“So, a panda walks into a bar. He goes up to the bartender and orders some bamboo, and then the panda eats it. He then draws a gun and shoots up all of the place at the restaurant. When the bartender asks why, the panda tosses him an encyclopaedia and says “I’m a panda, look it up.”. The bartender opens the book and find the panda entry. The entry reads “panda: black and white bear, native to china. Eats shoots and leaves.”
This joke is a play on words, as the panda eats bamboo shoots and bamboo leaves, but in this joke it has the panda eating, then shooting a gun, and then walking out. It follows the format of someone or something walking into a bar, and was told to my informant by her nephew. It has spread widely and there are many variations of it, such as the one in an article on The Economist website on April 25th, 2013, in an article named “A man walked into a bar…”. The one in The Economist has the panda shooting at patrons, rather than dishes, possibly indicating that the joke told to my informant had been adapted for children, as her source was a child. It’s the kind of play on words that children seem to enjoy in Western cultures, in their process of understanding that grammar and words can mix to create different meanings.