Blason Populaire Joke

The informant heard the following joke from one of her classmates in high school.

“Okay, so this one is horrible. I ask someone, ‘Do you know what Ethiopian food tastes like?’ Say, ‘No.’ And then I say, ‘Well, neither do Ethiopians.’ The joke is, because, Ethiopians don’t know what Ethiopian food tastes like because they are starved.”

The informant claims that she herself is not usually an active bearer of the joke: “You never tell it. Except right now [laughter].”

She finds the joke amusing precisely because it is so terrible: “Yeah, I think it’s a pretty bad joke . . . It’s one of those jokes where you think it’s really funny but you also know that it’s just an awful joke.”

Part of the humor value of this blason populaire joke is that it is taboo. You know that it’s awful that people are starving to death in Ethiopia, but at the same time it’s easier to laugh about it than to do anything about it. And it feels better to be amused than to be guilty for not helping.