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Are You Being Funny? How to Tell Jokes in Chinese

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Chinese and Western humour can often be quite different. Whilst Western humour is often based on sarcasm, Chinese jokes may sometimes be described as ‘black humour’. When it comes to TV and movies, slapstick is a popular choice, as well as short skits.

Since Chinese jokes often rely heavily on linguistics, it may sometimes be difficult for non-natives to ‘get’ a joke, and the same can be said of English jokes for a Chinese native. Sometimes things just get lost in translation! Similarly to how sarcasm is used in the west, jokes in Chinese will sometimes be described as a ‘cold’ joke. This is a joke that is so bad, it’s not really funny…

Traditionally, the most common type of humour in China was ‘crosstalk’, a type of stand up between two people. You can see an example of crosstalk in the video below. Although they speak quite slowly, you can also turn on the English subtitles and follow along!

Continue reading to learn some Chinese vocabulary for joking and tricks. If you want to make your Chinese friends laugh, why not learn how to say some Chinese jokes?

Joke Vocabulary

愚人节快乐! (yú rén jié kuài lè) April fool!

愚人节 (yú rén jié) April Fool’s Day

玩笑 (wán xiào) to joke

笑料 (xiào liào) laughing stock

恶作剧 (è zuò jù) mischief/mischievous/practical joke/prank

开玩笑 (kāi wán xiào) to play a joke/to make fun of/to joke

捉弄 (zhuō nòng) to make a fool out of someone

小丑 (xiǎo chǒu) clown

相声 (xiàng) sheng cross talk / sketch

小品 (xiǎo pǐn) sketch show

冷笑话 (lěng xiào huà) ‘cold joke’ joke intended to be so corny it makes one groan

魔术师 (mó shù shī) magician

魔术棒 (mó shù bàng) magic wand

纸牌魔术 (zhǐ pái mó shù) Card trick

杂耍 (zá shuǎ) sideshow performance

戏法 (xì fǎ) magic trick

错觉 (cuò jué) optical illusion

幻觉 (huàn jué) magical illusion

Chinese Jokes

The Blind Crab

螃蟹出门散步不小心撞到了小鱼

(páng xiè chū mén sàn bù bù xiǎo xīn zhuàng dào le xiǎo yú)

小鱼很生气:“你是不是瞎啊?”

(xiǎo yú hěn shēng qì: “nǐ shì bú shì xiā ā?”)

螃蟹很委屈:“不是啊,我是螃蟹!”

(páng xiè hěn wěi qū: bú shì ā, wǒ shì páng xiè!”)

The crab went out for a walk and knocked down a fish,

The little fish was very angry and asked: “are you blind?”

The crab felt wronged and replied: “no, I am a crab!”

This joke plays on the similar sounds of (xiā), meaning ‘shrimp’ and 瞎 (xiā) meaning ‘blind’.

The Communications Deer

小熊对小兔说:“我要给猴子打电话,但是不知道她的号码。”

(xiǎo xióng duì xiǎo tù shuō: “wǒ yào gěi hóu zi dǎ diàn huà, dàn shì bù zhī dao tā de hào mǎ.”)

小兔说:“你去问小鹿吧!”

(xiǎo tù shuō: ”nǐ qù wèn xiǎo lù ba!”)

小熊问:“为什么他会知道?”

(xiǎo xióng wèn:”wèi shén me tā huì zhī dao?”

小兔答:“因为他是通讯鹿

(xiǎo tù dá: ”yīn wèi tā shì tōng xùn lù!”)

Bear said to rabbit,”I want to call the monkey, but I do not know her number.”

Rabbit said, “you can ask deer for it!”

Bear asked, “Why would he know it?”

Rabbit answered: “Because he is the phone book”

This joke plays on the similarity between the word ‘deer’ 鹿 (lù) and the last character in the word for ‘phonebook’ 通讯录 (tōng xùn lù). Both use the same pronunciation, and so without the context, they can easily be confused.

The Panda’s Dream

熊猫今年有两个生日愿望:治好黑眼圈和照一张彩色照片

(xióng māo jīn nián yǒu liǎng gè shēng rì yuàn wàng: zhì hǎo hēi yǎn quān hé zhào yī zhāng cǎi sè zhào piàn.)

