11 Comedy Tourist Destinations of 2011

It’s been almost a year since I first invited the readers of Splitsider to join me in asking “what is the deal with international comedy?” Thusly, we embarked, you the reader and I, on a cross-cultural odyssey into the literal world of humor. We found trends. We found traditions. We found ourselves, if you think about it (don’t). Because I wanted to do a 2011 retrospective but can hardly choose a favorite child, I opted to select a rather subjective cross-section of countries. Think of it as a world comedy mood board, rather than a countdown.

While the year might be drawing to a close, the tour is only beginning. If there’s a destination or culture about whose humor you are dying to know more, share in the comments section below. Please let me take your there in 2012.

Japan: Yoshimoto and the Business of Comedy

Forget about just comedy, Yoshimoto Kogyo is one of the most powerful entertainment agencies in Japan. Take a glimpse into the old school studio system practices for comedy in the land of the rising sun.

Denmark: The Many Layers of Discomfort in Danish Humor

The people of Denmark have such a sharp sense of humor, it’s bound to poke a few holes once and a while. But when it comes to awkward, uncomfortable humor, the Danes have it down to an art. These are a few examples of the good, the bad and the ambiguous.

India and the Rest of the World: Laughter Yoga

Come for quite possibly the hottest group therapy trend in the world right now. Leave with the knowledge of fake laugh methods such as “The Motorboat” or “Stuck in an Elevator” or “Laughter Cream.”

South Africa: World’s Most Up-and-Coming Comedy Scene

Comedy has been around forever in Africa’s southernmost country, but it has only existed as a proper industry for about 12 years. Now comedy as an institution seems bound for greatness with a growing underground stand-up scene, experimental television shows and comedy awards. However, many emerging subcultures still seem relegated to their cultural lines.

The World: The Myth of Universal Humor

Everyone laughs, but is that as universal as humor gets? I can’t say I necessarily answer that question in this piece, but I do explore various institutions and publications involved in the study of humor. If you don’t know about gelotophobia yet, this is a must-read!

Peru: A Bunch of Clowns. Literally.

Comedians are all just a bunch of clowns, but in the case of Peru, many comedic performers are actually clowns.

Libya: Did You Mean Lesbian Comedians?

Before Qaddafi was killed, or war had fully broken out in Libya, I wanted to learn more about Libyan humor – mainly if it even existed. Google did not make it any easier for me when it kept asking did I mean lesbian comedians. This is what I found.

Bhutan: More Than Just a Big, Wooden Phallus

This small Himalayan nation is the only country in the world to measure annual Gross Domestic Happiness. Their cultural seclusion from the rest of the world might help preserve nationwide serenity. Television was only legalized right before the turn of this century. What role does comedy play here? It starts with a holy clown carrying a big phallus.

Egypt: The Jokes Were Written on the Wall the Whole Time

Egypt has a long tradition of satire and political jokes, dating all the way back to the pyramids.

Germany to Chile to Israel: The International Franchises of the Office

NBC was not the only network to remake UK sitcom the Office. Apparently boring white-collar workplaces are universal in the developed world. A look at the successes and failures of Office remakes around the world.

Gabrovo, Bulgaria: Comedy Capital of the World

The town of Gabrovo went from being a punchline to a destination for punchlines. Years after the ultimate rebrand, though, Gabrovo has fallen on harder times and its legacy of humor is in danger of becoming a relic.

Laura Turner Garrison sometimes writes commercials, she sometimes writes comedy, but she always rights wrongs.

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