Joke – French

Stephanie’s French Joke

“La nouvelle institutrice a envie d’inculquer des notions de psychologie à ses élèves.

Elle s’adresse à la classe en ces termes:

– Que celui qui a l’impression d’être stupide par moment se lève !

Après une bonne dizaine de secondes, Toto se lève… de mauvaise grâce.


– Alors comme ça Toto, tu penses que de temps en temps tu peux être stupide ?

– Non m’dame, mais ça me faisait de la peine de vous voir toute seule debout.”

“A new teacher wanted to teach her students about a psychology theory.

So she said:

– Whoever thinks they’re stupid, please stand up!

After a while, Toto stands up reluctantly.

She says: So, Toto, once in a while you think you’re stupid?

Toto: No, ma’am, it just pained me to see you standing up alone.”

Stephanie went to Lycée Français La Pérouse in San Francisco for elementary school. She learned this joke at recess from her friend Victor. She thought the joke was “funny at the time because we hated our teachers so it was a way to make fun of them.” To her, the joke “means rebelling against the teacher by poking fun.” When she first heard the joke, she would tell her friends on the playground. She would tell them during a time when they were exchanging jokes.

I laughed out loud when I heard this joke. I agree with Stephanie that it is not meant as a real insult to teachers, it was just a way to poke fun. As a kid, one always wants to rebel against authority. Authority was typically schoolteachers. She and her friends at the French school in San Francisco snickered at the joke during recess. It was their way of getting back at the teachers for being overbearing authority figures.

We have separate ideas of what is funny in different cultures. Through this joke, I was able to discover that French kids in America and American kids in America have similar ideas regarding teachers as authority figures. Both groups think of teachers as annoying and people who should be made fun of. Both groups see teachers as people to rebel against.

Humor deals with unconscious repression. In polite society, we repress aggression. In front of adults, these kids would have never uttered this joke. They only mentioned it on the playground at recess because it was a secret of sorts; it was very private—for kids only. They were not supposed to “hate” their teachers or harbor angry thoughts towards them. They were supposed to repress those feelings. However, these feelings/inclinations pop up in jokes, as evidenced by the kids using this joke and laughing about it secretly at recess.