The panda has two birthday dreams this year: to cure the black rimmed eyes and have a colour photo taken.

Loyalty

一个人去宠物店想买一只小狗

(yī gè rén qù chǒng wùdiàn xiǎng mǎi yī zhī xiǎo gǒu)

这只看起很可爱。”

(“zhè zhī kàn qǐ hěn kě ài.”)

是的。”

(“shì de.”)

忠诚度怎么样?”

(“zhōng chéng dù zěn me yàng?)

还不错,反正我卖了它四次,最后它都自己回来了。”

(“hái bù cuò, fǎn zhèng wǒ mài le tā sì cì, zuì hòu tā dōu zì jǐ huí lai le.”)

A man went to a pet shop to buy a dog.

“This one looks cute.”

“Yes, it is.”

“Is it loyal?”

“Yes, I sold it 4 times, and it always came back to me”

Octopi in Love

从前有两只章鱼相爱了,然后他们牵手牵手牵手牵手牵手牵手...

(cóng qián yǒu liǎng zhī zhāng yú xiāng ài le, rán hòu tā men qiān shǒu qiān shǒu qiān shǒu qiān shǒu qiān shǒu qiān shǒu…)

Once upon a time, two octopi fall in love with each other, then they held hands, held hands, held hands, held hands, held hands, held hands….

Lion vs Turtle

狮子与乌龟准备打架,打架前乌龟对狮子说:”打架前,麻烦把你的头发扎起来!”

(shī zi yù wū guī zhǔn bèi dǎ jià, dǎ jià qián wū guī duì shī zi shuō: “dǎ jià qián, má fan bǎ nǐ de tóu fa zā qǐ lai.”)

狮子又对乌龟说:那你也要把你的包放下

(shī zi yòu duì wū guī shuō: “nà nǐ yě yào bǎ nǐ de bāo fàng xia.”)

The Lion and Turtle were getting ready to fight with each other. Before they began, the turtle said, ”Please tie your hair up.”

The lion replied, “In that case, you should take your bag off too.”

Juice

小明和草莓,西瓜,西红柿一起上街玩

(xiǎo míng hé cǎo méi, xī guā, xī hóng shì yī qǐ shàng jiē wán.)

第一个路口,西瓜被车撞了,小明说:“哈哈哈,西瓜汁!”

(dì yī gè lù kǒu, xī guā bèi chē zhuàng le, xiǎo míng shuō: “hā hā hā, xī guā zhī!”)

第二个路口,西红柿被车撞了,小明说:“哈哈哈,番茄酱!”

(dì èr gè lù kǒu, xī hóng shì bèi chē zhuàng le, xiǎo míng shuō: “hā hā hā, fān qié jiàng!”)

第三个路口,小明被车碾了,草莓说:“哈哈哈,人渣!”

(dì sān gè lù kǒu, xiǎo míng bèi chē zhuàng le, cǎo méi shuō: “hā hā hā, rén zhā.”)

Xiao Ming went out with a strawberry, a watermelon, and a tomato.

At the first intersection, the watermelon was hit by a car. Xiao Ming laughed, “ha ha ha, watermelon juice!”

At the second crossing, the tomato was hit by a car. Xiao Ming said, “ha ha ha, ketchup!”

The third intersection, Xiao Ming was hit by a car. The strawberry said: “ha ha ha, scumbag!”

The Mighty Ant

一只蚂蚁在路上看见一头大象,蚂蚁钻进土里,只有一只腿露在外面

(yī zhī mǎ yǐ zài lù shang kàn jiàn yī tóu dà xiàng, mǎ yǐ zuān jìn tǔ lǐ, zhǐ yǒu yī zhǐ tuǐ lòu zài wài mian.)

小兔子看见不解的问:”为什么把腿露在外面?”

(xiǎo tù zi kàn jiàn bù jiě de wèn: “wèi shén me bǎ tuǐ lòu zài wài mian?”)

蚂蚁说:”嘘!别出声,老子绊他一跤!”

(mǎ yǐ shuō: “xū! bié chū shēng, lǎo zi bàn tā yī jiāo!”)

An ant saw an elephant on the road. The ant burrowed into the soil, and left one leg outside.

