I was watching Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens in a theatre here in Taiwan, and there were many instances were I laughed while the rest of the packed theatre remained silent. This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced this watching a movie here. With Pitch Perfect 2, I was laughing my a** off pretty much the whole movie whereas the theatre remained relatively silent during all bud the physical comedy scenes. I think at one point, the woman in front of me turned around and gave me a look, like: shut up, we’re watching a movie!
I’m told the comedy shows here rely a lot on slapstick, although I haven’t watched enough to actually say if this is true or not. And certainly even if I did watch a lot of Taiwanese sitcoms or comedies that used verbal humor, I probably wouldn’t get many of the jokes. After all, many things are lost in translation. Or they’re culturally based.
In The Force Awakens, I laughed a lot at things Finn said and did (for example, when he takes Rey’s hand, and she’s like “DUDE LET GO OF MY HAND I CAN RUN BY MYSELF”). I don’t know if, during instances like this, there was laughter in American cinemas, but I imagine so. And during Pitch Perfect 2, I suppose so many of the jokes were quite specific to college culture and stereotypes in the U.S. that you kind of have to know it to find it funny. Also feminist jokes. I don’t know what the state of feminism is like here, so I don’t know if stuff like that is funny.
I tried to teach my kids sarcasm. One student didn’t do his homework, and I said: “Thank you so much Max for doing your homework!” They could all tell my tone was altered, but I went on to explain why this was sarcasm (it’s the opposite of what he actually did) and that they could make sarcastic jokes about me if they wanted to try it out. One student raised his hand and said: “Thank you Teacher for being mean and ugly.” It was a good attempt, but I tried to explain that that isn’t really funny because (it’s TRUE! and) you would never thank someone for being those qualities, so it wasn’t really the opposite.
But, I am a teacher. So I will continue trying to teach them sarcasm until they get it.