sometimes, even personal. For this post, Italian humor will be distinguished from American humor.

 Use of Irony

when life gives you lemons make limoncello, The proud Italian

Perhaps the easily identified difference between Italian humor and American humor is the use of irony and the corresponding response. For Italians, the irony is basically used on a regular basis. It also matters if an Italian is well-educated because the irony could go beyond tangible things.

For the Americans, the irony isn’t that much used—at least not as frequently as Italian humor uses it. The Americans are usually afraid of offending people, so they are known to adding  “just kidding” in every joke they make, or when the joke isn’t as much obvious.

Meaning and Approach

The American humor is more slapstick, direct and forward. Italian humor differs from American humor in a way that the former is generally subtle and isn’t always clearly understood. Sometimes, people hearing Italian jokes take a few seconds before they burst into laughter, or do not laugh at all, simply because the joke was too deep for them to get.

American humor can easily be understood, as they tend to state out the obvious and add another perspective to it, which people can generally relate to. This difference could be attributed to the kind of people they are—Americans are more straightforward, compared to Italians that are seen as reserved.

Target of Joke

Italian humor, aside from being very deep in meaning, is also pretty sardonic. They laugh at things that one would find very offensive. One great example is themselves—they find themselves much entertained if the jokes are on them. However, they do not really take offense on it, as they also make fun of life’s taboos, including racism and human nature.

American Humor compared to Italian humor tends to joke on the general ways of life, avoiding hitting on someone as a target.