10 Chinese Jokes to Make Your Chinese Friends Laugh
What’s your go-to Chinese joke?
Although humor is different from culture to culture (not to mention from person to person), jokes are a great way to break down barriers and make new friends. In a situation in which you’re hoping to practice more in your new language, making people laugh is all the more important!
Some people believe that humor is an important skill for advanced language learners. The ability to crack a funny joke in a different language demonstrates a high ability. And not just in a grammatical or lexical sense, also in understanding that culture’s humor.
It’s not always evident to come up with jokes on the spot, even less in a foreign language! If you’re learning Chinese, you might want to arm yourself with a couple of funny stories.
If you’re looking for the basics on how to greet someone, start here. Otherwise, keep reading to learn the funniest jokes in Chinese!
Table of contents
- Chinese Jokes: Can They Work Well for English Speakers?
- 1. There Is a Joke on Traditional Chinese Medicine vs. Western Coffee?
- 2. You Can Make Fun of Spiderman and His Hilarious Homophones in Chinese
- 3. Another Chinese Joke Spiderman’s Second Hilarious Homophone
- 4. If You’re Looking for Chinese Couple Jokes, Here’s a Great One
- 5. “Where, Where”… A Chinese Joke Lost in Translation?
- 6. Learn About a Typically Mandarin Misunderstanding…
- 7. Have You Ever Heard a Joke About Donating Blood?
- 8. Some Chinese Humor That Wouldn’t Make Your Teacher Laugh
- 9. And If You Wanted Another Joke Involving Teachers and Students, Here’s One
- 10. Here’s How to Joke About Getting Married for the Right Reasons in Chinese
- You’re All Set to Be a Comedian in Chinese!
I recently met a Taiwanese French teacher. We were chatting in Chinese about Taiwanese food. We got on the topic of 臭豆腐 (chòu dòufu), or stinky tofu, a popular dish in Taiwan.
He told me that there were mainly two types of stinky tofu:
臭豆腐主要有两种。/臭豆腐主要有兩種。(Chòudòufu zhǔyào yǒu liǎng zhǒng)
“There are generally two types of stinky tofu.”
I, not being a huge fan of stinky tofu, responded so:
两个都不好吃。/兩個都不好吃。(Liǎng gè dōu bù hǎochī)
“Both of which taste bad.”
Thankfully, others thought my joke was funny, and I got a laugh. I felt happy to be able to translate my humor into Chinese, a humor that tends to be a bit more on the “dry” side!
While humor is highly influenced by the cultural context, you don’t have to give up your own sense of humor when you learn a new language.
In this article, I’ll be discussing five funny jokes you can tell in Chinese to break the ice and practice your humor in a new context – and, of course, to make your friends laugh!
For each joke, I’ll provide simplified characters, traditional characters, pinyin, and a translation. Then, I’ll give an explanation regarding the cultural context or the humor involved.
But first, here’s a way you can start the conversation:
你想听笑话吗？/ 你想聽笑話嗎？(Nǐ xiǎng tīng xiàohua ma?)
“Do you want to hear a joke?”
笑话/笑話 (xiàohua) – Here, literally “laugh speech,” is the word for joke!
Now here’s a list of Chinese 笑话/笑話 to make your friends 爆笑 (bàoxiào, “laugh out loud”)!
Xiǎoshíhou měidāng wǒ gǎnmào de shíhou, māma dōu huì wéi wǒ chōng yī bēi kāfēi. tā wēnróu dì shuì: “ Wàiguórén dōu shì zhèyàng de.” kě wǒ zǒngshì hàipà kāfēi de wèidao, suāntián kǔsè jiāocuò. rújīn wǒ zǒu biàn suǒyǒu de kāfēi guǎn, dōu jiàn bùdào xiǎoshíhou hē guò de nàge páizi, zhī jìde tā yǒu yī gè hěn yángqì de míngzi: bǎnlángēn!
