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Old 02-16-2008, 04:12 PM
 
Location: Home is where the heart is
15,400 posts, read 25,817,519 times
Reputation: 18992

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When I moved here from California I had to learn a new sense of humor. I knew mostly surfer jokes. And California take a humorous pride in being "out there" and "wierd." That kind of humor just earned me blank stares in Virginia (or, at least in Loudoun County. Things are different the closer you get to DC.)

Yes, believe it or not Virginians do have a sense of humor. It's reserved and it's subtle... but after you've been here awhile it really grows on you. So for the benefit of newcomers to our fine state, let's try to define what makes up a Virginia sense of humor.

Here are a few of my observations:

1. Irony is big here. "In" jokes that depend on know certain details about certain people are very big. Political humor is big, especially if it is witty, Jay Leno's brand of humor does very well here. So does Jon Stewart's.

2. Humor must be respectful of the "victim" in the joke. You can rip someone to shreds but you have to add an ending that adds a witty, positive twist.

3. Try to tone down the emotion. Aggressive humor is a turn off here (at least in my part of town). If you tell a story about a situation that makes you angry, don't have anger in your voice. And whatever you do, don't whine! Woody Allen's whiney neurotic humor really bombs here. Instead, be aloof--ironic--above it all. Roll your eyes a lot. If you've ever seen "Fraiser" the kind of jokes he tells do well here.

4. Bathroom jokes, sexist jokes, racist jokes, etc. will fall flat. I think it's because we are so near to DC. Every year the news stations show 4-5 people who suddenly find their political careers ruined because they were caught laughing at inappropriate humor. It makes people think.

5. Puns and tall tales go over well here. People considered "very funny" around here always seem to have a witty surprise twist at the end of a story.

6. I've also noticed sound effects and imitations do well here. I have a rather long joke about dog parks. When I tell it here I add lots of imitations of the ways various dogs bark--and it's a smash hit because of the imitations. When I tell it in Long Island people find my imitations of dog barking annoying--to them, it just makes a long joke even longer. Be careful with imitations, though. You are better off imitating animals and inanimate objects than people. If you imitate a person, be sure you add something at the end that shows that person respect.

7. Self-deprecating humor is popular here, although remember to keep it light. I think it's the respect issue again. People won't laugh if you put yourself down too much or act depressed or like you're a loser. Around here people find confidence very attractive. People will laugh along with you if you show yourself some respect. Try to add a surprise twist at the end that gives a reason why the detail about yourself that you just made fun of could also be seen as a benefit. Whenever I would slip into my old "beach" humor I would laugh and make self-deprecating jokes about being from California. Worked every time.
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Old 02-16-2008, 05:39 PM
 
846 posts, read 3,060,914 times
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Wow, you've really studied this. How do things change as you get closer to the city?
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Old 02-16-2008, 06:13 PM
 
43 posts, read 223,760 times
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You know you are from Virginia if...
  • Speed limits are just suggestions
  • You have at least two friends who have no idea what their relatives do...because its "top secret" government work
  • Most of your senior class wend to Mason, JMU, Tech, VCU or UVA
  • When people ask where you're from, you tell them DC because its easier to explain
  • You've never told someone you're from Virginia without putting "northern," "central," or "southern" in front of it (See above.)
  • It's not actually tailgating unless your bumper is touching the car in front of you.
  • You know yellow light means at least 5 more cars can get through. (Yeah, man...at least. Probably also happens everywhere else.) A red light means 2 more can.
  • You actually know what the black boxes at stoplights are for.
  • Despite the fact that Virginia fought for the south in the Civil War, you are not, under any circumstances, a "southerner"
  • You are amused by visiting relatives who are actually excited to see Washington, DC
  • You took a field trip to Williamsburg as a kid
  • You are amazed when you go out of town and the people at McDonalds speak English
  • You or someone in your family has a Smart Tag
  • An inch of snow and you miss 3 days of school
  • All the potholes just add a little excitement to your driving experience
  • Crown Victoria = undercover cop
  • Subway is a fast food place. The transportation system is known as Metro, and only Metro.
  • They just tore down the old farm house across the street and put 12 new McMansions in its place
  • For the cost of your house, you could own a small town in Iowa
  • If you stay on the same road long enough, it will eventually have three new names.
  • You have to dial the area code to call your neighbor
  • "Vacation" means spending a day at King's Dominion or Busch Gardens.
  • "Going to the River" means any stream with water.
  • You have never been served tea without the waitress asking "sweet or unsweetened?"
  • Your favorite past time is telling West Virginia jokes.
  • Anyone who can't trace his or her ancestry back to at least four generations in Virginia is an outsider.
  • "Going to the beach" means going to Virginia Beach, Hatteras, or Nags Head.
  • You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends from Virginia.
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Old 02-16-2008, 06:37 PM
 
