Venezuelans are willing to poke fun at their country's reputation for underhanded business deals: "One of the delegates at a United Nations conference asks, `Would someone please give me an honest opinion about why there's such a scarcity of meat throughout the world?' The African delegate asks, `What's meat?' The American asks, `What's scarcity?' The Cuban asks, `What's an opinion?' And the Venezuelan asks, `What's honest?'"
Nicaraguans can giggle at their own language problems: "A Nicaraguan driver is pulled over by a highway patrolman for speeding on I-95. `Do you have any idea how fast you were going?' the cop asks. `Yeah, I was going 95 miles per hour, the speed limit,' the Nica answers. `No, you dummy. That wasn't the speed limit, that was the name of the highway -- I-95.' `Oh,' replies the driver, `you should have seen me on 836.'"
Enrique Hubbard, consul general for Mexico and an accomplished jokester consulted by New Times, believes that type of self-effacing humor is typical. "The Latin American looks at himself critically," Hubbard says good-naturedly from his Coral Gables office. "At the same time he's making the joke, there's a grain of truth. It's not aggressiveness, not meant to offend. People of all nationalities like for you to tell the jokes. It's socially acceptable. So when you go to a social function, you prepare. You try to think of all the jokes pertaining to all the countries. I know I do."
That sounds definitive, and reassuring. Here, then, is one for your next function, Senor Hubbard:
The Mexican government wants to launch its own space program and advertises for an astronaut who would fly to the moon -- and live there permanently. Three applications arrive: from a Frenchman, a German, and a Mexican. Each applicant, however, attaches a demand. The Frenchman wants a million dollars so his family can survive after he blasts off. The German demands two million. The Mexican asks for three million.
At a press conference the next day, officials announce they've chosen their fellow countryman. "Why you, who demanded the most money?" a journalist asks the new astronaut. "Well, my family is only getting one million," he replies, "because I had to bribe the government with one million so they'd give me the job, and I paid the other million to the Frenchman so he'd go in my place."
Rim shot, please.
Punch line: "But be careful not to add too much bullshit, because then you'll get a Cuban."
Punch line: "Hey, I'm gonna use the chair, too, but not until it's fixed."
Punch line: "Perch him on top of his ego and push him off."
Punch line: "We're so hungry that if I'd taught him that those are huevos, he would have eaten them.