Sense of humour in Spain

Hello everyone,

Should we set out to explore Spanish'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 Spain?

Is it acceptable to joke about any situations?

What is typically funny and what is absolutely not funny?

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

What is the funniest joke you have heard in Spain?

Please share your experience,


Five days without a reply.   Does that mean the Spanish have no sense of humour

Having lived here thirty years I am well aware that people requiring official documentation often need a sense of humour when it appears that the functionaries are being ‘funny' in their demands for the only piece of paper you have not brought.   Or maybe that is just the Spanish sense of humour !!!!!

Well, Generally speaking understanding jokes, often depending  upon specific cultural references or double meanings attributed to a word is above the language comprehension level of most immigrants. Furthermore delivary of punch-lines is often at a higher than normal baud-rate making the jokes harder still to understand. In my case, I get many jokes  but for others, I have to ask my wife  who is Spanish, for the interpretation. A couple of examples. The classic comedy movie, "El dia de la bestia" has a scene where the actors identify where the antichrist will be born by the resemblance between Satan's signatute and the leaning Gate of Europe towers in Madrid. Watching the movie with my wife, I didn't understand why she laughed in that scene. She told me that it was well known that Opus Dei owned the towers at that time. Another example: While visiting a Spanish friend one evening, his daughter asked her father what he thought of the dress she was wearing to go out. He immediately replied, ,"Demasiado Gibraltar" which no one understood. He then clarified with "Demasiado cerca a la línea de Concepción", to which everyone laughed. I realized that I did not fully understand the joke and my wife informed me of the Spanish town near Gibraltar with that name. Another excellent movie is "Asi en el cielo como en la tierra" in which spirits arriving to "Spanish" heaven are required to identify a Franco era military piece and San Pedro is a civil guardsman with a tricornio, the Spanish heaven is a disappointment, a post civil war town, and San Pedro points out that the French heaven is much better. If your Spanish is good enough to recognize an Argentine accent and you have knowledge that a large number of Argentines emigrated to Spain and practice their profession here, you will get the joke of the Argentine psychiatrist in the movie.

So  Spain like any other country, has excellent comedies that operate at different intellectual levels, not easy to understand completely. On the other hand  I often explain to Spaniards the humor they are missing in episodes of the Simpsons.

As a man who has spent many years creating humour I see differences, as there are in every country and region - everywhere.
Humour in Spain is I think quite childish. Simple. Like their advertising. In my experience it is better to signal that you are about to say something funny, tell them what it is about and then deliver the funny bit. A bit laborious but if you watch their 'comedy' shows you will see this is how it works.
They have an inability to skip from subject to subject with humorous overtones as the Scots and Irish manage so well. Sex and religion are taboo! But it's fine to join in if your Spanish friends start it. No sexist jokes, however mild. Feminism is a strong part of the female character in Andalucia. Same with politics. They will joke about Brexit but we cannot joke about Spanish politics. As foreigners they believe we know nothing of their political life and their fragile democracy. I never challenge this. They get so het up that I prefer to leave that particular game alone as it is definitely not worth the candle!
Are they funny? Yes in their own way but that way takes understanding and if you live here then it is an effort you must make to become part of their society.

I disagree with a lot of Writerman's comments. In my opinion, every culture offers up, to the degree permitted by government or religious institutions, humor at various levels. I think this is a quality of being human. As for the comment that Spanish humor is childish, I can only say that as an American, we also have plenty of childish humor. I don't  know where Writerman lives or who his friends are, but where I live, in Alicante, there is plenty of humor at various levels. As for political humor, unfortunately, the Spanish judicial system still has vestiges of the Franco regime, who were not removed by the transition. One local artist here, who goes by "Marisol la Roja" was fined 6000 Euros, for calling  the king emeritus an "Elephant Assassin" in a public performance. Obviously, it is best to have a filter on social media or in public forums in this situation. As for sexual humor, there certainly is plenty of that in Spain  but I wouldn't fault the Spanish for being PC, with respect to certain issues. There was nothing more nauseating to me than to listen to right wingnuts in the US making jokes about "fags". In the end, what each of us views as funny depends upon our own cultural and linguistic experiences. I can sit through a Monty Python or a Mel Brooks movie, hardly cracking a smile , but I loved the Benny Hill and Mr. Bean TV series. The jokes in the Spanish film "Airbag" were out of my league, but younger members of my family enjoyed that film. Spain is a country with a rich culture - look at the humorous situations that arise in Don Quijote de la Mancha, written 400 years ago. That hadn't changed and can't be repressed politically. When my wife and I go out with friends plenty of jokes arr exchanged. I don't  understand them all, but I learn from the explanations that my wife gives me. The important thing is there is a great variety of humor out there, it is just a matter of finding what you like.

