Those Belgians Have a Sense of Humor
I never really thought of Belgium as a country of humor, but I saw it everywhere when we were in Brussels. I expected a few laughs from the peeing statues, but I was surprised at how many other things made me smile, giggle or just stare in disbelief. From comics to parks to food, the humor was everywhere. Luckily I love taking photos so I can share some of the laughs with you.
The Unintentionally Funny
I don’t think these were meant to be funny, but I got a laugh so I had to take a picture. Like the Chinese restaurant sign advertising one item I’d rather not taste.
I really don’t know what this one is. We saw this odd statue in front of a store while we were walking down the street, and there really are no words.
This funny sculpture was one of the first things I saw on our tour. It’s a cat on a bike, and it turns out it cost 100,000€. Maybe not so funny once you know how expensive it was.
Brussels knows it’s famous for a lot of food, and someone obviously decided to play this up. In the park across the street from the Royal Palace we saw several pieces of art depicting well-known Belgian food. And at least a few of them are for sale, though I can’t imagine how much one would cost or what you might do with such a large purchase.
There were several sculptures of fries, including one that actually had people’s legs sticking out of it instead of fries.
Then of course there were chocolate sculptures, one in the colors of Belgium’s flag.
And the sculptures of beer, Brussels sprouts, and a mussel with a waffle inside of it.
Many famous comics are from Belgium, although the most famous one to make it across the pond to the US are the Smurfs. The name changed a bit when it was translated into English, but the characters are still recognizable. (Apologies for the slightly blurry photos, three of these were taken through a glass window.)
Brussels has a really great Comics Center where you can see the history of comics through temporary and permanent displays. Since Belgium has more comic artists per square kilometer than any other country in the world, the comics center has become one of the most popular places to visit in Brussels.
Belgien Tourismus arranged for us to have a private lesson on drawing comics. Now, I can’t draw to save my life, so even with the step-by-step instructions on how to make a character look like he was walking, I was still struggling. Andy, on the other hand, was like a kid in a candy shop. This was his favorite part of our weekend, and he even won a book for having the best drawing in our group. You can read about his thoughts (and see his winning drawing) on the Comics Center here.
My comic was Super Backpacker, who battles against a tour bus filled with tourists who are ripping their way through 15 countries in 10 days. Our instructor said he had never seen anyone make a tour bus into a villain. Clearly a career involving drawing is not in my future.
It turns out Brussels is not only a city of culture, good food and beer, but a city humor as well. Their sense of humor was everywhere, and you couldn’t avoid it if you wanted to. Just take a stroll down the street or through a park, and the laughs will be right there waiting for you.
Thank you to Belgien Tourismus for hosting us! All opinions and bad drawing skills are my own.
September 13, 2012 @ 10:38 AM
You had me at comics. Asterix was one of my favorite comics when I was a kid. I was a fan of Tintin at the age of 12, decades before the movie came out and I’ve even got the entire 1992 series recently on Blu Ray – all 39 episodes of it.
I’d love to see the comics museum that you described. I think I’d be like a kid in a candy shop too although just like you I can’t draw to save my life either.
I see that you continued on with the beer theme a little in this post with the sculpture. I was wondering what you thought of the beer ad that I gave you the link for the other day.
September 13, 2012 @ 3:27 PM
I’ve never heard of those comics because I’m not sure if they ever made it to the US, plus I was never really that into comics anyway. But it was really interesting to learn about and to see the museum. If you do make it to Brussels, definitely go check it out, I’m sure you’ll love it.
We just got back from Portugal late last night/early this morning, so I just now tried to watch the YouTube. It comes up with a message saying I need to log in 🙁 A lot of videos get blocked in Germany, especially because of commercials, so I’m guessing that’s why.
September 13, 2012 @ 6:51 PM
Damn. It’s a really good ad to watch. Never mind. There will always be more beer ads to watch in the future. As for comics, I don’t blame you for not being into them all that much. I think it’s more of a guy thing to be into comics for some reason.
September 13, 2012 @ 9:20 PM
Definitely more a guy thing. It was Andy’s favorite part of the whole weekend, even beat out the beer tasting!
