Author Archives: Leila Majlessi

Persian Roof Proverb

  1. They go so far up the roof they fall back. 
  2. When someone goes too far into something or pushes themselves too far, it ends up being more counterintuitive than helpful to their initial goal. 


The speaker presented this when discussing a conversation they had with their mom, bringing this up believing it to be a humorous moment. The discussion that the speaker had with their mom was about veganism, which prompted the speaker’s mother to respond to the explanation of veganism with this proverb, which while a persian proverb, was performed in English.

The performance was done in a manner of telling the story about this conversation with the speaker’s mother, wanting to make a point about how the mother’s response to veganism was humorous, since it was so negative. 

Personal Thoughts:

This piece is quite interesting as it is not only a humorous proverb to use in the context of veganism, clearly showing how when used in this specific context, it is meant to show how the speaker’s mother believes that some vegan practices may go too far. Culturally, many Persian cuisines are meat-based and also, food is a highly important part of Persian culture, as it can be representative of many different things. While in the West it is common to have “vegan alternatives”, that may not be the case for other cultures and the way something is made and what types of food is presented in the dish is highly important, thus it would be understood why some vegan practices may prompt this kind of response. 

Shart Proverb

  1. (laughter) He thinks h…his shart is so good and smell that he sits in front of the wind. (more laughter)
  2. When one believes in their ridiculousness so much they will attempt to pass it on to others. 


The speaker had fun with this proverb when sharing it out loud, sharing it both as a way to be informative of what a Persian proverb can look like, but also laughing at how ridiculous it is. The closest translation that the speaker found (with help from their family who was present) was the word “shart”, which is what the speaker used when performing this proverb. The family of the speaker laughed at this proverb, finding the proverb itself funny and finding it also funny hearing it come from this specific speaker, who is much older and would not normally know the word “shart”. 

Personal Thoughts:

I find this to be a really fun proverb that I learned about, mainly because it is a very unexpected one to hear that has a profound meaning. While there is humor in the phrasing of the proverb, the main idea of how one can believe their own foolishness to great lengths that they would want to sit in it and spread it to others is something that can be globally understood. Proverbs, especially ones that have more humorous or exaggerated phrasing are very interesting in that they can relate to many greater ideas, and while this may be funny to hear even in context of a conversation, there is still something to be said about why it is important, particularly in Perisan culture. One can gather from this that there is cultural significance with humility and there it is highly regarded to be humble, rather than foolishly believe solely one’s own beliefs.  It should also be noted that Western notions of the Middle East tend to depict these cultures as very reserved and conservative, which this proverb shows the exact opposite of, using crude language to make a point about a larger matter, thus not only revealing cultural significance but also subverting Western stereotypes. 

Proverb About Confusion

  1. His head is playing with his butt. (small laughter) 
  2. When someone is very confused and does something different than what they were supposed to do. 


This performance took place during a family get together, where the speaker was discussing how when someone does something ridiculous or is confused, this Persian proverb would be likely said. This was said in a light-hearted manner, as shown with the small laughter that ensued right after. 

Personal Thoughts:

While short, this is a very interesting proverb that is said in Persian culture. Often, when a person’s “butt” is referenced, it is done in a humorous manner, both in Western culture, and evidently in Persian culture as well. There is comedy to be found in how someone acts, almost as if they were “the butt of the joke”. Thus, it is clear that this specific proverb is making a point about how when someone is confused, their head, something frequently associated with logic, is working with their “butt”, something that this proverb is associating with confusion and humor, not only revealing the juxtaposition seen with the two but also what transpires when these two are together, which in this case is acting in a confused way. 

Penguin Joke

“Where do penguins like to store their money?” 

“ Where?” 

“Snow banks” 



The speaker was surrounded by their family and as everyone was going around sharing different jokes to make each other laugh, the speaker decided to share this one, which led to laughter in the room. 

Personal Thoughts:

This is a joke that uses a similar structure to many jokes in Western culture, leaning into the idea of “puns”. The speaker has a clear understanding of where this joke will go, and the audience may as well, as the punchline leads to an “Ohhh” reaction from the audience. However, what makes this joke effective in how it is passed along is that it is a fairly easy joke to remember, at least in an English-speaking context. There is a clear throughline, connecting money to penguins with the “snow banks” pun. This also follows the structure of Western jokes, with a set-up and punchline, as well as a call-and-response interaction with the audience. This specific joke, as well as jokes similar, are thus often passed around as audience members who interact with the joke can then pass it on themselves, leading to multiplicity and variation of this joke. 

Smart Enemy Proverb

It’s better to have a….. (pause) smart enemy, than a dumb friend. 


The speaker was sharing to their family-friends at a get-together about a proverb that they had heard. The pause in the middle took place as the speaker tried to remember the exact wording of the phrase, before finally remembering. 

Personal Thoughts:

This proverb is quite interesting as it makes a point about relationships and how one should view the people around them. While it is unclear what culture this proverb is typically passed around, it can be viewed in a Western perspective on how relationships are prioritized. Often, in Western society, life and success is viewed in a very self-serving manner. What is best for me? How can I get myself to succeed and be on top? If we use that lens to understand this proverb, one can gather that this is making a point of a smart enemy that can be more respected, as they understand what it means to be self-servicing and doing the best for themselves. While with a “dumb friend”, they may be an ally, but they do not fit into the ideals of what a capitalist society would want, thus making it the weaker option to the “smart enemy”.  While there could be many interpretations of this proverb, it is interesting to see how this would be interpreted in a Western, capitalist society.