Chinese Jokes: Funny One-Liners & Puns from Chinese Culture

Chinese Jokes: Funny One-Liners & Puns from Chinese Culture

6 Chinese Jokes To Tell Your Mandarin-Speaking Friends

Chinese culture is steeped in tradition and founded on unwavering principles of respect, honor, and family duty. However, like all people, Chinese individuals can appreciate a great joke. Learning a few funny Chinese one-liners is an excellent way to break down cultural barriers and personally connect with your audience.

However, you must be respectful of cultural norms when telling Chinese jokes. You should focus on Chinese puns and jokes that are widely accepted and non-controversial. With that in mind, let’s explore some of the best Chinese jokes you can tell to just about any audience. 

How to Tell Jokes in Chinese

Before you start telling jokes in Chinese, it’s important to understand Chinese humor. Generally speaking, jokes in Chinese culture are a bit more dry than in American culture. Chinese jokes are often told deadpan, meaning you should maintain an expressionless or impassive demeanor. The loud, boisterous, and often shocking approach in the United States doesn’t align with Chinese culture.

That said, telling funny Chinese jokes doesn’t require you to become a stoic. You just need to ensure your Chinese joke respects cultural norms and uses the appropriate type of delivery for your audience.

Proper Etiquette for Telling Chinese Jokes

Now, let’s get into the proper etiquette for telling Chinese jokes. Again, delivery and demeanor are paramount, so make sure you’ve got the right mindset before you go out and try to make people laugh. Here are some general rules to follow and things to avoid. 

Chinese Joke Dos

When telling Chinese jokes, make sure that you:

  • Start Simple: Don’t overcomplicate things, as you are more likely to stumble or misspeak
  • Stay Composed: Maintain a relaxed, calm demeanor and smoothly deliver the punchline
  • Master the Art of the Opening Line: You’ve got to hook your audiences with a clever opening line
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Feedback: Ask your audience what they think and solicit tips to help you improve

Also, remember that every great joke starts with a funny premise. While your jokes must consider Chinese culture, ensure you are respectful. When your joke is based on a concept familiar to the audience, there is a much better chance of getting some laughs once you deliver the punchline. 

Regardless of what language you are telling jokes in, timing is of utmost importance. Laughing at your punchline before you deliver it, misspeaking, or stumbling over the setup will crush your momentum. Be smooth, practice, and make sure you are using the proper inflection. 

Chinese Joke Don’ts

Chinese culture is rich and steeped in tradition. Ensure you don’t inadvertently disrespect these traditions and cultural norms when telling jokes. Here are some other Chinese jokes advisements to avoid offending your audience:

  • Don’t Publicly Embarrass Someone: You should never embarrass or insult people 
  • Don’t Make Jokes About Someone’s Personal Life: Avoid personal topics and keep jokes generalized so everyone has an opportunity to laugh
  • Avoid Politically Sensitive Topics: Leave the politics out of your Chinese jokes

If you are familiar with your audience and believe that the joke would be well-received, you can engage in some light, self-deprecating humor. Poking fun at yourself is an excellent way of demonstrating your humility, but keep the content clean. 

The best Chinese jokes are funny and respectful of your audience. They are also accessible, meaning the jokes have well-understood premises based on pop culture or other popular topics. 

For instance, you could joke about a fictitious character like a superhero or discuss a cultural establishment, such as marriage. When used properly, these premises are relatable and hilarious. Marriage and superheroes are two premises that we featured below. With that in mind, it’s time to get into the jokes. 

6 Chinese Jokes to Charm Your Mandarin-Speaking Friends

Ready to make people laugh? If so, here are six hilarious Chinese jokes you should add to your comedy arsenal. 

Joke 1: Spider-Man and His Mistaken Identities

Everybody has heard of Spider-Man. The famed web crawler has been popular among audiences of all ages for decades, making Spider-Man a great joke premise. There are a few different variations of Chinese Spider-Man jokes, each using homophones. 

Homophones are words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings. Some English examples include “hear vs. here,” “sea vs. see,” and “sell vs. cell.” 

When telling this joke, you’ll start by saying, “谁最知道猪,” which translates to “Who knows pigs very well?” The proper response is “知猪人,” which translates to “I know, the pig-man!” 

In Chinese, Spider-Man is 蜘蛛人 (zhī zhū rén). However, the characters “知猪人” are pronounced the same but translate to “I know, the pig-man.” 

Another popular version of the Chinese Spider-Man joke combines the transliterations of the Chinese words for “Spider” and “Man.” To set up this joke, you’ll ask, “谁是最坏的超级英雄?” which means, “Who is the worst superhero?” After pausing for effect, you’ll deliver this response: “失败的人!” This phrase translates to “A loser!” 

