Advice Goddess Blog
« Previous | Home | Next »

If You Publish Humor, It's Best That It's Actually Funny
It's billed as "An irreverent guide to international travel behavior." Here's an excerpt from the LA Times piece by Thomas Swick, who's actually the South Florida Sun-Sentinel Travel Columnist:

In Europe, don't eat with one hand under the table.

In Muslim countries, don't express admiration for Danish cartoonists.

In the South Pacific, don't tell people they live in paradise.

In Cuba, don't say you hope things never change.

In Australia, don't go into a restroom marked "Sheilas" (if you're a man) or into one marked "Blokes" (if you're a woman).

In Canada, don't pretend to be Canadian.

In Germany, don't accept a beer without a head.

In Paraguay, don't say your least favorite musical instrument is the harp.

...In Scotland, don't call the people English.

In Myanmar, don't call the country Burma.

In Kazakhstan, don't mention Borat.

In Finland, don't forget to mention Conan.

In Egypt, don't walk like an Egyptian.

In Hungary, don't splash in the baths.

Yes, the LA Times actually had to "order in" to get a piece this obtuse, uninteresting, and/or obvious, and decidedly unfunny (when there are plenty of obtuse, uninteresting, obvious, and decidedly unfunny writers right on staff)...while they let actually talented J.R. Moehringer take the buyout. Bright.

P.S. Walk Like An Egyption was a hit 21 years ago. If you're that hard up for material, just know you're not a humor writer and let that be that.

Posted by aalkon at July 20, 2007 7:56 AM


This is approximately the level humor I see in the free community newspapers they throw on my driveway. I get funnier lists of this type in those dumb circulating emails, and that's not saying much, believe me.

I think most of these lists originate when some guy thinks of one funny line, and then tries to flesh it out into a whole list. The bad thing about this particular list is that the author forgot to include the one funny line. Maybe he's saving it for another column.

Posted by: kishke at July 20, 2007 9:03 AM

I think you're right -- especially about forgetting to include the one funny line.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 20, 2007 9:18 AM

I loved 'The Tender Bar.' Got sucked in and couldn't put it down. And - heh heh - if the picture on the jacket is anything to go by, J.R. Moehringer is easy on the eyes in more ways than just good reading.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at July 20, 2007 10:44 AM

In Australia, don't go into a restroom marked "Sheilas" (if you're a man) or into one marked "Blokes" (if you're a woman).

No, that's Outback Steakhouse. Which is probably as close to any foreign country as the writer of this stupid list has ever been.

In Myanmar, don't call the country Burma.

This one is appallingly ignorant. The name situation in this nation is far too complex for a one-off joke of this sort. Which this alleged journalist would know if he'd so much as read Wikipedia before penning his little opus.

I don't even know what the joke is supposed to be. Don't call the place by its old name? Don't piss off the oppressive military regime that runs the place? Be sure to use the proper English-language version of the name, making a distinction that barely exists in the local language? I don't get it.

Posted by: Gary S. at July 20, 2007 10:44 AM

Amy, you've got to stop taking potshots at the LA times.

1.) They'll never hire you if you keep this up.

2.) It's too easy. There'll always be more opportunities to do so than hours in the day; it would be a bad way to spend a young life.

3.) The LA Times isn't funny, but almost no one in the newspaper business is, so they shouldn't be faulted in particular. Newspaper people generally are lukewarm intellects and mild spirits; this explains the twitchy, panicked vanity of Romenesko & co as well as the thundering pomposity of the National Press Club. It's like expecting a good knock knock joke from a German wristwatch repairman.

Reynolds noted yesterday that in the internet age, journalism is something you do, not something you are.

Love your website.

Posted by: Crid at July 20, 2007 10:53 AM

They will never hire me until the person keeping me out of the paper dies or takes the buyout.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 20, 2007 11:33 AM

Actually, I don't want to get hired -- I just want them to run my syndicated column.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 20, 2007 11:36 AM

Well, today they finally weighed in (via the Washington Post, not in an original article of course) on the question of why movies won't mention abortions. The New York Times did this story the week after "Knocked Up" came out. How long has it been out now?

Posted by: Pat at July 20, 2007 1:30 PM

Strange about Ron Howard. The book A Beautiful Mind paints Nash as a victim of his madness, unlucky and unethical, and was dull and poorly written. The movie depicts him as One Who Overcame Adversity and omits some ugly truths. Why film lies about real people? I know the an$$$wer, but I don't like it.

Posted by: DaveG at July 21, 2007 2:58 PM

Leave a comment