French humor doesn’t always translate well into another culture. Even when I understand all the words, I don’t always understand why on earth someone would think the movie is funny. Case in point, I just finished watching Les Visiteurs, a movie starring Jean Reno about a medieval knight and his vassal who inadvertently time travel to modern France. The jokes about the two travelers not knowing how to conduct themselves with modern conveniences were too obvious, too slapstick.
A much more successful example of French humor is Le Diner de Cons, directed by Francis Weber. The improbable premise to this movie is a weekly “idiots’ dinner,” to which smug bourgeois invite “idiots” in order to mock them and compete for who has produced the greatest specimen. The tables are turned when one of the so-called idiots ends up demonstrating greater kindness than his host deserves.
Today’s expression, rira bien qui rira le dernier, (reara beN key reara le der-kneeay) means the same in French and in English, “he who laughs last laughs best.” This is what happens in Le Diner de Cons and I laughed from beginning to end.
- littoral (french-word-a-day.typepad.com)