Laughing At Your Own Expense

I’m sure you’ll agree that there’s nothing quite like having a good laugh. Laughter is infectious, it makes us feel better, happier, more optimistic and leaves us feeling refreshed. Being able to laugh at oneself is a particularly admirable trait, and it’s something I try to work on regularly.


I try not to take life too seriously, or myself for that matter. I consider myself to be a very relaxed, chilled-out guy (some who know me very well would say annoyingly so), and I find it contributes to my general happiness. Sometimes it can work against me, but more on that later.

A brief example of how I make a conscious effort not to take life too seriously; I don’t like to keep up with current affairs, as in, I never watch the news. I feel if something of importance arises and it is going to affect me, I will find out sooner or later. The only news I keep up with is the sports section, and of course the gossip pages, just to see what Kourtney, Kim and Khloé are getting up to, but that goes without saying.

Anyway, getting back to the point. In the time I’ve spent living abroad, I have found that some of the most memorable moments arise while discovering how your own country is viewed by other expats. There are the usual stereotypes of course, the ones which everyone you meet will mention the very instant they find out where you are from. Sometimes though, even when you think you’ve heard them all, people can surprise you and catch you off guard. This is where I’ve learned the value of not taking myself too seriously, and being able to laugh at my own expense sometimes. It can bring people closer together.

Some common observations about the Irish:

  • We tend to overuse words like ‘grand’ and ‘sound’.
  • Our accent is amazing.
  • We curse a lot, but in a charming way.

Oh and while we’re on the subject, I’d like to clear up a few things.

  • It’s not called ‘St. Patty’s Day’.
  • If you rub my head, it won’t bring you five years of good luck.
  • I don’t know ‘John from Galway’.

One day I was talking over the phone about this very subject, with my good friend Rob Murphy (‘Murf’, ‘The Unit’), a Tipperary man. We took turns describing our different experiences, in which expats from other countries had made comments about Ireland which ‘amused’ us, for want of a better word.

I went on to describe the following encounter to Murf. It took place about 14 months ago at a friends leaving party. She was an outgoing, bubbly, friendly young woman from The States. We had never met before, I guess we were mutual friends of the friend who was leaving. Anyway, it went something like this.

The Minnesotan Extrovert: ‘Hey, how are you?’

The Irish Introvert: ‘Grand thanks, yourself?’

M.E: ‘Great! Oh I love your accent, where are you from?’

I.E: ‘Ireland.’

M.E: ‘Awesome! I’ve never met anyone from Ireland before. So, that means you’re British right?’

-Short Pause-

I.E: ‘No. I’m Irish. I’m from Ireland.’

M.E: ‘Oh, I’m sorry. I’m not good with geography.’

I.E: ‘You’re grand, no worries.’

M.E: ‘Have you ever seen a leprechaun?’

-Long Pause-

-End of Conversation-

Laughter erupted between myself and Murf over the phone, and I was inspired to write a short poem commemorating my conversation with ‘The Minnesotan Extrovert’.

‘Ode To Americans’

Let this be a warning,

To yee who don’t know,

It might be hard to grasp,

So  I’ll talk nice and slow.

The Emerald Isle is my home,

Ireland; born and bred,

Call me British again,

And I’ll kick you in the head.

I feel like I should mention that I wrote it in the space of five minutes, and it was written in good humor to make light of the situation. In other words, or as we say in Ireland, ‘I was just havin’ the craic!’

All that being said, notwithstanding the comical stereotypes, I’m always filled with great pride when I so often hear of my beautiful country being spoke of in such high regard by my fellow expats. Perhaps they tell you that Ireland is at the top of their travel bucket list, or they proudly claim lineage to Ireland through a grandparent, or they triumphantly recount the tale of how they pulled the perfect pint at the Guinness Storehouse. The list goes on.

In many ways, by leaving I have come to learn more about, and have a greater appreciation for, the wondrous land in which I call home. For that, I am extremely grateful.

As always, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section, or by e-mail. If you have had similar experiences, or a story to tell, I’d love to hear them. I really appreciate all your comments, texts and e-mails of support since I’ve started this project. Thank you, and keep them coming! 

Have a great weekend!