Comedy found in North Korea!
A regular comedy show has been discovered in North Korea. Yes, even in the least funny part of Asia, serious attempts are being made to generate laughs.
The finding is a major boost to this column's campaign to prove that the conventional wisdom that says Asians are not funny is untrue.
Ready for some big-time laughs?
Here we go!
The North Korean show is called "It's So Funny," and the Reuters news agency, who discovered the existence of the show, quoted some of the dialogue.
Male soldier: "I feel better and look more handsome because I have been taking medicine made from beans. If we soldiers see beans, we become happy. Ha ha ha."
Female soldier: "If we farm in the way The General tells us, we will become happy. Ha ha ha."
Are you laughing yet?
No? Smart readers will have spotted something missing.
Yes, that's right, there's no actual humour involved. That's true. But give them time. It's not easy. They've only been working on it for a couple of decades.
Now I know what you are thinking. You may have suspicions that the curious lack of humour in this humorous dialogue reveals the true purpose of the skit: to deliver the bad news: there is nothing to eat except beans.
This may be correct.
Reporters asked Kim Yong, a defector who escaped from North Korea, to make a comment about the show.
He said he heard the bean jokes before. He said: "They are still talking about beans. The country hasn't changed at all since I defected 20 years ago." (I am not making this up.)
In other words, beans have clearly dominated the menu for at least two decades.
To paraphrase Monty Python's "Spam sketch", the scene at the North Korean army canteen must be something like this.
General: "What's on the menu?"
Waitress: "You can have egg and beans; beans and egg; bacon, egg and beans; or beans, bacon, beans, egg and beans."
General: "Have you got anything without beans?"
Waitress: "Why don't you have bacon, egg and beans?"
General: "But that's got beans in it."
Waitress: "Yes, but it's got less beans than beans, bacon, beans, egg and beans."
But having said that, I can confirm that there IS genuine humour in North Korea.
It's just unintentional, that's all. For example, there used to be a magazine called North Korea Weekly, which was published once a month.
And then there are the news releases. Whenever Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il does anything in public, we're told that the forces of the universe respond. A typical line is: "A magical display of rainbows appeared spontaneously over the stage where he performed the ceremony."
What this really means is that there was a ghastly rainstorm which totally spoiled the ceremony but the guy writing it up knew that he would be executed on the spot unless he found a way to make it sound like a good thing.
But on the other hand, the North Korean comedy troupe deserves some praise. I think there should be a reward for comedians who manage to steer clear of clichés.
The "It's So Funny" team from North Korea have been joking about beans for 20 years and it's extremely likely that they haven't made a single reference to flatulence.
You must admit, that's pretty impressive.
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