“Every time I caught a cold as a kid, my mom would pour a cup of coffee for me. She would say gently: ‘Foreigners all do this.’ But I always hated the taste of coffee, the mix of sour, sweet, bitter, and astringent. Today when I go to coffee shops, I can’t find the brand anywhere! All I remember is the Western-sounding name: Banlangen!”
The joke here is that 板蓝根/板藍根 (bǎnlángēn) is a traditional Chinese herb used to treat colds. It has a bittersweet taste, which explains why the child in the joke describes the “black coffee” they drink as sweet!
Coffee is not a traditional drink in China, but it has become popular in recent years.
Wèn: shéi zuì zhīdào zhū?
“Question: who knows pigs best?”
Dā: zhī zhū rén!
“Answer: Mr. Knows pigs!”
Dā: zhī zhū rén!
Here, 知猪人 and 蜘蛛人 have exactly the same pronunciation. While 蜘蛛人 is the Chinese word for “Spiderman”, “知猪人“ takes 知 from 知道, “to know” and makes a word that sounds like “Knows-pigs-person.”
Wèn: shéi shì zuì huài de chāojí yīngxíong?
“Question: who’s the worst superhero?”
Dā: shībài de rén!
“Answer: A loser!”
This joke, like many Chinese jokes, plays on homophones, or characters that have the same sound but a different meaning.
Here, shībài de sounds like the Chinese transliteration of “Spider” followed by 人，”person”; however, 失败人/失敗人 means “loser.”
This joke doesn’t deal with any homophones, but rather its humor is based on the interaction between this couple.
Yǒu yī duì fūqī, tāmen chūqù chīfàn, qīzǐ tūrán dà jiào: “ Ā! wǒ wàng le guān wǎsī, kěnéng huì fāshēng huǒzāi!”
zhàngfu què ānwèi tā shuì: “ Méiguānxi, fǎnzhèng wǒ yě wàng le guān xǐshǒu tái de shuǐ.”
“A couple was out to dinner when the wife suddenly called out: ‘Oh dear! I forgot to turn off the gas! There could be a fire!’
The husband comforted her and said: ‘It’s okay, in any case I also forgot to turn off the water faucet.’”
“Nǎlǐ Nǎlǐ” lián qǐ shuō jiùshì zìqiān, zhè shì yībān Zhōngguórén dōu zhīdào de, píngshí yě chángyòng. dàn chū tōng Hànyǔ de wàiguórén W xiānsheng bùlǐ xiè. yī cì, W xiānsheng cānjiā Zhōngguórén de hūnlǐ, tā hěn yǒulǐmào dì zànměi xīnniáng piàoliang. yīpáng de xīnláng lìjí dàibiǎo xīnniáng biǎoshì gǎnxiè, “ Nǎlǐ nǎlǐ.” W xiānsheng juéde tǐng bù hǎoyìsi de, yǐwéi wèi shuō dào jùtǐ dìfāng, biàn yòng shēngyìng de Zhōngguóhuà zàishuō — “ Tóufa, méimao, yǎnjing, ěrduo, bízi, zuǐ dōu hěn piàoliang!”
“Nǎlǐ Nǎlǐ (“where where”) is a modest response to a compliment; Chinese people understand this, and it’s a widely used phrase. But Mr. X, a foreigner just beginning to study Chinese, does not understand. Once, Mr. X went to a Chinese person’s wedding. He politely complimented the new bride and groom. The couple said “where where,” meaning to express their thanks. Mr. X thought it was quite embarrassing and thought erroneously that he had failed to mention a specific place, so he clarified and said: “Hair, eyebrows, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, everything is beautiful!”
This joke is based on the idea that “哪里哪里/哪裡哪裡”, literally meaning “where where,” actually is a polite response to a compliment. It’s a bit like saying “don’t flatter me” or something like that. But the foreigner in this situation took the words for their literal meaning and responded so.
