The Swiss have a reputation for being rather humourless. But are they just misunderstood?
The Swiss have a reputation for being rather humourless – a stereotype many say is unfounded. How much is comedy linked to culture, politics and language that perhaps isn’t understood by outsiders? "Witzerland", an exhibition at the Swiss National Museum in the central canton of Schwyz, runs until the end of January 2021 and sheds light on what tickles Swiss ribs. ("Witz" means "joke" in German.) It features TV clips, artwork and cartoons from humorists such as Patrick Chappette, a cartoonist for the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times for 20 years, and performances from stage giants such as the clown Grock, at one time the highest-paid music hall and variety star. Historical jokes and puns about Swiss society and neutrality feature alongside blonde gags and cracks about the foibles of wives and husbands, as can be found in any culture. Curator Pia Schubiger says that if some people find them offensive, it’s a chance to talk about where the boundaries of humour lie.