spanish american humor

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SPANISH-AMERICAN HUMORSee also PowerPoints on “Cisneros’ Ethnic Names,” “Ethnic Humor,” and “Spanish-American Contrastive Analysis”: 

SPANISH-AMERICAN HUMOR See also PowerPoints on 'Cisneros’ Ethnic Names,' 'Ethnic Humor,' and 'Spanish-American Contrastive Analysis' by Alleen Pace Nilsen and Don L. F. Nilsen


BILINGUAL ALLUSIONS In John Nichols’ The Milagro Beanfield War, Horsethief Shorty gives a forest ranger the following warning: 'These people wouldn’t confide in you, in that uniform, Carl, if you was Cesar Chavez, Pedro Infante, Cantinflas, and Lee Trevino all rolled into one.' (Nilsen andamp; Nilsen 145)


BILINGUAL EDUCATION One young bilingual child defined 'Bilingual Education' as follows: 'That’s when the teacher says everything twice, but you only understand it once.' (Nilsen andamp; Nilsen 146)


A BILINGUAL KNOCK-KNOCK JOKE Knock knock. Who’s there? Kelly. Kelly who? Que le importa? (Spanish for 'What’s it to you?' (Nilsen andamp; Nilsen 146)

A BILINGUAL STORYfrom Laurence Peter and Bill Dana’s The Laughter Prescription: 

A BILINGUAL STORY from Laurence Peter and Bill Dana’s The Laughter Prescription 'There was un ratoncito, a little mouse, and he was hiding in his hole in the living room. He was very frustrated, because he knew where there was some queso, some cheese. But, he heard the ‘miao’ of el gato, the cat.' (Nilsen andamp; Nilsen 146)


This was no ratoncito estupido, because he knew that gatos eat ratoncitos. So he waited until he heard 'Woof, woof,' and he knew it was el perro, the dog. He knew that perros scare away los gatos, and also that perros don’t eat ratoncitos. So he walked out and saw, no perro, pero el gato! And el gato gulped him up and said: 'iQue bueno ser bilingue!' (Nilsen andamp; Nilsen 146)


CHEECH AND CHONG Cheech and Chong (Richard Marin and Tommy Chong) have been described as the Bob and Ray of the scruffy drug culture. (Nilsen andamp; Nilsen 85)


GEORGE LOPEZ 'I liked the original Batman because the Joker was Latino—Cesar Romero—but I thought Batman should have been Mexican because that car was way too nice for a white man to be driving.' (Nilsen andamp; Nilsen 147)


MAGICAL REALISM Magical Realism is a blend of exaggeration, fables and cultureal lore that is distinctly Hispanic. It can be seen in Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima, and in Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate (Nilsen andamp; Nilsen 145)


Like Water for Chocolate gets its title from a Spanish colloquialism alluding to water that is agitated or ready to boil. Tita is the youngest of three daughters in a Mexican ranching family. She was born in a kitchen and therefore has a special affinity for food. So many tears were shed at Tita’s birth that when the tears dried there was enough salt to last the family for many years. (Nilsen andamp; Nilsen 145)


When Tita is forced to bake the wedding cake to celebrate her sister’s marriage to the man that Tita loves, Tita cries so many tears that her sorrow is baked into the wedding cake and all of the guests become ill. (Nilsen andamp; Nilsen 145)


MEXICAN CORRIDOS Because Mexican 'corridos' are about the 'corridor' between Mexico and the United States, they are very bicultural. These Corridos make allusions both to Mexican folk heroes and to American folk heroes, whether they are real (like Jimmy Hoffa), mythological (like Pecos Bill), or superheroes (like Superman). (Nilsen andamp; Nilsen 145)


!MEXICAN HUMOR Mexican humor is expressed in folk genres such as jokes, jests, and anecdotes. It is very bilingual and bicultural. Mexican proverbs are epiphenal, as in 'En boca cerrada, no entran moscas.' (Nilsen andamp; Nilsen 145)


OFFENSIVE ETHNIC HUMOR Sometimes our sensitivities change. Bill Dana used to have a character named Jose Jimenez who used a Mexican accent to tell hilarious jokes. But this offended so many people that he had to stop using this persona. The same is true about the Taco Bell spokesman who spoke with an accent.


!!JEFF VALDEZ 'My brothers’ names are Alfonso, Lorenzo, Ramon…[and me] Jeff. I guess that was right about the time my parents assimilated…right there! (Nilsen andamp; Nilsen 147)




References: Nilsen, Alleen Pace, and Don L. F. Nilsen. Encyclopedia of 20th Century American Humor. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000. Rodriguez, Clara E., ed. Latin Looks: Images of Latinas and Latinos in the U.S. Media. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1997. Tittler, Jonathan. Narrative Irony in the Contemporary Spanish-American Novel. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1984.

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