There was an Englishman, a Swiss and an Albanian…

One night, when bored waiting for a taxi that took too long to come, a friend told a joke he read somewhere online.

“There was once an Albanian, an English person, and a Chinese and they got into a rumble about whose religion is the truest. The way they decided to do this is by jumping from a tall building and praying in the way of their religion, and supposedly the one who gets an answer doesn’t die.
The English person goes first and he yells – “JESUS CHRIST, JESUS CHRIST SAVE ME” – and he splashes on the street and dies.
The Chinese goes second yelling “BUDA, BUDA, BUDA” and while he is falling down he levitates and therefore doesn’t die.
The Albanian goes last and he keeps yelling “ALLAH, ALLAH” but as he sees himself falling down, he starts yelling “BUDA BUDA BUDA”

As we were all laughing – some with heart, and some others maybe out of good manners, I thought about this other joke where an anthropologist enters a bar and asks “What’s so funny?”. I became entangled in the idea of laughter, humor, and why this joke is funny. It is widely known already that humor – as art in general often does – always mirrors certain contexts and certain beliefs, and when the characters that are part of the joke are determined only on ethical bases, it seems to me to be a basic (somehow caricatured) reflection of the stereotypes that exist of Kosovans about themselves, and on others. This essay attempts to furthermore understand this subject, as an own individual journey into the matter. The methodology and the way the essay is developed is – at least an attempt – to be experimental through collecting, interpreting and analyzing some of these certain types of jokes (Called amongst Kosovans “vica”, “hajgare”) that are often found to be told by Kosovans – and to understand the certain stereotypes they assert. As you will see, they usually start by determining the ethnicities that are part of it, who commit an act together – often a race on (e.g..) “whose religion is more true?”, or “who was the first to discover telephones’ ‘ – which was another joke that another friend remembered when he heard the previous one. 

“An Albanian, an American, and a German were in a conference where they were racing on who had been using the telephone the earliest in their country?
– We were digging in a field and 40 meters below we still found telephone wires, which means that the telephone was being used in the USA since the year 1840 – said the American.
We dug even deeper, at 60 meters we found wires which means that Telephones were being used in Germany since the year 1820 – the german continued.
The Albanian sat quietly and started to tell his story on how they dug 100 meters, they went even deeper at 200 meters, and they still didn’t find telephone wires – “Which means we were using smartphones” – quirkily he replied.

The Kosovans mostly depict themselves as lazy and clever, a winner by cheating, and always have a way with words. Sometimes stupid. While researching the subject the questions appeared:  And notes were taken!


  • It’s important to notice that these stereotypes are not true. Generalizing whole ethnies like this is wrong when you take in account the diverse identities that people deal with internally, and then externally (like ethnic identity) Stereotypes rather give in to the idea of an imagology that is maintained and reproduced by some sort of cultural engineering. But I wouldn’t go as far as to say that they are not true at all. 
  • In these jokes there are always the same types of nationalities. Which in the case of the jokes of our essay are Germans, Americans, and if needed the English are added as well. More cultural contact creates more stereotypes and more interaction.
  • Germans are stereotyped as technical people, smart and straight to the point. Most probably they would win if Albanian was not part of the equation. English people are usually there just as part of the storyline, apparently Buddhism is considered to be a true religion.
  • In laughing, and joking – being as it is one of the biggest craves of humans – there’s constituted norms and regulations on when you should do it. How? And where? There is a time and place where you laugh as we are advised from an early age, for laughing in a funeral for example would be very inappropriate. Yet on the other hand, there is a kind of psychological stimuli that makes one laugh exactly when you shouldn’t be laughing – such as in the middle of a lecture! It is said that “Laughter is the best medicine”, but then if you are laughing too much, or laughing while eating you’re considered to be “disgusting”, “not serious”. The affective display of laughing somehow puts that person’s rationality at risk. You’re considered stupid.
  • “Every successful joke indicates a victory against the inhibition critical reason imposed on thought in the normal waking psychic state. Unlike dreams, there is no need for secondary elaboration or disguise to escape censorship. However, the joke must occur in a situation when the play of words or nonsense presents itself in a form “that is both admissible [a joke] and ingenious [wit] by virtue of the multiple meanings of words and the infinite variety of negative relations” (1905c).
  • Technically, the joke is related to the dream but it must take into account its audience and the listener’s ability to correct the distortions (displacements, condensations) through which sense is communicated through non-sense. The goals of dreams and jokes should not be confused. The first tends to express a desire by eliminating unpleasantness, while the second is an extension of the game that seeks to obtain some additional pleasure.”
  •  “Kush e kesh e vesh” is a long-held Albanian idiom, which roughly translates to “Whatever you’re laughing at, is what you’re getting”. It stands diametrically linked to the expression “Shka ki iri, ta qon Zoti pahiri” which translates to “What you hate, God will bring upon you”. The first expression hints at the idea that you’re laughing at something because you don’t view it in such high regard . The idea of humor in terms of the joker in juxtaposition to the other, as an act of superiority that elevates the one who laughs, on the burden of the laughing target – and therefore its not fit for a code of conducts revolving around “morality” (HOBBES) As a result, you will be brought to deal with it, in terms of some universal order.
  • Most of these ethnic jokes could be analyzed objectively when taking in account Hobbes’ idea about jokes. Put in juxtaposition to the other (Ethnies at this case) to employ a form of superiority towards them!


“An Albanian, a German, and an American are caught by a cannibalistic tribe. The cannibalistic tribe proposes 3 options of dying to them. The first is – to be boiled on water – the second is the guillotine, and the third is with a hammer. The german says that they want to die on the guillotine. The guillotine gets stuck on the way, and this saves the german for it is thought as a sign from god. The American as well choses the guillotine and gets saved when the guillotine gets stuck again. The Albanian however choses the boiling water – “Because that guillotine is not working”.

by Shpat Shkodra

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