Folk speech
Humor
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

The Polack who shot his dog

Q: Did you hear about the Polack that shot his dog?

A: He found out his wife had had an affair with his best friend.

My informant first heard this joke in the 1970’s when spending time with friends he had made while working for a Southern Californian electric company.  They were sitting around and decided tell each other all of the Polack jokes they knew.  This joke, like every other Polack jokes, capitalizes on the historical American conception of the Polish as dim-witted and uneducated.  However, currently Polack jokes aren’t used as much anymore.  Today, the Polish are well-educated, democratic leaders in Eastern Europe, and an ally.

Polack jokes are a popular form of Blazon Populaire, a type of humor which is based on the insulting another race of group of people.  This joke is clearly an example of blazon populaire, as it is a typical Polack joke that capitalizes on the belief that all Polish are unintelligent.  The best friend of the Polish man is a dog, and while dogs are traditionally a ‘man’s best friend’, they’re not supposed to be.  This represents that a standard Polish man does not have the capacity to make friends with other people, and that his time is best spent with an animal with a smaller brain and incapacity to communicate.  Also, the Polack must also believe that his wife would choose to have an affair with his dog, which is also dumb on the Polack’s part.

This joke works like many other jokes on the establishment of an appropriate incongruity in the punch line.  The incongruity is that the wife is sleeping with a dog, but it’s appropriate because it’s the Polack’s best friend.

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