September 13, 2012 @ 1:14 PM
Love your photos, certainly made me smile. Would love some of those Smurf chocolate 🙂
September 13, 2012 @ 3:28 PM
Thanks Brenda! I’m kicking myself for not buying some of the Smurf chocolate!
September 13, 2012 @ 11:31 PM
Darn it! I missed out on going to the comic museum 🙁 I am a huge smurf fan. I did purchase the chocolates you took a picture of! I also got to see all of the statues from “brusselicious” of the frites and mussels. My favorite was the brussel sprout being carried by the stork. It is very cool to see your pictures!
September 13, 2012 @ 11:38 PM
Thanks Debra! The food statues were pretty cool, and I have to agree about the Brussels sprout one. Hopefully you can go back to Brussels someday and make a visit to the comics museum.
September 14, 2012 @ 10:09 AM
Love all the food sculptures! We didn’t see those when we visited back in 2010. And I had no idea the Smurfs were from Belgium! I totally grew up watching the Smurfs.
September 14, 2012 @ 2:15 PM
Yep, same here with the Smurfs, and I didn’t realize they were from Belgium either until we were there a few weeks ago.
September 14, 2012 @ 8:25 PM
I only spent 8 hours in Brussels and didn`t like it but it appears that I actually missed out on a lot of great things.
September 15, 2012 @ 11:27 AM
There’s definitely an interesting feel to the city once you walk around for awhile and start noticing things like this. French-style architecture mixed with Belgian humor made for a great atmosphere in my opinion.
September 15, 2012 @ 5:04 AM
Haha, great post! Any country that has the statue of little boy having a pee simply has to have a wicked sense of humour…
September 15, 2012 @ 11:31 AM
Exactly! I loved it! Thanks Simon.
September 15, 2012 @ 1:54 PM
How fun! I really need to spend more time in Belgium…
September 15, 2012 @ 2:19 PM
This was my first time in Belgium, and it makes me want to see more of the country.
September 16, 2012 @ 9:38 AM
I was indeed amazed that the sense of humor came out even without talking to people. Not that they have a sense of humor, of course everyone does, but that I GET it so easily. Although to be fair the Delicious Floor joke is definitely only something we would get. I can’t even imagine what they really mean.
September 16, 2012 @ 11:49 AM
I’m not sure I even get the Delicious Floor thing. WHY does the sign say that?
September 18, 2012 @ 6:46 AM
I am a fan of quirkiness so I love the chip “legs”.
September 18, 2012 @ 2:40 PM
I’m glad someone pointed it out to me while we were there because I almost missed it!
September 18, 2012 @ 9:49 PM
I love the food sculptures in the park, we were in Brussels for a day but missed these. What a funny thing to have in a park!
September 19, 2012 @ 3:36 PM
We probably would’ve missed it to if we hadn’t been at the Royal Palace earlier that morning. Definitely a different kind of thing for a park!
September 20, 2012 @ 5:06 AM
Hahaha. Did you go check out that “delicious floor”?
September 20, 2012 @ 2:32 PM
Unfortunately no, they were closed when we saw the sign and then never had a chance to walk by again.
September 24, 2012 @ 2:10 AM
Great Post! They are incredibly quirky!
September 24, 2012 @ 3:17 PM
Thanks! It’s a fun city, I hope you make it there for a beer tasting!
November 24, 2013 @ 3:17 PM
I think that what you call “the odd statue” is inspired by the Belgian comics “The Adventures of Tintin : Red Rackham’s Treasure”.
If you are still interested by humor in Belgian towns, I will add some funny things :
– De Vaartkapoen, the most funny statue in Brussels (according to me)
– Museum Magritte because his paintings are funny too
– The Maca in Wavre (people say that touching the ass of the statue brings luck)
– The Doudou in Mons (a very strange, popular and old evenement that consists in the murder of a dragon)
– The Singe de Mons (people say that touching its head brings luck and some celebrities like the emperor of Japan did it)
November 24, 2013 @ 4:24 PM
Thanks Jeremy! We actually skipped the Magritte museum because we’re not big fans of art museums, but maybe we’ll have to check it out next time we’re in Brussels. I just looked up the rest, I can’t believe how many more odd things we missed in Brussels! It’s a great city, and we’ve already been back once since the trip described in this post, so there’s a good chance we’ll return again someday. We’ll definitely have to look for these!