Vienna versus Irony

A Guide to Taking Advantage of the Viennese's Failure to
understand Self-Iriony for Pissing Him or Her Off

Within Austria, Viennese are clearly not the most popular breed of people. In terms of their sense of humour, they have a reputation for either being very vulgar ("Wiener Schmäh") or very dry and sober folks. What I always found amazing was that they seem to be 100 percent free of any sense of self-irony.

Not Viennese, but not big joker nonetheless: 'Mr. Miserable' Georg Trakl.The art of making joking-sophisticated understatements the way they are common practice in England, is absolutely confusing - if not even insulting - to Viennese. However, this gives you a wonderful handle on driving a Viennese mad.

Viennese are proud of their wonderful hospitals, which are of course among the best in the World. After all, Vienna has produced some Nobel laureates in physiology and medicine as little as 80 years ago. Viennese make fun of people from "the provinces" for not having access to proper medical institutions - as if Western Austrians would have to be flown to the hospital by helicopters like in the Australian outback.

The Recipe: How to piss off a Viennese

1.) Find a Viennese of your choice. Ideally somebody who has never lived anywhere outside of Vienna - that won′t be difficult. Most Viennese have never lived anywhere else. It works best with people of slightly higher education. Embark upon a conversation on life and the medical tradition in Austria.

2.) Strike the point that the life expectancy in Vienna is the lowest of all provinces and increases the further you go to the West. Make fun of it in some way. This is likely to result in an offence. It gets better.

3.) Force him or her to admit that this is mostly due to overweight and heavy smoking in Vienna and NOT because of bad medical supplies. This will piss him or her off even further, as he or she is Viennese and thus likely to either smoke, be chubby, or both. At least, he or she will have fat, smoking relatives and friends.

4.) Finally devastate him or her by pointing out that the infant mortality is the highest in Vienna and gets lower the further you go west in Austria. Which implies that the hospitals aren't that great after all, since newborn babies are neither fat nor smokers.

The best thing about this is that the two sources for this game - hard facts from the Federal Bureau of Statistics (Statistik Austria) and the self-esteem / arrogance of Viennese - are of endless supply for sequels. Be it academia, crime rates or unemployment - the West wins in a wide range of disciplines.

Just take care not to get too much into the fact side; making fun is a lot more productive in eliciting hostility than serious discussions.

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Sightseeing in other Provinces

Bregenz and Vorarlberg - Innsbruck and Tyrol - Salzburg - Linz & Upper Austria - Salzkammergut - Graz and Styria - Klagenfurt and Carinthia - Wachau and Lower Austria - Vienna - Burgenland

Further Reading

Statistik Austria: Federal Bureau of Statistics

Disgusted by Vienna: Why I dislike the City

Official website of the Vienna Tourist Information

Crappy 10: The Worst Places of Austria