Do Spanish do surreal or absurd? UK humour is brilliant at this.. throwing you totally off guard. UK word play humour is a real bore though.
American humour dire.... a typical joke is: no way would xyz do that...then xyz enters room doing that...hmmmm

Andyviola, not in my neck of the woods they don't. It is not part of their culture. I think the oppressive mantle of religion prevents it. They have to think in prescribed boxes as dictated by their religion. Not really helpful. The situation in major cities is different but not at all on the same level as the U.K. or France.
There is no history of comedy films or well known funny people, as there is in Britain and France and while America has its share of very good funny people the average level is, as you say, fairly dire.
Humour is individual as is art but I think the world agrees the Mona Lisa is a wonderful painting and Benny Hill, the most widely known comic in the world, had a way with slapstick comedy that transcended national barriers. Spain does not have that.

fascinating writerman

its why I need my unlimited vodafone approved asap so I can watch the wonderful uk-written comedy dramas like Killing Eve !! (fixed line internet where we moved is sadly dire)

* Spanish Sense of Humour* ---  simple / childlish

* British * ---  simply-witty / speechless, sharp, brilliant  ;)

* American * --- good / but nevertheless predictible, after all

Agtee Kittycat.

Only American comedy I ever really laughed at was Office Space (1999). Simply superb.

I have a lot of difficulty with my idea of humour when translated into Spanish. As always I can't think of a good example but imagine that they say "How are you?" and I reply "Fatter and poorer" then I find people suggest good diet plans or offer me money rather than snigger. I think a lot of British irony slips by unnoticed.

Spanish humour nowadays covers the spectrum. Some of the WhatsApp memes are remarkably clever but then go and watch Torrente 27 and people will be in stitches (There isn't Torrente 27, I think thy stopped at 6 - Spaniards would point that out to me). Just watch Hormiguero or el Intermedio any evening to see the whole spectrum.

Culebronchris wrote:

I have a lot of difficulty with my idea of humour when translated into Spanish.  imagine that they say "How are you?" and I reply "Fatter and poorer" then I find people suggest good diet plans or offer me money rather than snigger. I think a lot of British irony slips by unnoticed.

Thats did make me snigger! Their literal reaction I mean. Of course UK now has one problem...the woke community! So now its tut tut no can do if we "lower" ourself to poking fun at cultural differences like this! God know if Spitting Image would even be allowed now! Sad...

American comedy movies: 'Airplane' 1980, 'Spies Like Us' 1985
~ comedians,,
Chevy Chase,  Jack Black, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Ben Stiller..

British comedian: Eddie Izzard

Abandon hope if a joke has to be translated.. (ever)

Yes agree Lizzie anything written by Larry David.. Seinfeld and Curb your Enthusiasm. He makes incredible observational comedy such as have you noticed bald men are just not noticed e.g served last in the restaurant? I agree!

Airplane was truly groundbreaking movie comedy wise! It worked best when it stretched the truth without breaking it with the blow up doll autopilot.

I adored Ben Elton standup in the 90s as he was so naughty but in a clever way! izzard is brilliantly surreal. Talking of overdressed I actually find Boy George very witty too!

kitty not Lizzie Eddie must have thrown me haha

Culebronchris, you are spot on. Those sayings and twists of words do not compute at all in Spain. Fortunately I learned this early on.
I had had a really frustrating day trying to get my sun loungers to bits to oil them and I told my guests that evening over dinner I was pulling my hair out because of the sun loungers. From that very moment I got a lot of strange looks but I just thought it was because I was the new friend. A week later I was invited to coffee by one of the women who then told me in hushed tones she knew where I could buy a very good wig! This was a serious conversation. I then explained the meaning of what I had said to which she replied, 'I don't get. You did not pull your hair out?' I gave up.

Writerman my flabber is well and truly gasted!

As was mine! :joking:

Watching the series 'La que se avecina' can introduce you to a large segment of the Spanish humor spectrum. Additionally it will introduce you to many different personality types and socioeconomic segments in Spanish society.

