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I have to go to the bathroom.

“Knock, knock”

“Who’s there?”


“Banana who?”

“I have to go to the bathroom”

This knock knock joke was collected in a second grade classroom in South Los Angeles. The active carrier of this joke was a student in that classroom who heard it from her neighbor while playing one day. After finishing the joke, the entire class burst out in laughter at the nonsensical punchline. It should be noted that the joke told to the class right before had a logical punchline, but did not receive such an enthusiastic response. The less successful joke was “Don’t trust atoms, they make up everything”.

There are a few reasons why this joke received such a great response compared to the one that preceded it. First of all, it was clear that the majority of the young students lacked the scientific background that was required to understand the joke. The bathroom joke did not require the application of any outside knowledge. Second, the unexpected nature of the punchline was worthy of a greater response than a logical joke would, regardless of what it actually was. There is something about being caught off guard that makes any story or joke more worthy of a response. Perhaps the most obvious reason that the knock knock joke was considered to be funnier is the fact that it contains a mention of a bathroom. Bathroom humor is inherently funny to a large portion of the human population, regardless of age.

This joke is a derivation of a classic joke in which the second, third, and fourth lines are repeated as many times as the performer sees fit before replacing “banana” with “orange” and ending with “Orange you glad I didn’t say banana”. The countless versions of this joke are examples of the multiplicity and variation that is characteristic of folklore.

It is important to note that this joke had been passed on from child to child. The student who shared the joke initially heard it from her neighbor while playing. She then shared the humorous passage with her classmates who received it with enthusiasm. This piece of folklore circulates exclusively within groups of children and would not have elicited the same genuine response if performed in front a group of adults.



Q: What kind of underpants do clouds wear?
A: Thunderwear.

This joke was collected in a second grade classroom in South Los Angeles. The performer was a student in this class. Immediately after sharing this, another student volunteered to share a joke. He stated the exact same question and the other students said nothing about the repetition that had just taken place. The class waited for the punchline which ended up being “Thunderpants”. The second joke received the same enthusiastic response as the first.
This was a first-hand example of the adaptation of folklore. It illustrates how rapidly changes can occur. It was a matter of seconds before the same joke was made into a completely separate one. This adaptation demonstrates how the horizontal model of folklore functions. One person tells a joke to one person and that person then passes is onto someone else. What is different in this situation is the fact that the original transmitter and the second one performed in front of the same audience. The entire class was provided with two versions of the same joke. It would be interesting to witness how they told the joke to someone who was not present at the time of the original performance.
It is important to note that both punchlines meant the exact same thing, they were just expressed differently. Still, though, the audience of young students did not point out the similarities. Because this was a very short joke, it would be rather difficult to add anything or change it in any way. It would be interesting to see how this kind of rapid adaptation would go over in a group of adults. They would surely pick up on the repetition and point it out.