Before we start “French Laughing”, I must apologize to you.

Exceptionally, for the next 2 to 3 weeks, there will be no videos. To put it quite simply, I’ve had oral surgery, it’s not super duper attractive right now and I would prefer if you didn’t see it! Ha ha vain vain me. Anyways, videos will be back as normal mid August. My face should be fixed by then ha!

Before we dive into “l’humour français“, I need to tell you that my next French Truly Salon on Aug 10th at SIFF prompted this post. And you should come by the way, because it will be amazing:

siff-ft-la-chevre

1- The Origin & History of French Humor, visual presentation by me.

2- French hors d’oeuvre: wine from J Wines & food from La Parisienne.

3- French Movie La Chèvre, a hilarious comedy in French with English subtitles.

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L’humour français is a fairly new concept, which was first mentioned by Voltaire in 1761…

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The English word “humour” is both a word and concept foreign to the French. Don’t believe me?

1- La déclaration de Voltaire

”Les Anglais ont un terme pour signifier cette plaisanterie, ce vrai comique, cette gaieté, cette urbanité, ces saillies qui échappent à un homme sans qu’il s’en doute, et ils rendent cette idée par le mot ‘humeur’, ‘humour’, qu’il prononcent ‘Yumour’.”

In English:

The English have a term to signify this joke, this true comic, this gaiety, this politeness, these projections that escape a man without him realizing, and they express this idea with the word ‘humeur’, ‘humour’, which they pronounce “Yumour’.

(The French word humeur means mood)

But WAIT!

Didn’t Voltaire have a great sense of humor?!?

Non.

Voltaire had something else. He had wit. 

2- Les citations de Voltaire

Here are a few examples of Voltaire’s wit, not humor:

“Si Dieu n’existait pas, il faudrait l’inventer.”

If God didn’t exist, he would have to be invented.

“La politique est le premier des arts et le dernier des métiers”.

Politics is the first of arts and the last of professions.

“Si on n’imprimait que l’utile, il y aurait cent fois moins de livres.”

If only the useful was printed, there would be a hundred times less books.

Not exactly Monty Python’s jokes!

3- Excerpt from the film “Ridicule”

Charles Berling, Jean Rochefort

Do you know this film? The story takes place at the court of Versailles under the reign of Louis XV.

-“Baron, comment avez-vous trouvé l’Anglais?

-Très distrayant. Ils ont une forme de conversation appelée “humour”, qui fait rire tout le monde.

-Humour… est-ce comme l’esprit?

-Non, pas vraiment.

-Mais alors comment le traduire?

-Je ne peux pas. Nous n’avons pas de mot pour ça en France.”

In English:

-Baron, how did you find the English?

-Very entertaining. They have a form of conversation called “humor”, which makes everybody laughs.

-Humor… is it like wit?

-No, not really.

– But then how to translate it?

-I cannot. We do not have a word for this in French.

4- Madame de Staël

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She was the very famous daughter of Jacques Necker, a finance minister of Louis XVI. She wrote in a speech on literature:

“La langue anglaise a crée un mot, “humour”, pour exprimer une hilarité, laquelle se trouve dans le sang autant que dans l’esprit… Ce que les Anglais décrivent avec grand talent sont des personnages bizarres, parce qu’ils en ont beaucoup parmi eux.”

In English:

The English language has created a word, “humor”, to express a hilarity, which is found in the blood as much as in the spirit… What the English describe with great talent are bizarre characters, because they have many among them.”

5- Quelle est la différence entre l’esprit et l’humour?

What is the difference between wit & humor you may ask?

Wit judges and humor does not. Humor is being able to laugh at oneself and be ok with others laughing too. There is a sense of humility in humor. Wit judges, it is more intellectual, and not humble. But oh so French! Mwahaha!

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So what do you think?

Interesting & surprising, wouldn’t you say?

Come and discover all about “l’humour français” on my next French Truly Salon on Aug 10th at SIFF.

siff-ft-la-chevre

The event will take place at the SIFF Film Center & consist of 3 steps:

1- The Origin & History of French Humor, visual presentation by me.

2- French hors d’oeuvre: wine from J Wines & food from La Parisienne.

3- French Movie La Chèvre, a hilarious comedy in French with English subtitles.

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Sign up quick, our last event was sold out! It was such a fun evening! Here are a few pics for our Bastille French Truly Salon at SIFF Film Center:

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That’s me with Clinton, our SIFF Superman!

See all this fun you’ll be having with us!

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