The purpose of this paper is two-fold: (1) to problematise the overly affiliative interpretations of English as lingua franca (ELF) interactions across all contexts and combinations of people, and demonstrate instances where this is not the case; (2) to explore the role of laughables and laughter in cases where interlocutors orient to and make salient an interdiscursive divergence among them (Scollon and Scollon, 2001). In the data presented here, a divergence in social norms is in one extract made salient as a point of difference among interlocutors, and in two other examples a potential divergence in social norms is treated as if it were the case but not confirmed. These instances are dealt with through laughables and laughter sequences. Sequential analysis of these naturally occurring audio-recorded conversations indicate that participants make salient and orient to what is in their experience deviant from their learned norms and expectations of behaviour without consistently exhibiting affiliative interactional and relational work throughout the interactions. The result of this study has important implications to the way in which ELF interactions can be interpreted and described going forward.