Other very good series, some a bit dated are, Aqui no hay quien viva, Aida and Los Serrano.

There was a spectacular new series called Anclados but it was canceled due to some minor controversy.

Spanish humor is very varied, direct and honest. Its positive and expansive.

Comparing to some other humor that you may know, like Blackadder for example, i would say that i had more belly laughs with La que se avecina than the entirety of Blackadder, and Blackadder III is one of my favorite comedy series of all time.

Comparing with other known humor, like Seinfeld, for example, i would say that Spanish series are much more condensed Seinfelds with many more different things happening at the same time with a lot more eccentric characters who are more eccentric. 'Eccentric community' concept permeates many Spanish series, and movies.

To be honest, after getting used to Spanish humor, much of the mainstream TV / Hollywood humor feels a bit bland.

Incidentally i would rate La que se avecina seasons starting from 2-3 until a good many seasons later as the series' best periods.

' Torrente ' (1988)

' El Dia de la Bestia ' (1995) +

' La Mujer de Tu Vida ' (Spanish TVE Serie) (1990)

- The Awful Truth of Spanish Sense of Humor / Way of Life -


Humour is humour
Culture is culture
Let's not get too serious .
Accept difference
We can only do the British humour in a British setting.

Andyviola wrote:

Agtee Kittycat.

Only American comedy I ever really laughed at was Office Space (1999). Simply superb.



Kitty, Although I am not into most American humour,   I think the trump comedy shows are pretty funny.

Johncar wrote:

Kitty, Although I am not into most American humour,   I think the trump comedy shows are pretty funny.

Agree with you Johncar..

general speaking
there is always an explanation for everything..

the best  ' humour / stand-up comedy '
is merely - the Real Life itseft -

- we shouldn't forget that ,
he was chosen - by the vast majority - to represent the whole American nation -


so sad to say..
History repeats itself

laughing out loud at the beggining.. it ended up a nightmare..

sometimes you laugh.. but inside you just only really want to cry

got the picture ??


Kitty as you will know, Trump was elected by a minority

Popular vote   
Trump    62,984,828   
Clinton'. 65,853,514

Not that I really understand but it was the Electoral College votes which put him in.

Trump Electoral vote    304
Clinton 227

SOME voted him

& he, as a business man he is,

strategic cleverly sneak managed to get to the top,,


- Show Business / Entertainment -

La Vie en Rose..

Trump is not all bad but he is a man of bluster and breaks all the rules
In my humble opinion USA and uk politics is at a low ebb

whatever hapens from now on

get yall popcorn ready

the show it has just started..


I love popcorn. I am addicted to popcorn.

I once said to a Spanish dancer " I love your castanets".  She replied " adios amigo "

Johncar wrote:

Kitty as you will know, Trump was elected by a minority

Popular vote   
Trump    62,984,828   
Clinton'. 65,853,514

Not that I really understand but it was the Electoral College votes which put him in.

Trump Electoral vote    304
Clinton 227

That's because the popular vote does not decide the winner in US politics; similar to the UK where governments get elected without the majority of the vote.

One item of note, you'll notice that nobody is striving to change that system (in either country); the question you should ask yourself is why.

' Science should stop analyzing animal intelligence

   and start studying human stupidity '


Just the same as losing at Tennis despite winning more points. The games you win tend to be 40 0 but you opponent wins a few MORE games overall but by 40 30. Substitute games with states and bobs your uncle (or Trump is your leader).

Wow so true! My wife sent back (after long wait) for uk sized passport photos for Spanish driving licence....grr couldn't they trim?

Well Spanish may have a different sense of humour but boy are they happy! Teenage girls singing for 2 hours on the terrace of their
casa muy grande de su rico abuelo.

Mind you they abruptly stopped singing to watch helicopters transport huge crates of water to a nasty fire on the C31...

fiesta?.. sangria? & Spain?
you just must be joking.. lol

Hahahaha yes i forgot that even on  an early Sunday afternoon sangria will be flowing..... 🤣🤣

Trump's comedy show is indeed great. Possibly not for the Americans who are affected by his policies though...

true, though the one that made me giggle was when in a press briefing he slated someone who had quit  (and mud-slinging) in his team. I have NEVER seen that done in politics by any leader....

' Men wants Power

Women wants Attention '