You may have heard of the word Sparwitz, which describes a joke that isn’t funny. Now, let’s look at a word that describes a joke with a bit more humor:
A Schenkelklopfer is a simple, corny but effective joke that evokes serious laughter. The direct translation is “thigh slapper” but in English, the term “knee slapper” is a more commonly used equivalent. The German word Schenkel means “thigh” and Klopf means “to knock” (or in this case, slap). This type of joke is so funny that it may have listeners slapping their knees while laughing. It’s not clear why certain jokes prompt listeners to slap their upper legs while laughing. Think back: have you ever laughed so hard that you slapped your thigh or knee? It’s common – both in German and American culture.
Unlike a Sparwitz, which usually evokes little to no reaction, a Schenkelklopfer is so funny that it promps belly- aching laughter.
By Nicole Glass, German Embassy