Old men tell cold jokes.
Japan is full of homophones. Wait, before you get all politically correct on me, I'll say it again - homophones - words that sound the same but have different meanings.
Bad joke? It's going to get much worse, in fact much "colder" as we take a look at some bad Japanese puns and how they can help you break through stony expressions, and hopefully crack a few smiles, on the faces of your Japanese friends.
Puns aren't just a simple way to get a few laughs, as we'll see, they can also be a great way to increase your vocabulary, word association and recall speeds. Many Japanese puns rely on kanji homophones, so knowing them, and knowing how words that sound the same can be written quite differently, is an aid to remembering the kanji. Other puns rely on katakana loanwords, and can provide an easy way for you to inject some of your own language in to the conversational mix.
First take a look at these two masters of Japanese humour, Ken Tanaka and Remi February on YouTube. See you if you can spot the gags that make ordinary people recoil in horror.
Did you get it? The first pun relies on the noun しょうが (ginger) and the expression しょうがない (can't be helped) for the punch line. If you don't have any ginger (しょうが ない？), it can't be helped (しょうがない).
The second pun relies on the similar sounding, English expression "Thank you" and the railway Hankyu (はんきゅう). There are other ways to do it, 三級 (sankyuu - Third grade) for example, but as you can see the comic effect is not lost on the station staff.
As I was preparing for Fast Track to Fluency last night, I asked some of my Twitter followers if they knew any classic Japanese puns and @losguysjapan was kind enough to share this clanger.
There are plenty more puns like this out there, some of which I covered with my friends on eduFire this morning. But I won't torture you with them any more, except to say this, 「お」の字をつけると、急にくさくなるところはどこだ？ (What place, when you add the character "O", gets smelly very quickly?)
Answers in the comments below please! If you have any more punny (ha ha) Japanese to share, or links to humorous sites please feel free to share them in the comments below. Thanks for visiting and don't forget to add me on twitter!