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The best European jokes about the British

Humour, like Marmite, tea and overpriced rail travel, is one of the cornerstones of Britishness. From the Blitz to Brexit, we’ve prided ourselves on our ability to laugh through a crisis. But as our preparations for leaving the EU unravel faster than a pound-shop sweater, we’re faced with the sobering realisation that we may now be the butt of the joke.

Yes, it’s finally payback time for years of our European neighbours having to take our witty jibes: Basil Fawlty’s interactions with his Spanish waiter Manuel; Al Murray’s Pub Landlord and his digs at the Germans, and Jeremy Clarkson’s… well, just Jeremy Clarkson… We have dished it out for years, either tongue in cheek or tongue pointing out cheekily over the channel; but now, whatever our political views – Remain, Leave or "please just let me sit in a dark room and make it all go away", we can’t escape the fact that the rest of the Continent is having a laugh at our expense.

But, then, perhaps, they’ve been laughing at us for years, and we just haven’t noticed? Perhaps – shock, horror – we’re that kid at school who always wondered why the room went so quiet when he came in…

So, what is so funny about us Brits? Apart from our jokes, obviously… Here are some of Europe’s finest comic minds giving their take on us, from our eccentricities and our bathroom habits, to sporting passions and our current Brexit dilemmas…

Germany’s Henning Wehn on Britain’s passion for swearing:

Henning Wehn

“With stand-up in Britain what you have to do is bloody swearing. In Germany, we don’t have to swear. Reason being, things work.”

French phenomenon Marcel Lucont on English cuisine:

“What is black and white and red all over? An English steak hideously overcooked and ruined further by the addition of ketchup and mayonnaise.”

Irish stand-up Andrew Maxwell cuts to the chase on our grasp of geography:

“Number one, it's not the Irish border, it's the British border in Ireland. The Irish border is the beach.”

Finnish comedian Ismo Leikola on pub toilets:

“Why on earth do the cubicles open inwards? The door is banging against the toilet seat and it's really tricky to get in and out. So a local guy told me, ‘well, stupid, so that when the lock is broken, you can with your other hand hold the door like this’… Then I said, ‘We in Finland have it different; in our country they open outwards, and then if the lock is broken, someone comes and fixes the bloody lock!’”

Stand-up Steve Hili from Malta (I suppose that make him a Malt-teaser):

Marcel Lucont

“Theresa May to the Tories – ‘We must unite or history will judge us.’
Tories – ‘But you told us we were taking back sovereignty of our own courts!'”

Ireland’s great playwright George Bernard Shaw on cricket:

“The English are not a very spiritual people, so they invented cricket to give them some idea of eternity.”

Traditional French joke:

“A plane crashes on a desert island. There are only a few survivors: three Spanish people, three French people and an Englishman. Six months later: one of the Spanish men has killed the other and is now living with the Spanish woman, the three French people have decided to become a threesome and the Englishman is still waiting to be introduced to the others.”

German stand-up Christian Schulte-Loh @germancomedian find allies in high places:

“I’m not afraid of Brexit – they can’t kick all the Germans out of the UK. That would mean the Royal Family would have to leave too. I would like to be on that ferry!”

And finally, this one came from my wife, who’s Swedish (thanks darling):

“What do you call a good-looking guy in Britain? A tourist.”

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