The phonetic pronunciation of this phrase is “Shi bai de.” However, if you adjust your tone, the phrase takes on different meanings. With one tone, it will mean “loser.” With another tone, it means the informal “spider man.” This joke goes over well in most circles unless Spider-Man happens to be someone’s favorite superhero. 

Joke 2: The Cost of Marriage

Marriage is an age-old institution that transcends cultures. Chinese people hold marriage and its lifelong commitment in incredibly high regard. Therefore, you must be careful when making jokes about marriage, even if you don’t direct your joke to any particular person or couple.

Fortunately, there are lots of clean and socially acceptable jokes about marriage. A favorite goes as follows: “一个小孩儿问他的爸爸: ‘爸爸,结婚需要花多少钱?’” That translates to “A child asked his father: ‘Dad, how much does it cost to get married?’” 

After pausing briefly, you’ll respond with “爸爸说: ‘儿子,我不知道。我还在付款!’” This phrase translates to “The father said: ‘Son, I don’t know. I’m still paying!’” 

The joke works for a few reasons. One, it refers to a well-known premise of marriage. Second, it pokes fun at a man’s ongoing courtship and monetary commitment to his wife. While the joke does allude to some potential negatives of marriage by referring to these obligations as “costs,” it avoids any explicit insults that could offend your audience. 

That said, there are certainly some situations where you would want to avoid this one. For instance, if you are meeting your Chinese girlfriend’s parents for the first time and want to demonstrate your commitment to learning their native language, avoid making jokes that poke fun at marriage. 

Joke 3: Vampires and Spicy Food

Most Chinese jokes rely on wordplay. This joke about vampires and spicy food is no different. 

The setup involves asking your audience the question: “吸血鬼喜欢吃辣吗?” That translates to “Do vampires like spicy food?” Then, you’ll respond with “不喜欢,” which means “No, they don’t.” 

Hopefully, your audience will play along and ask, “为什么?” which means “Why?” Now, you hit them with the punchline “因为他们喜欢blood.” The phrase translates to “Because they like,” and then you end the joke with “blood” in English. “Blood” sounds similar to “不辣的” (bú là de) in Chinese, which means “not spicy.” Your bilingual friends will love this joke because it blends English and Chinese languages in the punchline. 

Joke 4: Stars and Planes

The popular joke about stars and planes also relies on a bit of wordplay. In the setup, you’ll say “学生问老师:老师,为什么飞机在天上飞,却从不会撞到星星呢?”, which translates to: The student asks the teacher: “Teacher, why do planes never run into the stars when flying in the sky?” 

The response is “老师回答:‘因为星星会闪.’” which translates to “The teacher answered: ‘Because the stars can dodge.’” The Chinese word “闪” (shǎn) means both “to flash,” as in twinkle, and “to dodge.” 

Joke 5: Solving Problems With Money

Everybody understands that having the right amount of resources can solve many common problems people face. This joke about solving issues with money will be well-received by just about any audience. Since it doesn’t rely on Chinese wordplay, you can tell it in English, too.

The joke is a one-liner, meaning you don’t need any response or lengthy setup. Simply say the following: “你遇到的99%的问题都可以 用钱解决,剩下的1%, 需要用更多的钱.” That translates to “99% of the problems you encounter can be solved with money, and the remaining 1% can be solved with even more money.” 

Joke 6: Steak “Meet”

Let’s wrap up our list with a food joke. You’ll set this joke up with the question: “问:一个七分熟的牛排和一个五分熟的牛排相遇了。可它们却没有打招呼,为什么?” That translates to “A steak cooked medium and a steak cooked medium-well met in the street, but they did not say hello to each other — why?”

Unless they’ve heard the joke before, your audience should respond with “我不知道,为什么?” That translates to “I don’t know, why?” You’ll follow up with “因为都不熟!” This phrase translates to “Because neither was familiar with the other.” 

The 熟 (shú) can indicate the quality of a relationship between two people or mean that food is cooked well. This joke intentionally uses the incorrect meaning of the word to imply that the steaks aren’t familiar with one another. 

Learn Mandarin With NewConcept Education

Want to learn how to tell these and other great Chinese jokes? If so, NewConcept Education can help. We offer Mandarin classes Seattle residents can use to learn a new language, broaden their horizons, and immerse themselves in Chinese culture. Learning to tell jokes is a fun way to practice conversational Chinese with friends and classmates.

Do you live outside of the Seattle area? Don’t worry. We offer the best Chinese courses online. Sign up for a free trial class today. You’ll learn the basics, like writing Chinese jokes in pinyin, greeting others, and so much more!

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