Throughout the world we Irish have been revered for our poetry, our ballads, our nostalgia and most importantly of all, our love of laughter. To the untrained eye an Irish sense of humour can be a great thing. We can take a good ribbing and dish it back out tenfold, smile and laugh and tip our hats to a good joke. In a survey done by Empathy Marketing in the year 2009, it was discovered that a sense of humour was considered the number one Irish characteristic. But dig a little deeper and you can find an undertone of sensitivity and pride lurking in our laughter.
Our comedians are bestowed with the highest honour of respect a society can give, right up there with our singers and artists. We hold on to them and cherish them like they were our own, and given that everyone is related in this tiny country, they probably are. And their best comedic material? Why us of course.
We notoriously love to laugh at ourselves. Be it out of sorrow, irony or familiarity, the Irish laugh about the Irish. Haven’t you seen the shows like Mrs Browns Boys, Killinaskully, Father Ted or even the mocking Limerick duo the Rubberbandits? Or the stand-up shows like Dara O’Briain and Tommy Tiernan and the success that comes with them? When were taken the piss out of, we find it hilarious. It’s something very innate, the recognition of whatever humorous condition we have and the nonstop stream of insulting jokes about it thereafter. We just love it.
But here is where the sensitivity comes in to play. It’s only ok if we are the ones that are making the jokes – no one else. It’s an indignant and sensitive condition of the Irish. We’re allowed rip into each other because in some shape or form we’ve suffered in the same way. Be it your dog tore your washing off the line or you both lost your jobs, we find unity in humour. When our problems are made light of and we get to laugh along with millions of other people. But when another nation comes along to do the same thing, it’s out of order. It means they’re reinforcing stereotypes, we find it condescending and insulting to be labelled by traits that they know nothing about.
We’re a pretty easy going country to say the least. But we don’t like being pigeonholed by our shortcomings. We’ve had our times of darkness, our losses, our strife’s and our hardships. Our sense of humour has stemmed from that, made us a stronger and a more appreciative nation. We’ve paid our dues and now it’s time to laugh about it – but only amongst ourselves. No other state could begin to appreciate our jokes. And we won’t apologise for laughing. For if you don’t laugh then you’re going to cry, and the last thing we want is a stream of tears approaching the dole office that’ll get the stuffing kicked out of you. And its only ok if I say that, what with being Irish and familiar with the dole office. Get it now?