When is a Joke Not a Joke

A few days ago we attended a Travel Show. It was quite crowded and I stopped for a moment, unable to move because of the people in front of me. A man behind me directed this comment to me; “I bet they’re having a hard time selling tickets.” He had a smile on his face as he said this. I looked at the booth he was referring to. It was Malaysian Airlines. From his tone and facial expression I could tell he thought he was being funny and that I would enjoy his joke. But it wasn’t a joke. It was poor taste. I told him my heart went out to the airlines and everyone involved. He walked away.


When is a joke not a joke? When it belittles or ridicules another, whether it is a culture, ethnic group, or individual trait. When in doubt whether to pass on a joke, ask yourself if you would tell this joke if a person of that culture/ethnic group/disability/ was part of your audience. If the answer is no, that they might be offended or if the joke was at their expense, then you have your answer.


I enjoy jokes. Laughing is good for us. I appreciate a person who can make me laugh ’till I cry by simply being funny. No insults. No crudeness. No offensiveness. Now that’s real humour.


I hope you laugh often. Heartily.


About etiquetteottawa

Founder and Owner of the Protocol School Of Ottawa
This entry was posted in Commentary, Tips and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to When is a Joke Not a Joke

  1. karenhickman says:

    So true, Suzanne. I have always considered humor at the expense of others as cheap humor. Real humor requires some intelligence. Great post!

    • I appreciate your comments Karen.
      We can all think of professional comedians who obtain their laughs by “zinging” other celebrities. Not a real talent.If it hurts someone else, how can it be considered funny?
      Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s