Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Since I don’t usually get the opportunity to see a lot of my fellow countrymen while I’m in England, when I do, I usually notice a lot of things about them that I probably wouldn’t have if I saw Iranians every day of my life. So I thought maybe I could share one of these new discoveries of mine with you today.
This is something that I have noticed a lot of Iranians are very fond of. In fact with a lot of us this is actually the foundation of our whole sense of humour. I like to call it ‘Brutal Sarcasm’ and it basically goes like this: Whenever someone asks you something, in your mind you have to instantly convince yourself that this is the most ridiculous question you have ever heard in your life and then as fast as you can, come up with a very ridiculous answer of yourself. I’ll give you an example but first let me just say that I’m calling this Brutal Sarcasm because for most people there are absolutely no boundaries for when or how they use this.
Now the example, say you arrive at a friend’s place, who doesn’t live in the same city as you and he asks you, ‘Did you come by train?’ Now when you think about it, this is a perfectly normal question to ask someone and a normal person would probably answer this question with either a ‘Yes I did.’ or a ‘No I didn’t. I came by…’ filling in the dots with their chosen form of transport for that day.
However we are only saying this because we are not thinking like a person with Brutal Sarcasm. In their case, as I said before, in their mind this question instantly becomes the most ridiculous question that they have ever heard and they will answer to it with something like, ‘No I walked all the way.’
For a person who is into Brutal Sarcasm, this is a good answer however it could be a lot better as it’s not a great answer.
For example a better answer would be, ‘No I started walking but then I thought I would never get here on time so I hitchhiked the rest of the way and got a lift with a travelling salesman who tried to sell me his wife and then a group of Spanish nuns on their way to an Iron Maiden concert.’
This is a very good answer as it not only makes the first question sound ridiculous but it’s funny as well in a way and might even get a few laughs from the other people present which is always good.
Another way of doing this is to neither go for the laugh nor the obviously ridiculous answer right from the beginning but give an answer which is untrue and at the same time very believable. The fun with this type of brutal sarcasm is that it can go on for much longer than the other two types and if you are very good, you might get a much bigger laugh at the end.
Now here’s one of the ways that you could do this:
Your host, ‘So did you come by train?’
You, ‘No I drove here.’
Your host, ‘Oh really? I didn’t know you had a car.’
You, ‘No I didn’t but I bought one yesterday.’
Your host, ‘Yeah? What kind?’
And so on and so forth.
If you are very good, this can go on for a very long time until you finally convince your host to put his or her coat on and go out with you to have a look at this imaginary car that you have bought and then if you are very very good, you can stretch this even further by pretending that your car has been stolen.
Anyway the longer this goes on for, the more successful you have been as a type 3 Brutal Sarcasmist.
Now if you are interested in brutal sarcasm yourself, I have prepared a list of beginners’ instant Brutal Sarcasm remarks for you to memorise and practice with until your brain becomes fully trained in this and you can go on doing this yourself without my help.

-Would you like a drink?
-No, I would rather die of thirst.

-Would you like some fruit?
-No I’ve been working very hard on getting scurvy so please don’t spoil my chances now by giving me vitamins.

-Did you watch the game yesterday?
-No I sat in front of the television but I shot my eyes and stuck my fingers in my ears for the whole ninety minutes.

-Do you have an email address?
-No I still use carrier pigeons for getting my messages out to people.

Wednesday, 07 December 2005 2:31 PM

PS Ok so I have been told that this is not just an Iranian thing and people from other cultures are quite fond of this too. I think I know why I thought this was special to Iranians though. It’s because my friends here are usually my own age and if they start being silly like that, I can tell them to watch it but with Iranians it’s different, they are all different ages and there is always that roodarvasi as well so you can’t tell them to ‘watch it or else’ exactly and so the silliness continues ;-)


Anonymous said...

let me try:
-what brought u here?
-my feet..
not bad,hein!

linda said...

so u wouldnt like hanging out with my extended family(fatehr side) at all....
Especially that the older they get, the jokes become more familiar

Aydin said...

Great! Now that you identified and very properly named this familiar sarcasm, I am going to practice it as much as I can, so that hopefully one day I will master this art (preferably type 3)! ;)

Em said...

Shirin this is a funny post... Its similar for my culture we talk like that when we want irritate another person in a good natured way..

Shirin said...

Very good Foulla. From that I would say you were a type 1 Brutal Sarcasmist.

Oh Linda, don’t get me started on the familiar jokes thing. Some jokes just seem to hang around forever, especially the unfunny ones.

Well good luck with that Aydin. May the force of Brutal Sarcasm be with you all the way ;-)

Thanks Em, it’s always nice to hear of another culture’s way of life, especially if it’s to do with irritating others ;-)

GazanKhan said...

I hear this kind of sacasm, the worst and too cheap ones almost in every movie these days even geat actors like Robert Deniro say cheap real bad things and others too.
Seems it's like a new mode, cheap fashion, and as always artless talentless people ruin the whole thing. Like many natural words and sayings that the TV and the news papers ruined and made cheap and we can't use them any more for that very reason.
By the way do you really think it's Persian habit my dear?! I don't think so.

Shirin said...

I think you might be right Gazankhan. I will add a little something at the end of that to say it’s not just an Iranian thing.

asad said...

The people of Taiwan apparently do not understand sarcasm. I have verified this with one other person.

Shadgoli said...

I feel that I have become far more sarcastic since I've been away from Iran, and thinking about it, I can't remember people back home being so sarcastic. They call it dark humour, which very much belongs to the British, e.g. Monthy Pyton, though I personally refer to Chandler, if I'm (or someone else is) being sarcastic.

Shirin said...

Really Asad? That is seriously big news.

Shdgoli, what I’m talking about is not your normal sarcasm like the Chandler type that is actually funny (well it’s different with him really because he has a team of comedians who write his lines for him). I’m talking about the ‘artless’ form as Gazankhan put it. For example when you do it, since you are a funny person yourself, it’s actually very funny at times. But when others who are not funny by nature or have not properly understood exactly what it is that makes a sarcastic comment funny do it, it’s just so unfunny and quite painful actually at times.

Anonymous said...

actually I must be iranian then:when I visit home, or relatives, they all ask me this, its really ridiculous, because , of course I take the airplane to go to another european country. but I simply say by shotor, because its one of those cheap ones, like ryanair and it took me ages to get there (too much to say, first walked to station, then the nat-express,then airplaine, then train, then a taxi...)maybe its more being to lazy to give the straight answer is iranian, or wanting to make things more interesting? ive noticed iranians being cynical sometimes too, but doing this with british can offend them because they feel being laughed at. Marieh

Shirin said...

From what I can gather Marieh, Shotor might actually be the only form of transport that you do not use when you go to visit your relatives. Still I think you should stick to saying what you are saying because even travelling on the back of a camel is much classier than travelling with Ryanair. So in your case, it’s more you being a show-off rather than having a case of Brutal Sarcasm.
Welcome by the way :-)