Video Fix: Linguistic Comedy – Language as a source of humour

November 22, 2017 11:39 am

Video Fix linguistic comedy



When you learn foreign languages you have to endure countless awkward experiences that have arisen from misunderstandings between yourself and the native speakers with whom you are conversing. We’ve all been there, and this type of embarrassing situation is usually something people will do their best to avoid.

However, in the world of comedy this kind of misunderstanding can be perfect for entertaining an audience or just to garner a few laughs from your friends. Whether it’s improvised, from an anecdote or part of an explanation, language can be used as an effective way to get people to relate to your act and to share your sense of humour.

For this reason, many comedians make use of this style of humour, often in an observational way, when they are performing in front of an audience from a different country. When done in a friendly and light-hearted way, this kind of comedy can be very effective and the performer usually pokes fun at themselves and the habits of their own nation as well. An example of this can be seen in the first video below with German comedian Flula Borg teaching American talk show host Conan O’Brien some German phrases as well as a bit about his nation’s culture.

Do you like this type of comedy? If so, you’ll enjoy this week’s Video Fix!

Watch these hilarious videos and feel free to comment below if you know any comedians or comedy sketches that make use of this style of humour.


Another way of using language-based comedy effectively is to make relatable jokes about the process of learning a new language. A great example of this comes from French comedian Gad Elmaleh who recalls the phrases that were used to teach English when he was in school.


Even though linguistic misunderstandings usually occur between people of different nationalities, we can sometimes get things mixed up while speaking in our mother tongue, as demonstrated by this classic British comedy sketch. Enjoy!


We hope you enjoyed this look at the relationship between comedy and language. See you next week for another enjoyable Video Fix!


Written by
Liam Kennedy
– Schuman Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament. Graduate of Journalism with a Language (French) at Dublin Institute of Technology. Currently completing a Masters in Translation Studies at University College Cork.


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