Most people's reaction to the term 'ethnic joke' is to think of something that uses stereotyping and insults to make fun of a culture or ethnicity. There are, tho, jokes that take advantage of the differences of cultures in a humorous way. Not too MANY, but a few. I really enjoy those, and want to collect them. Admittedly, this file will grow REAL slowly.
This is also a good place to put travel humor.
A sort of subset of the ethnic joke is the 'How Many ---- Does It Take To Change a Lightbulb' joke. (or, sharpen a sword, in a certain fantasy series) It usually pokes fun at a characteristic of a group that stands out, when viewed by outsiders. Some of my and other's versions: How Many?
A man was in town for some errands during Yom Kippur. As he passed a seafood restaurant, the smells of the food drew his attention. He was observing the traditional fasting, so he continued past the eatery, but saw in the window his rabbi at a table, sitting at a table with a plate of oysters. Aghast, he rushed into the cafe and up to the rabbi's table. 'Rabbi! How can you, of all people, be eating shellfish?! And today, of all days!?'
The rabbi answered, 'What? What? There's an 'r' in 'Yom Kippur'!'
Many years ago:
An indian chief decides that his tribe needs their first car. They collect the money, make the purchase, and he decides to take it for the first drive.
About an hour down the road, one tire goes flat. The chief is not sure what to do, but after dealing with white men in general, and the car salesman in particular, he's pretty sure its going to cost him some bucks. Problem is, he has almost nothing on him.
So, he builds a fire in the sagebrush, and sends a smoke signal: "Car broke. Tire Flat. Send someone with $200 to my location."
The tribe sees the signal, acknowledges it.....and then asks "But Chief, why so much?"
Just then, one of the first nuclear test blasts goes off. A giant column of fire and smoke rises up and briefly outshines the sun.
The tribe immediately sends: "Hey, sorry, Chief, we were just ASKING!"
A Pagan died and, much to her surprise, found herself at the Pearly Gates facing St. Peter. He walked up to her and said, "Hello, and welcome."
She stared at St. Peter in complete confusion. "Wait a minute," she said. "I was supposed to end up in the Summerlands."
He smiled. "Ah, you must be one of our Pagan sisters. Follow me, please."
Peter gestured for her to follow him down a small path, which went through the gates and down a bit to the left. They walked for a short while, then he stepped back and gestured her forward. Looking past his hand, she saw the verdant fields and forests of her desired Summerlands. She saw people feasting, dancing, and making merry, exactly as she expected.
While shaking her head in wonder, the Pagan happened to glance over to one side and saw a small group of people a short way away from the edge of the Summerlands. The people in the group were watching the revellers, but not joining them. Instead, they were screaming and weeping piteously. The Pagan looked at St. Peter.
"Who are those people?" she asked.
St. Peter replied, "Them? They are fundamentalists. They're a bit surprised to see you all there, so they stand there and carry on like that all day."
"Why? Don't they have better things to do?"
Peter leaned conspiratorially toward her. "They don't really have a choice. They are actually in Hell. God doesn't like being told what He thinks!"
An American businessman goes into a restroom in Montreal. He screams, and comes out looking for the manager. Manager comes quickly and wants to know the problem.
"Look here! I turned on the cold water and got scalded!"
"Oh, I see, monsieur, but you see, the 'c' on the faucet refers to the French word 'chaud' which means 'hot.' I am sorry for the confusion." He turns to leave."
"Wait a minute," says the businessman, "the other tap has a 'c' as well! What's up with that?"
"Ah, monsieur, that refers to the English word 'cold.' Remember, this is a bilingual city..."
A woman is visiting her parents over the holidays. One night, after dinner, she's helping her mother put the dishes away. Her mom is real adamant about certain dishes going in certain cabinets, and others kept in a separate one. The woman is surprised, as here parents were never terribly orthodox when she grew up.
"Mom, when did you and dad start keeping Kosher?"
"Kosher, smosher, everything in THIS cabinet your father can put in the microwave, everything in THAT cabinet he can't!"
A Navajo Indian escorted certain tribal artifacts to New York for a museum's National Heritage exposition. He was fascinated with Manhattan. A native noticed him walking around staring at things, and walked up to him. 'So,' he asked, 'What do you think of our city?'
'Oh, it's wonderful,' was the reply, 'And what do you think of our country?'
A Jewish Man escapes Nazi Germany and emigrates to London. Generally paranoid about Gentiles in power, now, he makes himself over into a classic English Gentleman. He speaks right, adopts the right politics, wears the right ties, and generally is indistinguishable from his business partners.
He does well in The City, buys a country house, hunts in high class society. Then one day, after The War, he learns that his father has survived, and arranges to bring him over the England as well. He loves his father, but worries that he'll be 'outed' as a Jew. He explains to his father, who agrees to adopt English mannerisms to protect his son from class retribution.
So he replaces his gabardine coat with a Harris Tweed hacking jacket and his cabbage soup with roast beef rare and says "Dad, I'm sorry but my barber is going to cut off your ear locks -- English gentlemen don't wear them."
The old man during this transformation had remained silent. But when his ear locks are cut off, he burst into tears. "Oh Pater," says his son "I didn't mean to hurt you."
The tears continue to stream down the old man's face. "You don't understand," he sobs, "I'm crying because we lost India."
A native of Berlin is in Vienna, and lost. He grabs a passing native and barks: 'The post office! Where is it?'
The startled Viennese carefully removes the other's fist, straightens his coat, and gently says, 'Sir, this is Vienna, the center of Austrian Charm and politeness. It would have been better for you to approach quietly, make eye contact, and then ask 'If you have the time, I need instructions to get to the post office and would be very obliged if you could direct me.''
