French Humor Exists – LewRockwell

It is an American cliché that the French have a terrible sense of humor. Exhibit A for many Americans is their love of Jerry Lewis. After living in France for many years and marrying a French woman I can attest as well as any American that the cliché is true, or at least somewhat true.  For example, I have a personal critique of French humor, that is a response to my French wife’s attempted humor: “You’ll never have coffee with Jerry.” Of course this line refers to Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee internet series. But perhaps this view might be as much a Venus and Mars difference as well as French and American. One could also recognize that to listen to French humor in French requires knowledge of all the subtleties of the language. The French really love le jeu des mots, the play on words, that I often miss. In reality, I think most Americans would find a comedian like Louis de Funès really funny.

In this spirit of multicultural humor, I would like to bring to your attention a French book that after 200 years since its publication still brought me many a big grin while reading it. The book is The Government Clerks (also translated as Bureaucracy as found on Project Gutenberg) by Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850). In French the book is called Les Employés or la Femme supérieure.  It is a part of Balzac’s series La Comédie humaine (The Human Comedy), a multi-volume collection of interlinked novels and stories depicting French society in the period of the Restoration (1815-1830) and the July Monarchy (1830–1848). In brief, it is a view of the French deep state than any libertarian could appreciate (see this link for nice synopsis). I will append several quotes below that include satirical descriptions of…

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