Cultural Joke

Interviewer: Do you know any folklore based on stereotypes or any jokes based on communities?


Informant: I know some jokes that I learned from my family.  I think one that would fit is a joke I heard from my mom.


Interviewer: How does it go?


Informant: Why do Mexicans make tamales for Christmas?


Interviewer: I don’t know, why?


Informant: So they can have something to unwrap.


Interviewer: That is actually really funny, I don’t think it would have the same meaning if I wasn’t Mexican.


Informant: Yeah I think it’s more relatable because my family has tamales for Christmas and it’s a big part of our celebration.


Interviewer: Yeah it was actually really funny and the first thing I thought about was how excited my dad gets around Christmas because he could honestly care less about the presents but loves tamales.


Informant: Yeah exactly.  If you weren’t Mexican it would be more like you thought it was funny because it fulfilled a stereotype but not because you actually understood the customs or the culture.


Interviewer: That’s so true! Thanks for sharing.


Background: The informant is a Junior at USC studying Non-Governmental Organizations and Social Change.  She is Mexican American and comes from a large family and extended family based in the greater Los Angeles area.  The informant is also the roommate of the interviewer and a close friend who shares many cultural traditions.


Context: This interview occurred during a lunch meal with friends where we discussed similar cultural practices.  The informant first heard this joke when at home with her family and then shared it with me.  She said her mother was the one to share the folklore and that she had heard it before from another within her community.


Analysis: At first this joke was really funny to me but then I thought about the cultural implications that went into creating the stereotype.  It was weird to see how other people thought about a given culture.  And it was interesting to analyze why it was funny to those within the group, and to me it was that people within the group are able to laugh because they are acknowledging but also counter acting the stereotype.