The Funniest Country on Earth
As a humorist, you may occasionally come across a situation where you need a "funny country" to finish a joke. But if you are not an experienced supergenius like me, or if you are merely an amateur supergenius, you might not be entirely sure which countries are still on the cutting edge of what is funny and which have passed their time in the spotlight.
When I was a kid in the 1980's there were a lot of jokes about Poland and dumb Polacks. But nobody makes jokes about Europe anymore - they seem to have gotten their act together (except Italy.) At least half of the pornography that Americans consume must now come from the former Eastern Bloc nations. Hot lesbian action is almost never funny.
Canada and Mexico are easy targets for Americans because of their proximity, and you will probably still see a lot of jokes made at their expense, but in my opinion it's all been done. You can't joke about America's number one trading partner and number one supplier of cleaning ladies and fruit pickers. You can't joke about Mexico, either. Even if you try it's pretty damn insulting, as I just demonstrated.
The nations of Africa are right out, of course. They've got enough rotten shit to deal with without us picking on them. Western Africa, it turns out, is turning into a nice collection of suburbs. Libya might be worth a yuck or two, but I doubt most young people can remember why we started making fun of them in the first place. (I doubt anyone younger than 25 can even spell "Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi.")
The Middle East seems to suffer from the same problems as Africa, not to mention that a lot of them want to kill us, and we as Americans have done our part to make life there a lot worse. You can't laugh so much about something you're scared of.
Asia continues to "emerge" as a world power. Our grandparents picked on Japan a lot, but they sure taught America a thing or two about quality electronics, compact and mid-size cars, and cartoon tentacle sex. Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia have been pretty quiet lately. And the boat has sailed on Khmer Rouge Cambodia jokes as far as I can tell. Anyone old enough to know what that is will be too old to laugh.
Australia jokes went the way of Paul Hogan's career. And everybody loves New Zealand now, for some reason, even though in reality it's a big shithole from coast to coast.
That just leaves south and central America. Here there remain a few gems. Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Columbia, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Panama -- these countries are all cool. Guatemala and Nicaragua are still probably fucked up, but they've been out of our minds for so long it's hard to remember what makes them funny. Haiti would be a good joke, but there are enough of them living in the US now that you might get cut up. Peru has Mayan ruins and nobody knows what goes on in those three little colony/countries north of Brazil. That leaves Bolivia, Uraguay, and Paraguay.
I did some research. Bolivia, while being very coup-happy in it's nearly 200 year history, recently legalized cocaine. They have their first indigenous president in their history. So Bolivia jokes are in a holding pattern to see what happens next. Uraguay, it turns out, has both beach resorts and gauchos, so you might actually consider vacationing there.
Paraguay, on the other hand, is landlocked. It was also home to many Nazi expats, including Dr. Mengele. But I still wasn't sure until I saw this at Infoplease.com:
After World War II, politics became particularly unstable. Alfredo Stroessner was dictator from 1954 until 1989, during which he was accused of the torture and murder of thousands of political opponents. Despite Paraguay's human rights record, the U.S. continuously supported Stroessner.Hilarious. Moreover, Paraguay meets the requirement that Americans not be able to name their capital nor locate them reliably on a map. But somehow we still know that it's a troubled country. This is sufficient to make fun of it. That is why I call Paraguay the 2006 Funniest Country on Earth.
However, and just to be serious for a moment, I think that the boat has sailed on jokes about foreign nations and foreigners. Racism and bigotry have been ushered out while acceptance and multi-culturalism has been ushered in. It is my opinion that you probably shouldn't make jokes about countries at all. It's been done. Right here.