I’ve seen quite a few Chinese jokes that are based on foreigners misunderstanding Chinese, which I think is an interesting thing to note.
Yǐ qián gāng jìn gōng sī shí ， tīng dào tóng shì mén jiào lìng yī gè nǚ tóng shì xiǎo yí ， jiù lián lǎo bǎn yě yī kǒu yī gè xiǎo yí de jiào tā ， wǒ xīn xiǎng wǒ yī gè xīn rén kě qiān wàn bù néng dé zuì liǎo tā ， shuō bù dìng tā zhēn shì lǎo bǎn de xiǎo yí ne ， suǒ yǐ zài tā miàn qián wǒ yī zhí bì gōng bì jìng …… zhí dào yǒu yī tiān ， wǒ zài rén shì bù kàn dào liǎo tā de zī liào ， cái fā xiàn tā yǒu yī gè tè zhuài de míng zì …… xiāo yí ！
“Once when I went into work, I heard my coworkers call a female coworker ‘auntie,’ even the boss called her that. I thought that as a new employee, I really didn’t want to offend her, she could really be the boss’s aunt! So in front of her I was always totally polite…then one day, in the human resources department I looked at her information, and found out that she has a unique name…Xiao yi!”
So here, something similar is happening as with the Spiderman jokes: the humor is to be found between two similar sounding words with two meanings.
In this case, 小姨（xiǎo yí）and 肖怡（xiāo yí）do differ in the tone of the initial xiao, but they are close enough to cause an understanding.
As a bonus, this joke includes a 成語/成语（chéngyǔ), or a four-character idiomatic phrase. 畢恭畢敬/毕恭毕敬 (bì gōng bì jìng) means “respectful” or “respectfully” depending on how it is used.
If you can tell a joke in Chinese and throw out a chengyu here and there, you’re already halfway to fluency!
yī tiān zài lù shàng kàn dào juān xuè chē ， páng biān guà zhuó pái zǐ ， shàng miàn xiě ：
juān 250cc sòng niú nǎi miàn bāo
juān 500cc sòng shǒu biǎo
wǒ wèn hù shì
nà juān 1000cc sòng shén me ？
hù shì shuō
huì sòng jí zhěn 。
“One day I saw a blood donation car on the street. On the side I saw a sign on which it said:
Donate 250cc, get milk and bread
Donate 500cc, get a watch
I asked the nurse: ‘if I donate 1000cc, what do I get?’
The nurse said, ‘A visit to the emergency room.’”
The cool thing about this joke is it demonstrates two different meanings of the word 送（sòng). On the one hand, it can mean to give a gift, like in the case of the rewards given for donating blood. On the other hand, it can mean “to take,” as in to drive someone to the hospital or to the airport.
So this joke is based on these two different meanings!
Dì dì shuō dāng tā shàng shù xué táng de shí hòu ， lǎo shī wèn xué shēng A：1+1 shì duō shǎo ？
Xué shēng A xiǎng liǎo hǎo yī zhèn zǐ yě bù dǒng ， jiù shuō ： lǎo shī ！ wǒ bù dǒng ！
Lǎo shī hǎo shēng qì de shuō ： nǐ zhēn shì yī jiù fàn ！ liǎn zhè me jiǎn dān de tí mù yě bù dǒng 。
Wǒ zài wèn nǐ ： lì rú wǒ jiā nǐ shì duō shǎo ne ？
Xué shēng A jí kè jiǎng ： zhè gè wǒ zhī ！ liǎng jiù fàn ！
“My little brother told me that when he was in math class, the teacher asked student A: ‘what’s 1+1?’
Student A thought about it for a while and still didn’t understand, so he said: ‘Teacher, I don’t understand!’
The teacher said angrily: ‘you really are stupid! Even this simple question you don’t understand. I’ll ask you again: for example, you and I together equal how much?’
Student A responded immediately: ‘Oh, I know this one! Two idiots!’”
This is a joke from a Hong Kong website, which is why the original version is written in traditional characters, just like in Taiwan and Macau.
