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Can't get the joke 8 - above the clothes

No offense to Americans (I truly believe all racial jokes are based on biased stereotypes), but I read a joke like that:

"Why do Americans speak so loudly?

So you can hear them above their clothes."

What's the joke?

For learning: English
Base language: English
Category: Language


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    I basically agree with Grant's analysis, though I'm slightly more forgiving, I suppose. It's not *hysterically* amusing, but it's not where laughter goes to die, either. Mildly drole, perhaps.

    Let's look at it with the stereotypical American tourist in mind:

    The set-up: "Why do Americans speak so loudly?" = Americans talk _loudly_. The question purports to offer an explanation. (Perhaps we expect an answer like: Because stereotypical Americans abroad think everyone can speak some English and if you don't understand, talking at you more loudly will make it easier for you to understand. -- well, that's not funny by itself)

    The punchline: Three things are going on: 1) The answer is not what we might expect. (humor). 2) wordplay with the word "loud" (humor) 3) reinforcement of the funny stereotype the question presupposes (humor).

    "loud" clothes, as Grant explains, are overly patterned and colorful = garish, gaudy clothing. Stereotypical American tourists, particularly those on summer holiday, are thought to wear exceptionally gaudy clothing.
    loud = high volume vs. loud = gaudy. Get it? There's the connector.

    "Americans talk at too high a volume." and "Americans dress too garishly." By pretending to explain the first insult, the joke actually insults twice. 买一送二 Ha, ha, ha. :D

    It's laudable that you want to distance yourself from this as potentially hurtful and ethnically insensitive, but as an American, I find this joke rather tame and inoffensive.

    Okay, so... This isn't particularly funny. It's not even a matter of me being offended or not; I assure you I'm not. In fact, it's so inoffensive and wildly off-the-cuff that it's basically nonsense.

    The only way I can interpret this joke is by personifying the clothes. There's a perspective in English of looking at clothes like an extension of one's opinions and behaviors. "Loud clothes" are clothes that are very colorful, obnoxious, and distasteful.

    The joke appears to be saying that Americans dress so obnoxiously, colorfully, and distastefully, and therefore that our clothes are so incredibly loud, that the only way for you to hear us over our clothes is for us to shout.

    Yes. It's that terrible. I've never been of the opinion that an offensive joke can't be a funny joke. Some of the best jokes I know are so heinous and deplorable that I wouldn't even utter them in front of my closest friends unless I was TRYING to shock them. Racist jokes, despite frequently being overly generalizing, ridiculous, and tribalistic, can still be funny. And I laugh quite often at jokes that make fun of Americans. Our culture is rife with comedic potential, and a lot of comedians harness that potential quite effectively. I also consider myself a particularly funny person with a trained, yet wide-reaching, sense of humor. The genre is irrelevant, as long as the execution is good.

    I say all of this so that you understand that I'm not trying to mask some sort of distaste for the joke or that I somehow don't get it. I fully understand what they're attempting to do. But it's really not funny. At all. And it's also a pretty obscure comedic connection even for a lot of English speakers.

    I hope that this answers your question, and I also hope that you put this joke away in the deep recesses of your mind. Because it's really just impossibly crappy; it makes Carlos Mencia look like Bill Murray. It is an anti-joke. An un-joke. It is what happens when laughter dies.
    To dress in "loud" clothing means to dress in very colorful clothes - perhaps too colorful. The joke is suggesting that dressing in this manner is stereotypically American - Hawaiian shirts, patterned Bermuda shorts, neon sneakers, etc. typical of older American tourists. Nowadays, American causal dress is just as drab and indistinct as anywhere in which Western culture is dominant - blue jeans and a T-shirt that promotes some corporate logo.

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