A rabbit saw and asked curiously, “why do you have one legs outside? ”

The ant said, “Hush! Keep quiet, I will trip him over! ”

Gone Fishin’

第一天,小兔子去河边钓鱼,什么也没钓到,回家了

(dì yī tiān, xiǎo tù zi qù hé biān diào yú, shén me yě méi diào dào, huí jiā le.)

第二天,小兔子又去河边钓鱼,还是什么也没钓到,回家了

(dì èr tiān, xiǎo tù zi yòu qù hé biān diào yú, hái shì shén me yě méi diào dào, huí jiā le.)

第三天,小兔子刚到河边,一条大鱼从河里跳出来,冲着小兔子大叫:” 该死的你要是再敢用胡萝卜当鱼饵,我就扁死你!”

(dì sān tiān, xiǎo tù zi gāng dào hé biān, yī tiáo dà yú cóng hé lǐ tiào chū lái, chōng zhe xiǎo tù zi dà jiào: “gāi sǐ de nǐ yào shi zài gǎn yòng hú luó bo dāng yú ěr, wǒ jiù biǎn sǐ nǐ.”)

On the first day, the rabbit went fishing. He caught nothing and went home.

On the second day, the rabbit went fishing again. He still didn’t catch anything, so he returned home.

On the third day, the rabbit went to the river, when a big fish jumped out from the river, rushed towards the small rabbit and shouted: “Damn it, if you dare to use carrots as bait again, I will beat you to death!”

Doughnuts

小兔子蹦蹦跳跳到面包房,问:“老板,你们有没有一百个甜甜圈啊?”

(xiǎo tù zi bèng bèng tiào tiào dào miàn bāo fáng, wèn: ”lǎo bǎn, nǐ men yǒu méi yǒu yī bǎi gè tián tián quān a?”)

老板:“啊,真抱歉,没有那么多” “这样啊。。。”小兔子垂头丧气地走了

(lǎo bǎn: “ā, zhēn bào qiàn, méi yǒu nà me duō.” “zhè yàng ā…” xiǎo tù zi chuí tóu sàngqì de zǒu le.)

第二天,小兔子蹦蹦跳跳到面包房,“老板,有没有一百个甜甜圈啊?”

(dì èr tiān, xiǎo tù zi bèng bèng tiào tiào dào miàn bāo fáng, ”lǎo bǎn, yǒu méi yǒu yī bǎi gè tián tián quān a?”)

老板:“对不起,还是没有啊” “这样啊。。。”小兔子又垂头丧气地走了

(lǎo bǎn: “duì bu qǐ, hái shì méi yǒu a.” “zhè yàng ā…” xiǎo tù zi yòu chuí tóu sàng qì de zǒu le.)

第三天,小兔子蹦蹦跳跳到面包房,“老板,有没有一百个甜甜圈 啊?”

(dì sān tiān, xiǎo tù zi bèng bèng tiào tiào dào miàn bāo fáng, ”lǎo bǎn, yǒu méi yǒu yī bǎi gè tián tián quān a?”)

老板高兴的说:“有了,有了,今天我们有一百个甜甜圈了!!” 小兔子掏出钱:“太好了,我买两个!”

(lǎo bǎn gāo xìng de shuō: “yǒu le, yǒu le, jīn tiān wǒ men yǒu yī bǎi gè tián tián quān le!” xiǎo tù zi tāo chū qián: “tài hǎo le, wǒ mǎi liǎng gè.”)

A small rabbit went to the bakery and asked, “Hey shopkeeper, do you have 100 doughnuts?”

“Sorry, we do not have that many doughnuts.” The shopkeeper answered.

“All right…” The small rabbit dropped his head dejectedly and left.

On the second day, the small rabbit went to the bakery again and asked, “Hey shopkeeper, do you have 100 doughnuts?”

“Sorry, we do not have so many doughnuts.” The shopkeeper answered.

“All right…” The small rabbit dropped his head dejectedly and left.

On the third day, the small rabbit went to the bakery again and asked, “Hey shopkeeper, do you have 100 doughnuts?”

“Yes, today we have 100 doughnuts!” The shopkeeper answered happily.

The small rabbit took out his wallet and said: “Great! I want two!”

Do you know any Chinese jokes? Share them with us below!

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  • 衣皇后

    学习使人进步,到此拜读!