Yemen Humor

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Yemen Satire

The Queen of Sheba: Her Life and Times. New York, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1922. [YU 36 (1995): 16-19, 37 (1995): 10-20]


Yemeni Jokes


There was a joke round in those days,although you had to be careful who you told it to, concerning an American, a Russian and an Adeni on the beach at Crater. The American took off his jeans and threw them into the sea. 'In the States,' he boasted, 'we have plenty of jeans.' The Russian swaggered forward and, taking out a full bottle of vodka, lobbed it as far as he could.' 'In Russia we have plenty of vodka.' The Adeni thought for awhile, then stepping forward, he picked up the Russian and threw him in the sea. [Kevin Rushby, Eating the Flower of Paradise,N.Y.: St. Martin's Press, 1999, p. 189].


A hollow-cheeked old man with mournful eyes rolled up. 'Tell me, you speak English and you speak Arabic. So, what is the difference between a fart in English and a fart in Arabic?' We began to laugh but he kept a straight face. 'I'll tell you. In English you say --' he pursed his lips and emitted a thin, little squeak. 'But in Arabic, ha!' He pouted up and blew a tremendous raspberry. 'There! When the Yemeni went to London with his wife and they were walking in Ox-ford Street, she let out a violent fart that knocked her poor husband off his feet. 'What are you doing?' he shouted. He was very angry. 'It's all right, my darling," said the wife, 'they don't understand Arabic.'' Ali almost choked on his qat but recovered to tell the Story of the Historic Fart, a much-repeated tale of the man, Abdul Aziz, who let rip in a qat chew and, covered in shame, went to India for ten years. After such a long period,hoping to be forgotten, he returned and crept back to his village. In the street he spied an old woman talking to a young boy. 'When was I born, Grandmother?' asked the lad. 'I don't know exactly,' replied the old woman, 'but it was in the year that Abdul Aziz farted'[Kevin Rushby, Eating the Flower of Paradise, N.Y.: St.Martin's Press, 1999, p. 278].


'Once', someone said, 'there was a blind girl. She was twenty-five years old and longing for a husband; but whenever she brought the subject up with her father he's day, "My daughter, you are blind. No one wants you. But don't worry – you'll find a husband in Paradise." Well, one day she was up on the roof hanging out the washing when she tripped and fell, down and down, six stories. By chance she fell into a lorry carrying bananas and was knocked unconscious. The lorry drove on. Ten minutes later she cameto. Ah, she thought, I am dead. Then, as she felt the bananas, she remembered what her father had told her and gave a little shriek:"Slowly, slowly, men of Paradise! Please, take your turn!" [Tim Mackintosh-Smith,Yemen: Travels in Dictionary Land. London:John Murray, 1997, p. 19].


An old joke illustrates this obsession with heat. The angels, it is said, periodically visit Hell to make sure the fires are turned up. One day a group of them are detailed to check on the really wicked sinners, who spend eternity in individual ovens. Inside the first oven is a Saudi. He screams to be let out. Roasting nicely, they think, and slam the door on him. In the next oven is an Englishman; then comes an American, an Egyptian and so on. All beg to be let out, but the angels show them no mercy. Eventually they open the last door. Inside sits a Yemeni, chewing qat and apparently oblivious of the flames around him. He draws languidly on his water-pipe, turns to the angels, and says: 'Hey, could you shut that door? I'll catch my death of cold.' [Tim Mackintosh-Smith, Yemen: Travels in Dictionary Land. London: John Murray, 1997, p. 17].


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