2,675 posts, read 4,534,236 times
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Interesting post. However, I would like to add, re:

4. Bathroom jokes, sexist jokes, racist jokes, etc. will fall flat. I think it's because we are so near to DC. Every year the news stations show 4-5 people who suddenly find their political careers ruined because they were caught laughing at inappropriate humor. It makes people think.

many of us are offended by this type of joke, regardless of careers. I'd like to think that you don't hear these as much because most Virginians don't have racist and sexist attitudes and/or are polite enough to not want to be offensive to others.
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Old 02-16-2008, 08:46 PM
 
4,711 posts, read 10,889,243 times
Reputation: 3774
I'm Polish and LOVE a good Polish joke....but alas, most people have lost the ability to laugh at one's self.

There are so, so many things that one can't say out loud anymore. And then people wonder why folks are aloof and seemingly unfriendly...hell, they're AFRAID to say anything!

Last edited by car54; 02-16-2008 at 09:03 PM..
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Old 02-16-2008, 11:53 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia
1,320 posts, read 2,744,944 times
Reputation: 1459
Quote:
Anyone who can't trace his or her ancestry back to at least four generations in Virginia is an outsider.
Ha. I'm a West Virginian and I can do that. There's some West Virginia humor for you.
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Old 02-17-2008, 10:13 AM
 
Location: Home is where the heart is
15,400 posts, read 25,817,519 times
Reputation: 18992
Quote:
Originally Posted by ACWhite View Post
Interesting post. However, I would like to add, re:

4. Bathroom jokes, sexist jokes, racist jokes, etc. will fall flat. I think it's because we are so near to DC. Every year the news stations show 4-5 people who suddenly find their political careers ruined because they were caught laughing at inappropriate humor. It makes people think.

many of us are offended by this type of joke, regardless of careers. I'd like to think that you don't hear these as much because most Virginians don't have racist and sexist attitudes and/or are polite enough to not want to be offensive to others.
Nice response--I absolutely agree, and that deserves a rep point.
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Old 02-17-2008, 10:18 AM
 
Location: Home is where the heart is
15,400 posts, read 25,817,519 times
Reputation: 18992
Quote:
Originally Posted by vanyali View Post
Wow, you've really studied this. How do things change as you get closer to the city?
I think you can get away with a more aggressive "in your face" humor the closer you get to the city. And, the closer in suburbs have more transitional people who move here from all over the country for just a year or two. People who live here for just a short time are more likely to keep the idea of what's funny that they developed back home, so that widens the humor spectrum.
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Old 02-17-2008, 10:27 AM
 
Location: Home is where the heart is
15,400 posts, read 25,817,519 times
Reputation: 18992
When in doubt, jokes about beaurocracy, paperwork, and the daily absurdity of working for the government always seem to go over well.

So do good natured jokes about animals and kids. If you really want to rip something to shreds tell a joke about the traffic or the mixing bowl.

BTW, people in Virginia relax and become much more genuinely friendly after they get to know you. It may take a little while, though.
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Old 02-17-2008, 07:19 PM
 
1,604 posts, read 3,501,560 times
Reputation: 1526
Quote:
Originally Posted by normie
1. Irony is big here. "In" jokes that depend on know certain details about certain people are very big. Political humor is big, especially if it is witty, Jay Leno's brand of humor does very well here. So does Jon Stewart's.
This is definitely the truth! I remember being 14 years old laughing at Jay Leno's political jokes and being a Jon Stewart fan when he first got on the Daily Show in 1998. It was sort of lame when my peers didn't understand what, or even in some cases, who I was taking about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ACWhite View Post
Interesting post. However, I would like to add, re:
4. Bathroom jokes, sexist jokes, racist jokes, etc. will fall flat. I think it's because we are so near to DC. Every year the news stations show 4-5 people who suddenly find their political careers ruined because they were caught laughing at inappropriate humor. It makes people think.

many of us are offended by this type of joke, regardless of careers. I'd like to think that you don't hear these as much because most Virginians don't have racist and sexist attitudes and/or are polite enough to not want to be offensive to others.
Indeed. Virginians, including those outside NoVA, tend to have a progressive (or at least indiscriminate) attitude, at least when compared with a lot of people from the Atlantic Northeast, including its neighbor to the north. Don't believe me, compare the Democratic Primary Results between Virginia and Maryland (including the young vote).
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