French Humour: 5 French Jokes that are Popular among Native Speakers

In France, you’ll find the same sorts of jokes that you’ve heard before: blond jokes, “your mum…” jokes, black humoured jokes, and dad jokes. However, this short list of five French jokes is made up of types of jokes that are well-known in France, but that but we don’t really have in English, that aren’t as popular in English, or that we have in English but are structured slightly differently. Some rely on wordplay, some on childishness, some on black humour, and some on sheer cheesiness. Oh, and some on Franco-Belge rivalry.

Monsieur et Madame Blagues – Mr and Mrs Jokes

An illustration of a married couple at the breakfast table

Monsieur et Madame jokes are well-known in French humour, and all have this structure:

Monsieur et Madame << nom de famille>> ont un fils/une fille, comment s’appelle-t-il/elle?

(Mr and Mrs <surname> have a son/daughter, what is his/her name?)

The punchline will be a first name that when put in front of the surname, forms a certain word or phrase. Here are a few examples, with their punchlines explained.

Monsieur et Madame Touille ont une fille, comment s’appelle-t-elle ?

(Sacha Touille: ça chatouille – that tickles)

Monsieur et Madame Ouzi ont un fils, comment s’appelle-t-il ?

(Jacques Ouzi: jacuzzi)

Monsieur et Madame Honnête ont une fille, comment s’appelle-t-elle ?
(Camille Honnête: camionnette – van)

In some Madame et Monsieur jokes, there may be more than one child. For example:

Monsieur et Madame Terrieur ont deux enfants. Comment s’appellent-ils?
Alain et Alex

(Alain Terrieur et Alex Terrieur: à l’intérieur et à l’extérieur – inside and outside)

Les Blagues << toc, toc, toc >> – Knock-Knock Jokes

Illustration of a door

These are the French equivalent of knock-knock jokes. Whilst knock-knock jokes have been popular in English for decades upon decades, they were only recently brought back into fashion in France in 2015.

In French though, toc toc jokes will lead into a song. The person telling the joke will say << Toc, toc, toc ! >> , and will get the reply << Qui est là ? >> (“Who’s there?”). They’ll then say a name, let’s use Johnny for this example, and their audience will ask << Johnny qui ? >> (“Johnny who?”) . At this point, they’ll sing the chorus of a recognisable song that begins with the name, or words that sound like the name. So for this example, it’ll be << Johnny ! Johnny ! Si tu étais plus galant, Johnny ! Johnny ! Je t’aimerais toujours autant… >> . This is from the song Johnny tu n’es pas un ange by Édith Piaf.
Here’s another example:

<< Toc, toc, toc >>
<< Qui est là ? >>
<< Diégo ? >>
<< Diégo qui ? >>
<< Diego, libre dans sa tête, derrière sa fenêtre, s’endort peut-être… >>

(This is from Diégo libre dans sa tête by Johnny Halladay.)

Les Blagues de Toto – Toto Jokes

Illustration of a young schoolboy

Toto jokes are short anecdotes about a mischievous young schoolboy, Toto. In the jokes, he says silly or naïve things, often in response to a question asked by his teachers or parents. Toto has been around in French popular culture since the late 19th century, and many other languages and countries have their equivalents. For example, in English there’s “Little Johnny”, and in Italian there’s “Pierino.”

Here’s a couple of examples:

La maîtresse de Toto lui demande : « Récite-moi le verbe marcher au présent. » Toto répond « je…marche…tu…tu…marches… », mais la maîtresse le presse, << allez, plus vite Toto ! >> Ce à quoi il répond « Euh…je cours euh…tu cours…il court… »

Toto’s teacher asks him: “Recite the verb “to walk” in the present tense”. Toto responds “I … walk… you … you … walk …” , but the teacher pushes him, “ come on, quicker Toto!” , to which he responds “Er … I run er … you run … he runs…”

Toto annonce très fièrement: << Maman j’ai battu tous les records ! J’ai terminé ce puzzle en une heure, alors que sur la boîte il a marqué de 2 à 4 ans ! >>

Toto announces very proudly: “Mum, I’ve broken all the records! I’ve finished this puzzle in a hour, but it says 2 to 4 years on the box!”

Les Blagues Belges – Belgian Jokes

The Belgian and French flags

Another popular genre of French joke is les blagues belges, which (good-naturedly) poke fun at Belgians, often by playing upon stereotypes or by simply portraying them as dopey and witless. Here are a few common examples:

Comment fait-on pour rentrer douze Belges dans un coffre de voiture ?
On jette une frite à l’intérieur.

How do you get 12 Belgians to go inside a car boot?
Throw a chip inside.

(This joke ridicules the fact that the Belgians eat a lot of chips, more than anywhere else in Europe in fact.)

Pourquoi les belges vont-ils dans le désert avec une fenêtre ?
Pour pouvoir l’ouvrir s’ils ont trop chaud.

Why do Belgians take a window with them to the desert?
So they can open it if they’re too hot.

Don’t feel too sorry for the Belgians though, there are plenty of jokes told in Belgium about the French. Here’s one example:

Pourquoi un français boit toujours la tasse quand il nage ?
Parce que même dans l’eau ils sont obligés d’ouvrir leur grande gueule

Why does a Frenchman always swallow water when he swims?
Because even in the water, they have to open their big mouths.

(Of course, this plays on the stereotype that French people swear and shout a lot, and talk too much.)

Les Blagues Carambar

Carambar sweets

Carambar is a brand of chewy caramel sweets in France, and on the wrapper of each individual carambar, there is a cheesy joke. The brand and the jokes are that well-known that in France, that the phrase une blague Carambar is often used to describe a bad joke. Here are a few examples from the wrappers themselves:

Un sucre tombe amoureux d’une cuillère. Le sucre dit à la cuillère :
<< Nous pourrions peut-être nous rencontrer dans un café ? >>

A sugar cube falls in love with a spoon. The sugar cube says to the spoon:
Maybe we could meet each other in a café / coffee. (un café can translate as “a café” or “coffee”.)

Que dit un oignon quand il se cogne ?
<< Aïe ! >>

What did the onion say when he knocked himself?
Ouch! / Garlic!

(In French, aïe translates as ouch and aie translates as garlic. Both sound the same, and garlic is a type of onion, hence the joke).

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