Tag Archives: bar

An Irishman Walks Into a Bar

This informant grew up in San Diego, CA.  He is a freshman business student at USC.  I asked him to tell me his best folk joke he had and this is the first one he thought of.

One day an Irishman walks into a bar and orders two pints of Guinness.  The bartender denies the man, explaining that he only serves one drink per person at a time. 

The Irishman replies, “The second drink isn’t for me, it’s for my brother.  See, we both grew up on our family farm in Ireland and every day we used to hit the local pub after work and get a pint together.  One day my father passed away and left us the farm, but eventually the farm could no longer support the both of us.  Being the younger son, I decided to move to America to try my hand at fame and riches.  But before I left we both promised each other to always continue drinking two pints at the local pub after work.” 

The bartender sympathizes with the Irishman’s story and pours him his two Guinness’s.  This goes on for a few weeks, until one day the Irishman comes in and only orders one drink. 

The barman says, “I don’t mean to intrude, but is your brother alright?” 

To which the Irishman replied, “O ya, he’s fine.  I just quit drinking.”

This joke is a variation of the ever popular “…walked into a bar” jokes.  It plays on the stereotype that Irish people love to drink.

Panda Joke

“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.

Peanut joke


“So a man was sitting alone at a bar and he kept hearing this whispering that said “hey nice shoes” he looked around and nobody was there he heard “You look nice today” he looked around nobody was there. Then he finally asked the bartender “Am I hearing anything?” and the bartender said, “it’s the peanuts. They’re complementary”


My informant loves to tell this joke because it’s clean and it’s a pun.

Puns are a way of playing with language in a way that messes with how similar words can mean very different things.  In this joke, complementary means both free and giving complements.  I’ve heard lots of jokes where the bartender responds with a pun. It is a popular genre where the idea is that the bartender is the one who knows what is going on while the patron is confused or, a similar one, is where the bartender acts as the frame for the joke.  This may be because a bartender is expected to be the one in control of a bar. They are the ones who control the intake of alcohol and are there to interact with the patrons.

Bar Stool

 Billy Echols-Richter

Houston, Texas

April 9, 2012

Folklore Type: Joke

Informant Bio: Billy is my uncle on my mother’s side. He is a Methodist Pastor, and a hilarious and friendly person and/or kid. He recently did a sermon series using Dr. Seuss. I have recently discovered he could be considered the family story teller because he learned all of my grandfather’s stories, jokes, and songs.

Context:  During this past summer of 2011 my grandfather on my Mom’s side passed away. Then recently my grandfather on my Father’s side passed away, and my Uncle Billy stayed with us and did the funeral service. He, my parents, and I were all talking. Then all of a sudden he started telling jokes his father used to tell.

Item: Do you know what a bar stool is? That’s what Davey Crockett stepped in.


Informant Analysis: Let me see which one. I hear a certain word and it always kinda reminds of the punch line of some of those jokes. And he was always telling us those kinds of jokes. Well I think part of the deal was, 1 dad came from a big family. He was not the oldest and he was not the youngest and so between the eight of them they told lots of stories. They didn’t have a TV or anything and his dad was a good story teller. And people stopping through getting gasoline and that’s where you would hearthe latest story or gossip. Of course he was also in the military and that’s notorious for hearing all sorts of things. The last thing is work in the oil fields and he didn’t realy work in the fields well I guess at first he did. And workin in the fields you get lots of jokes. And there were still lots of racism. Lot of the jokes centered around African Americans, Hispanic, and even Cajun. What made me think about it was dad work in the oil fields was corpus and they were with a lot of Hispanic and Mexican Americans. It would be a racist riddle.

There’s two or three things. It certainly helps me have a joyful smile and just helps my dad stay with me. I had a sense that papa was with me with just the sense of things. I had a friend where my dad used to write me handwritten letters and when I read them I can still hear his voice. For these little rhymes or jokes I can hear my dad. I also think of family and how it came from my dad and his family and his dad. As silly as they are I’m a part of something much, much bigger than myself. I’m not the first to think it’s funny. It’s funny but at the same time there’s some depth to it. You know a lot of people have items that they pass on to people and special objects and what not, but the silly things we are talking about now they don’t ever get lost or deteriorate. You know now I try to pass them on to my kids, and some things they find funny and some they don’t. I think Julie finds some funnier now than when say she was Lawson’s age.


Analysis: This joke had more of a country tinge to it. It is a play on words with stool. The joke refers to a stool being poop and also a stool one sits on. The common inconvenience in steeping in poop combined with the reference to a bar sort of results in a subtle joke about Davey Crockett possibly being a bit of an alcoholic, although, it was probably told more for its vulgar effects than its subtleties.

Alex Williams

Los Angeles, California

University of Southern California

ANTH 333m   Spring 2012


A man walks into a bar…

A man walks into a bar and says “ow”

My informant overheard her roommate telling me a joke that started out with “a neutron walks into a bar…” and chimed in with this “walks into a bar” joke that she’d learned from one of her friends in high school.

This joke relies on the popularity of the “walks into a bar” structure. The joke works by using a familiar setup, but then switching the expected denotation of the word “bar.” From past experience with jokes based on this structure, the audience has been conditioned to expect that the man walks into an establishment which serves alcohol. Only after a moment of confusion does the audience realize that the “bar” in this joke uses a different definition of the word.

Chemistry joke: A neutron walks into a bar…

A neutron walks into a bar and orders a drink. When it tries to pay, the barman says, “for you, no charge”

My informant first learned this joke during Orientation at USC the summer before her freshman year. She introduced herself as a biochemistry major and another student responded with this joke. The other student told the joke as an attempt to connect with my informant over the only personal information he knew about her. My informant warned me that the joke was silly before telling it to me, but the silliness of the joke was what allowed it to work as an effective icebreaker. The very familiar structure of the joke contributes to its cheesiness. At first, the audience is confused at the absurdity of a neutron walking into a bar. The “no charge” punchline, though, validates the “walks into a bar” setup. The joke plays off two denotations of the word “charge”: an electrical charge and a requested payment. The joke requires only a basic knowledge of chemistry (a neutron has a net electrical charge of zero), so the teller could be confident that my informant, as a declared biochem major, would understand the joke, and that they could then laugh about (or at) it together.