Although the joke is written in Mandarin, the humor mostly comes from the phrase 一旧饭/一舊飯 (yī jiù fàn), which is from the Cantonese dialect spoken in Southern China and Hong Kong. It is an insult to describe someone as stupid or unintelligent.
An interesting aspect of this joke is the presence of some incorrectly typed characters. English native speakers on Facebook often confuse “there/their/they’re” in their written forms. Well, Chinese speakers also sometimes write incorrectly.
For example, the most standard and correct way to write 生氣的說 (shēng qì de shuō) should be 生氣地說 (same pronunciation). This 地 is used to connect an adjective acting as an adverb to a verb. 的 is used for possession.
Additionally, the person types 臉這麼簡單的題目也不懂 (liǎn zhè me jiǎn dān de tí mù yě bù dǒng), where the first 臉 should actually be 連 (lián). This comes from the grammatical pattern 連。。。也/都(不)。。。
我吃全素，连起司都不吃。/ 我吃全素，連起司都不吃。(wǒ chī quán sù ， lián qǐ sī dū bù chī) ”I’m a vegan, I don’t even eat cheese.”
他生气了，一整天一句话都没说。/ 他生氣了，一整天一句話也沒說。(tā shēng qì le， yī zhěng tiān yī jù huà yě méi shuō) ”He’s mad; he hasn’t said a word all day.”
This pattern is used where “even” is used in English, or for some sort of emphasis. As can be seen from the two example sentences, either 也 or 都 can be used in the second half of the sentence.
Lǎo shī jiā fǎng ， wèn xué shēng ： nǐ mén jiā xìng fú má ？ xué shēng jiāo ào dì dá dào ： xìng fú ！ fù qīn guò lái gěi liǎo tā jì ěr guāng “ xiǎo zǐ ， sheí ràng nǐ gǎi xìng de ！
“A teacher on a home visit asked the student: ‘is your family happy?’ The student proudly answered: ‘We’re happy!’ The father came over and slapped the boy saying, ‘Boy, who told you to change your last name!’”
This one is hard to understand through the translation alone.
This joke is based on the similarity between 幸福 (xìngfú, “happy”) and 姓 (xìng), the verb used to describe one’s last name: the father, having misheard, believes that the son is describing his last name as 福, not saying that he is happy.
This joke, fortunately, uses 地 correctly, in the example 学生骄傲地答道/學生驕傲地答道 （xué shēng jiāo ào dì dá dào）, the student “proudly” responded. “Proudly” is simply “proud” (骄傲) with 地, which turns it into an adverb.
Yī gè xiǎo huǒ zǐ xiàng gū niáng qiú hūn ， gū niáng shuō ： “ bù guò ， wǒ mén xiāng shí cái > sān tiān nà ， nǐ liǎo jiě wǒ má ？”
Xiǎo huǒ zǐ jí máng shuō ：“ liǎo jiě ， liǎo jiě ， wǒ zǎo jiù liǎo jiě nǐ liǎo 。”
“Shì má ？”
“Shì de ， wǒ zài yín xíng gōng zuò sān nián liǎo ， nǐ fù qīn yǒu duō shǎo cún kuǎn ， wǒ shì hěn qīng chǔ de 。”
“A young man proposes to a girl. The girl says: ‘However, we have only known each other for three days. Do you understand me?’
The young man hurriedly says, ‘I do, I do, I have known you for a long time.’
‘Yes, I have worked in the bank for three years. I know how much your father has in savings.’”
This Chinese joke doesn’t rely on any double meanings or homophones! It’s just a joke based on someone getting married for some interesting reasons…
I hope that when you get a chance to try out one of these jokes, they will impress your friends and make them laugh! If you want to check out some other Chinese jokes, you can try out this website.
If you’re looking for another way to impress your Chinese conversation partner, check out this list of proverbs to make your speech more natural.
Best of luck!