Taylor: Bizarre French humor
The Germans are the world's least funny people. We know this because Badoo.com, which claims to be the world's largest Internet social network, asked 30,000 people in 15 countries which people they thought were the funniest. They said Americans are the world's humor superpower; Germans are at the very bottom of the list. They're not funny at all. Mark Twain thought the same thing. He said "a German joke is no laughing matter." The French wound up as the world's fifth-funniest people, behind America, Spain, Italy and Brazil.
However, the poll was conducted before President Nicolas Sarkozy's 15-year-old son opened a window in the Elysee Palace the other week and threw a tomato at a policewoman patrolling on the street outside. Sarkozy himself had to meet with the policewoman and apologize for his son's behavior.
Had the kid tossed the tomato before Badoo took its poll, France might have at least topped Brazil in the rankings.
If not the palace tomato attack, certainly the latest goings-on with Dominique Strauss-Kahn would have been enough to get the French higher up on the funniest nations list. You remember Strauss-Kahn, the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York City? He was back in the news again, being questioned this time by French police who think that he may have been involved in procuring a handful of hookers for an orgy at a hotel in Lille, France, with some of his pals.
One of Strauss-Kahn's lawyers says that although his client certainly participated in the orgy, he was "blissfully unaware" that anyone involved could have been a prostitute.
To prove the point, the lawyer says that Strauss-Kahn "could easily not have known, because as you can imagine, at these kinds of parties people are not always dressed, and I challenge you to distinguish a naked prostitute from any other naked woman." The French police seem stymied by the challenge.
Is this all just buffoonery, or a brilliant legal maneuver that will get the former IMF head off the hook? It's uniquely French. Bizarre, of course, but very entertaining.
Truman Taylor is a Brockton, Mass.-based essayist and former television news anchorman. He may be reached at TrumanBTaylor@aol.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.