5 Easy Jokes in Chinese to Impress Your Mandarin-speaking Friends

We all know that a good conversation is more than just your average introductions and Q&As.

While this can be a challenge even in your native language, you probably don’t want your conversational Chinese to come across as formulaic or forced, either.

To really sound like you’ve immersed yourself in Chinese language and culture, you’ve got to go beyond your usual small talk.

And one fantastic way to keep everyone immersed in a conversation is by telling jokes—in Chinese!



1. The Hidden Costs of Marriage


We’ll ease you in with the simplest one out of the bunch, a joke with a punchline that’s understandable and funny in both Chinese and English.

(yí gè xiǎo hái ér wèn tā de bà bà: “bà ba, jié hūn xū yào huā duō shǎo qián?”)
A little kid asked his father: “Dad, how much does it cost to get married?”

(bà ba shuō: “ér zi, wǒ bù zhī dào. wǒ hái zài fù kuǎn!”)
The father said: “Son, I don’t know. I’m still paying!”

2. The Mistaken Identities of Spider-Man


This is another joke you’ll find floating around the web. There are actually three Spider-Man jokes, all of which make use of Chinese homophones, or words with the same pronunciation but different meanings.

Mistaken Spider-Man Identity #1

(wèn: shéi zuì zhī dào zhū?)
Question: Who knows pigs very well?

(dá: zhī zhū rén!)
Answer: I know, the pig-man!

Spider-Man in Chinese is 蜘蛛人 (zhī zhū rén), but if you don’t know that, you’re more likely to think of the characters “知豬人,” which translates to, “I know, the pig-man.” So the joke is pretty much referring to Spider-Man as a pig-man.

Mistaken Spider-Man Identity #2

(wèn: shéi shì zuì huài de chāo jí yīng xióng?)
Question: Who is the worst superhero?

(dá: shī bài de rén!)
Answer: A loser!

What does “shi bai de” sound like in English? Here, the joke utilizes the Chinese transliteration of “Spider” + Chinese translation of “Man,” which is “shi bai de” + 人 (rén).

When you apply different tones, “shi bai de” + 人 takes on different meanings. And in this case, the reason why Spider-Man is the worst superhero is because the homophone means “loser.”

Mistaken Spider-Man Identity #3

Let’s see what happens when we apply another set of tones to “shi bai de.”

(wèn: zhī zhū rén shì shén me yán sè?)
Question: What color is Spider-Man?

(dá: shì bái de rén!)
Answer: He’s white!

Assuming that the listeners know the homophone, the answer to this one is easier to guess than the second joke, since the clue really gives away the correct pronunciation of “shi bai de” + 人, meaning “white man” in this circumstance. Funny how different these Spider-Man jokes can be when you mix up the tones.

Try telling these three jokes in this exact sequence so that listeners can get it right by the time they hear the third one. Obviously, the jokes don’t make a lot of sense when translated into English, but they’re definitely witty in Chinese. It’s this level of playfulness that indicates your interest in and knowledge about the language.

3. The Perks of Being Married


Here’s another one for you that requires no additional explanation or contextual information:

(yí duì fū qī chū qù chī fàn. qī zi tū rán dà jiào: “a! wǒ wàng le guān wǎ sī, kě néng huì fā shēng huǒ zāi!”)
A married couple went out for dinner. Suddenly, the wife shouted: “Oh! I forgot to turn off the gas. There could be a fire!”

(zhàng fu què ān wèi tā shuō: “méi guān xì. fǎn zhèng wǒ yě wàng le guān xǐ shǒu tái de shuǐ.”)
To comfort her, the husband said: “It’s okay. Anyway, I also forgot to turn off the water faucet.”

4. The Class Orangutan


Just as we saw with the Spider-Man jokes, different Chinese characters can share the same pronunciation. These homophones provide numerous opportunities for jokes and puns.

Our next example is “xīng xīng,” the pinyin spelling of both 星星 and 猩猩, respectively translated as “star” and “orangutan.”

(kuài kǎo shì le, lǎo shī zài kè táng shàng bāng tóng xué men zuò zhòng diǎn tí shì. lǎo shī shuō: “zhè yì tí hěn zhòng yào, zài qián miàn huà xīng xīng.)
Before the test, the teacher was helping the students by focusing on the key topics of the lesson. The teacher said, “This topic is very important. Mark this section with a star.”

(xiǎo zhì huí dá shuō: “lǎo shī… kě bù kě yǐ yòng dǎ gōu de a, xīng xīng hǎo nán huà ò….”)
Xiao Zhi replied, “Teacher, may I use a checkmark? An orangutan is too hard to draw.”

5. How Well Do You Know Your Steak?


Another component of Mandarin is that certain characters can have multiple meanings depending on the context, another unique feature of Chinese jokes. In this example, the word 熟 (shú) means both “familiar” and “cooked well.”

(wèn: yí gè qī fēn shú de niú pái hé yí gè wǔ fēn shú de niú pái xiāng yù le. kě tā men què méi yǒu dǎ zhāo hu, wèi shén me?)
Question: A seven-minute (medium-well) steak and a (medium) five-minute steak meet on the street, but they didn’t say hello to each other. Why?

(dá: yīn wèi dōu bù shú!)
Answer: Because they both aren’t familiar with each other!

Similar to a couple of the jokes mentioned earlier, this one loses its meaning when translated into English.


There are tons of other jokes out there, with many that require a deeper understanding of characters, specifically how they’re written, what radicals are used, etc. Chinese character riddles can get pretty complex, so it’s best to start with these jokes before you progress to more advanced wordplay.

With more reading and writing practice, you’ll be wowing your peers with all kinds of puzzles and puns in Chinese. And before you know it, you’ll be fluent enough to translate your own jokes into Chinese.

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