There's little funny about North Korea's comedy show

Mon Apr 12, 2010 9:25am EDT
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By Jon Herskovitz and Christine Kim

SEOUL (Reuters Life!) - Stern, serious, socialist North Korea has carved out a spot in TV history for having one of the world's longest running comedy shows, despite it being mostly devoid of jokes for the decades it has been on the air.

The show now called "It's So Funny" is meant to uplift the morale of troops and extol propaganda about the virtues of serving under "The General" Kim Jong-il. Laughter is optional -- unless the soldiers in the audience are ordered to do so.

The format of the show is usually a conversation between a man and a woman in military uniform, who sometimes sing, dance and try a little slapstick, but mostly avoid telling one-liners.

"Often, it is really hard to find the humor," said a South Korean official who monitors the North's official broadcasts.

"This type of show has been on since almost the beginning of the state's official programing (in the 1970s)," he said.

The latest version that came out in the past week extolled the virtue of beans, while avoiding any flatulence humor.

It opened with the man soldier saying to the woman soldier he feels better and looks more handsome because he has been taking medicine made from beans.

"If we soldiers see beans, we become happy," he said and laughs. "If we farm in the way the General tells us, we will become happy," she said and laughs.   Continued...