Saturday, April 20, 2024

Why everyone is laughing at these Mexican memes

What are the funniest memes making the rounds in Mexico? Honestly, we don’t know.

But hey – we do have some good ones!

So welcome, one and all, to this week’s installment of “What Does It Meme?”, Mexico News Daily’s bimonthly collection of humorous memes in Spanish, complete with Spanish to English translations and explanations. 

So take a load off, learn some Spanish, and have a good laugh!

Meme Translation: “Alexa, whistle at the corn guy.”

What does it meme? Most of us are now familiar with Alexa, the smart home AI assistant. She’s starting to catch on (albeit slowly) in some Mexican homes, too!

Alas, there are some things Alexa can’t do, like stick her head out the front door and whistle to get someone’s attention.

That’s too bad, because the elote guy’s attention is something you want. If you don’t make it out of your house on time, he might just pass you by! Who is “al de los elotes”? He’s a guy who pushes around a cart of delicious corn on the cob (usually steamed), as well as kernelled corn for cups (in that presentation it’s called “esquite.”) An “elote” is corn on the cob with all the fixings, which in Mexico includes mayonnaise, lime, cheese, and picante (powdered spice; you can also ask for “el que no pica” – the one that’s not as spicy). Until Alexa grows legs, flagging down the elotes is up to you!

Meme Translation: “When I’m old I’m going to be super cool, not some bitter old man.” “Me, old: ‘Assholes.’” (“Al chile,” the symbol in the upper corner, means something like “for real” or “seriously”, by the way…don’t ask me what it’s doing there).

What does it meme? My partner sent me this one after an extended laugh; he’s not yet 40, but has often said he already feels like an old man in a young person’s body. 

I’ve got to admit, I sympathize with the dude in the meme…my goodness is it easy to get frustrated with random people, especially when they’re driving terribly! I’m working on relaxing my face from a permanent scowl when I’m on the road, but only Botox could hide it at this point, I fear.

Meme Translation: “Humans around a campfire…it’s cold and I’m starving, I could ask for something to eat. What’s the worst that could happen?” “10,000 years later”

What does it meme? This is one of my favorite memes, like, ever; I’ve seen it in English as well (lots of memes actually get translated and republished these days, which to me is the internet working the way it’s supposed to: spreading good laughs). The pictures might change, but there’s always a wolf on top and an assortment of derpy-looking dogs on the bottom.

I think of it every time the temperature dips below 70 degrees Fahrenheit and all the dogs in my neighborhood are immediately outfitted with sweaters. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

Meme Translation: “Lesbian: a woman who likes another woman.” “Gay: a man who likes another man.” “Puto: the one who’s reading this.

What does it meme? Well, we’ve got to have at least one kind of offensive meme in the stack! The last line is a very old joke, similar to the “For a good time, call…” messages seen on US bathroom walls for decades. “Puto” is a derogatory term used for gay men, which is why I didn’t translate it to that above; it also connotes prostitution (“puta,” its female equivalent, means “whore”).

I don’t recommend that anyone use either of those words to insult someone, but I am proud to have introduced you to one of Mexico’s oldest vulgar jokes. You’re welcome!

Meme Translation: 🎶 “My first jooooob…” 🎶

What does it meme? Now let’s swim back up through the decades to arrive at a much more recent meme, usually shown in video fmemeorm; here’s a compilation of typical examples

Here’s how it goes: there’s a kind of silly song called “Mi Primera Chamba” (My First Job), and it’s always set to videos of people failing spectacularly and hilariously at their jobs. 

Cynicism about humanity and the state of the world right now seems to know no bounds, so God creating humans (unfortunately) seems to fit the genre just fine.

Meme Translation: “Good herb – yerba buena.” “The band – lavanda.” 

What does it meme? In Mexico, we like to play around with terrible translations as much as anyone, and they can be extra funny when they’re literal.

Yerba buena” is the Spanish name for the spearmint plant, which I find adorable – the person who named it must have either really liked it, or just not known much about botany (“yerba mala,” for the record, is what they call weeds). But “good herb” is indeed the literal translation and a good example of why you shouldn’t trust literal translations.

Lavanda” is the word for lavender; “la banda” (pronounced the same, as there’s hardly a distinction in the way “v” and “b” are pronounced here) is a kind of funny and super casual way to say “the guys” or “the group,” in addition to, of course, an actual band…people even sometimes kind of narrow their eyes and slow their speech to say it, doing their best imitation of a hippie high on pot. 

Meme Translation: “Tlaloc likes it when you offer your recently washed clothes to him in sacrifice.”

What does it meme? When it comes to hanging your laundry out to dry around here, Murphy’s Law seems to kick in every time. There might not be a cloud in the sky when you hang it, then an hour later, boom: it’s drizzling and the sky is threatening more.

But here’s a more fun way to look at it: a sacrifice to the old Aztec god Tlaloc, god of rain! Hopefully, all those freshly washed clothes please him and he’ll bless us by warding off drought and water shortages. Keep those sacrifices coming, people!

Sarah DeVries is a writer and translator based in Xalapa, Veracruz. She can be reached through her website, sarahedevries.substack.com.

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