The Berliner turned away and growled over his shoulder, 'I'd rather be lost!'
A year later, the same Vienna native was lost in Berlin. He approached a native of that city and asked 'Excuse me, sir, if you have the time, I need instructions to get to the post office and would be very obliged if you could direct me.' The man he spoke to shot out 'Turn completely around, forward three blocks, sharp turn right, immediate left, down the ramp, slight left turn, ahead one block and on the next block, third door on the left.'
The Viennen was still lost, and confused, but politely started to thank the man for his kind help, when the Berlinner grabbed his coat and shouted, 'Never mind the thanks! Repeat the instructions!'
Husband: I heard a good one today, Abraham and Levy were walking-
Wife: Why are all your jokes about Abraham and Levy?
Husband: Why shouldn't my jokes be about Abraham and Levy?
Wife: It's racist, telling Jewish jokes all the time.
Husband: But it's a Jewish joke!
Wife: I don't care, try something different for a change.
Husband: Okay, Mustafa and Hamal were walking to a synagogue for the bar mitzvah of Hamal's nephew-
Two homeless guys are standing outside of a large church in New York. One of them is wearing a big Star of David on his chest, while the other one is wearing a big cross. As soon as the people come out of the building, they both extend their hands so as to receive charity from the congregation. Well almost all the churchgoers approach the man with the cross, and most avoid the one with the Star of David. This goes on for a couple of weeks, until the preacher of the church takes notice. A kind and concerned man, he approached the man wearing the Star of David...
"Excuse me sir," he said, "but I notice that you are not doing so well here, maybe you should try to go to a Jewish house of worship, I am sure that you will do better there." The man with the Star of David smiled and thanked him for his kind advice.
When the preacher re-entered the building, the man with the Star of David approached the one with the cross and said... “Hey, Moshe, get this guy. He wants to teach us the business."
A travel agent was concerned when an older couple who booked a trip to Italy through my travel agency insisted on hiring a car to drive themselves around Rome. Nothing he could say about the dare devil drivers and frenetic traffic could sway them from their plan. His heart was heavy the day they came in to pick up their rental car vouchers until they assured him that he had absolutely no reason to worry. They had spent some time down at the bumper-car track located in a nearby amusement park, practicing their driving techniques.
A woman who lives in Oakville, Ont., often drives to nearby Toronto to shop. One morning she decided to take the Go Train into the city. It had been a while since she had last used the commuter transit system. "How much is a ticket to Toronto?" she asked the bored- looking attendant. "Two dollars." "Two dollars! The last time I bought a ticket to Toronto it was ninety cents!" "Wait till you see the tall buildings," he drawled.
Freida had not been on the ferry between the mainland and Vancouver Island since the settlement of a labour dispute boosted the ferry rates. She drove up to the toll booth and asked how much it would cost for her and her car. The price had nearly tripled! She gasped. "That's highway robbery," Freida said. The young man in the booth grinned at her and said, "No, ma'am, this close to the water it's usually called piracy."
GRAPHICS designer Tracy Turner, working on architect I. M. Pei's Fragrant Hill Hotel, just outside Peking, presented to the hotel's assistant manager a list of 25 basic tableware items needed for a Western-style banquet. Recounts Turner: "The assistant manager threw down his hat and exclaimed, 'How can you keep track of all this? We eat with two chopsticks, and when we throw a banquet, we add twenty-five more dishes, not utensils!'"
AVID campers, a couple decided to take a look at an area in Nova Scotia where they had heard a proposed campground was to be developed. They drove to St. Peters and then took an unfamiliar, unpaved road. Then they found the area where the campground was to be built and continued on the road to see where it went. After about ten kilometers, they debated whether to turn around and retrace our route. Just then they noticed a farmer and decided to ask directions. "If I keep following this road," he inquired, "where will it take me?" "Vancouver" was his laconic reply.
A FRIEND lunching at a Chinese restaurant noticed that the table had been set with forks, not chopsticks. He asked why. The waiter said chopsticks were provided only on request. "But," the man countered, "if you gave your patrons chopsticks, you wouldn't have to pay someone to wash all the forks." "True," the waiter shot back, "but we would have to hire three more people to clean up the mess."
A MAN I know accomplished a long time goal - driving the 2450-kilometer length of the Alaska Highway. In a small Alaska town near the end of his journey, he proudly boasted of his success to a service-station attendant. "I guess that makes me almost a native," he crowed. "Not hardly," replied the attendant. "A native would've had more sense."
A MAN who had just returned from a month-long, African safari walked into his favorite bar and asked for a martini. "How was your trip, Fred?" the bartender asked. "It was all right." "Only all right? You mean no elephant trampled you, no leopard jumped out of a tree, no warrior shot a poisoned dart at you?" Fred shook his head. "That's almost unbelievable. Something must have happened." "Well, my buddy Ernie had an unusual experience." "What was that?" "Let him tell you," Fred said, reaching into his pocket and removing a small box. He opened it on the bar and a man no more than eight centimeters high walked out. "Ernie," said Fred, "tell the bartender what you said to the witch doctor that made him so mad."
It was explained to a woman that her husband would have a dye injected into his veins for a test. Later, she was directed to room 322 where her husband was resting after the test. When the doctor found that he’d sent the woman to the wrong room, he went to take her to the real one. He found her outside the room in the hall, shaking her head.
“I knew you were putting dye into his veins,” she remarked, “but I didn’t think he’d change color.”
The patient in 322 was black while her husband was white.
Return to the Big Index