“This record definitely takes those ideas and says, ‘Well, nihilism in your 20s is very sexy, and very cool and well done, and maybe appropriate.’ As you get a little bit older, those postmodern, exciting ideas have to — do — start making way for more traditional values, which aren’t that sexy, which aren’t that hip-shaking. They’re responsibility, adulthood, these kinds of ideas,” Healy says. “What I’m asking on this record in the context of love is, can you find true love, versus all of this irony, all of this postmodernism, all of this… I don’t want to say neoliberalism but versus the internet, versus technology? Can we find true love in a way that we were culturally in pursuit of at the beginning of the 20th century?” Well, can we find true love now? “I don’t know,” he says. “It’s really hard.”

Despite what Healy says, being funny in a foreign language seems to think we can find love, at least for a while. To him, the ability to be funny in a foreign language is the height of sophistication. It means you must have empathy and the will to be vulnerable and human by taking the risk of getting it wrong. “I think the record is about striving for all of these quite ephemeral goals: love, happiness, oneness,” he says.

Can someone explain the sentences in bold to me? In this interview the frontman of a band is talking about his new album Being Funny In A Foreign Language.
I think what he’s saying is that to make a joke in a foreign language is to understand the feelings of other people in a foreign country (having empathy) about whom you try to make a joke, and have the will to be vulnerable, because the joke can fall flat or become something that insults other people who speak a different language. Is my interpretation right?

1 Answer 1


These paragraphs are pretty meandering and the thread is barely cogent, which is typical of newish writers in music magazines.

But anyway, your interpretation essentially suggests the reasons for the use of "empathy" and "vulnerable" in the bolded part, and they're perfectly valid reasons to suggest.

Whether they're the exact ones he had in mind can't be determined from this quote, but it seems reasonable to think they are. It would require more of the original interview being summarized here to be sure.

Now, if you can just equate those qualities with "sophistication", you'll have reconstructed a little bit of the logic of this writer's mind, and that'll be no small feat...

  • Thanks a lot for your thoughts. Sorry, I don’t really get what you meant by no small feat. Do you mean that if I can equate those qualities with sophistication, then I might be onto something?
    – whitewater
    Jul 17, 2022 at 14:07
  • @whitewater I mean that it's difficult to do so (and thus impressive if you do). Jul 17, 2022 at 15:17
  • I see. I get it. Thanks so much for your help
    – whitewater
    Jul 17, 2022 at 15:51

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