Sense of humour in Indonesia

Hello everyone,

Should we set out to explore Indonesian's culture through its sense of humour? Indeed, if one is planning to settle in the country, it is best to understand the cultural codes governing humour in order to avoid any faux-pas.

What is special about the sense of humour in Indonesia?

Is it acceptable to joke about any situations?

What is typically funny and what is absolutely not funny?

Are there any popular comedians in Indonesia and how would one be able to discover them (stand-up shows, festivals, internet, etc.)?

What is the funniest joke you have heard in Indonesia?

Please share your experience,


I an tell you what not to joke about - Religion of any sort.
That's a massive no no that could get you into a bit of hot water.

With some 300 distinct ethnic groups here in Indonesia, it's really impossible to discuss humor on a national level. 

That said, one ethnic group in particular, and the one which I know best, the Balinese, are well known for their acute sense of humor aside from that which Fred has already mentioned, viz, religion.

I don't think Indonesians have a sense of humor as Western Europeans have like Dave Allen. On TV silly humor with old sound effects and childish laughter. For every foreigner on TV that says something bad, a demonstration is happening. As people still believe in ghosts and bl
ack magic, there's not much left to joke about then gay people and Photoshopping someone that recently hit the news.

I find Indonesians have a tremendous sense of humor no matter where you throughout the archipelago. They may not always understand the "BULE" slang but they love to joke and have fun too.

Obviously joking about politics, religion, and cultures may be taboo anywhere you may travel, as we all must show respect for our differences.

Indonesian people are wonderful and love having fun like the rest of us.

I get people rolling around with deliberate mistakes like asking the total in a shop with, "Berapa juta?" (How many million) or telling them I can't speak Indonesian or I don't understand, but in Indonesian.
I find most Indonesians are playful and fun people with a nice humour and a sweet personality.

I think you cant compare this, asian(southeast) cultures with western. Every culture got their own way of humor. Religion!? Start again with understanding the indonesian culture.  Its NOT western. Read and learn again the customs and history and their herritage.

Well, I think, it is indeed, there is difference in sense of humour between foreigner and Indonesian. I watch Mr. Bean and Ellentube, they are really funny, refreshing, and smart, so I could differ the difference  :)

However, there is no special thing in humour in Indonesia. It is just we understand what makes the joke is funny so we laugh. However, just for suggestion for foreigner, laugh sincerely when everyone laughs and if you could, try to communicate, understand, and learn why such a thing is funny for Indonesian, so next time you could make a joke by your own  :) . Normally Indonesian would be more welcomed to someone who could laugh together with them sincerely.

And about joke, you need to read situation and atmosphere, not every moment could be used for joking. I believe in every culture, joke about race, culture, physic, religion, language or any other sensitive thing, are unacceptable. Try to make a joke, but make sure you understand it.

You could search for Raditya Dika for stand up comedy, parody, or movie. And if you understand Bahasa, he published many novels as well. I think Raditya Dika has certain style of joke which is qualified enough. Or if you like to be more 'traditional' (I don't know how to call it correctly) you could watch Opera Van Java. In that program, we have the best comedians  :D
And typically funny and not typically funny, well, every one has different sense  :)

Funniest joke in Indonesia, I have heard many things  :D:D I couldn't share it, not because I don't want to, but because the quantity of it  :D
Take care!

OK, and only as illustrative of my earlier post…this is a joke told to me years ago by one of my Balinese cousins.

“Why is it that so few Balinese have moved to America?”

The punch line is:  “Because French fries don't stick to one's forehead.”

Another one from another Balinese relative:

“Why are so many Balinese excluded from membership in top Jakarta country clubs?"

The punch line is:  Because they grew tired of cleat marks on the toilet seats.”

Sure, I have a lot more jokes…all of them told to me by Balinese and other Indonesians. 

As I mentioned earlier…the very fact that Indonesia is all about unity in diversity (some 300 distinct ethnic groups) I can only conclude that Indonesians have a great sense of humor which is not based on any sort of disrespect or inherent animosity among themselves.

Great to see you back as an Expert Roy. The Indonesian site has been void of anything resembling culture or real knowledge of Bali (and Indonesia) for many years now.