Did you get it? Nah didn’t think so

Cultural translation can lead to the disordered interpretation of another ones culture, this is especially depicted through the humour  and comedy of ones country. ‘Comedy after all, is a cultural and social practice that is both shaped by and contributes to historical conjunctures; it pivots on contested and ambivalent relationships to power; it constitutes  a repository of symbols that can be drawn on to indicate how, where and why people place themselves…’   (Medhurst, A 2005) Medhurst in this quote explains that what we see as comical is influenced by the culture we are all immersed in. Different values, upbringing and relationships. It allows individuals to place themselves within that context and create meaning to what is being depicted. While some cultures may find a section of humorous the rules may be different within another culture. Kath and Kim is Australian character driven television show and was filmed in Melbourne . The popular television show reached across to a large fan base and their target audience of ‘Australians’ in which the television show exposed Australian humour.

While Australians see this funny and humorous other cultures may not necessarily make a connection with the script. The use of language for example in the above snippet Kim said ‘stag night’, which others may know has a bachelor party. Due to the success of the television show, the US decided to try and create their own Kath and Kim series, and I say ‘try’ due to the fact that when they tried to air it in Australia it received a lot of negative comments towards it. The television show never adapted to its own culture and just tried to appeal to an audience that was not interested.

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“The successful translation of a comedy depends not only on the translation of the cultural context from one locale to another, but also the kinds of production deals which are made and the expectations about audiences which are then inferred.” (Turnbull, 2008, p. 115).


According to Susan Purdie, comedy depends on the breaking of rules of language and behaviour. You have to know what is acceptable before you find humour in what is unacceptable. The link through understanding each other cultures may be lost in translation. An example of the successful nature of translation through television shows is Jersey Shore and Geordie Shore, two reality television shows which are both similar in context. Both shows are about ‘everyday’ individuals living in a house together and partying. While both have similar context, they have been able to adapt their own culture to the show. For example the use of language, the way their lifestyle is shared is what made them both successful television shows in Australia. They were not trying to force and adapt another culture but their own.

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