USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘children’s joke’
Childhood
Humor
Narrative

Boy Named Butt Itches (Children’s Joke)

[The subject is CB. Her words are bolded, mine are not.]

Context: CB is one of my friends, and a sophomore student in college. Both of her parents are lawyers in the military, so she was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, but has also lived in Germany, Kansas, and Oregon. The following is a joke that she heard from a friend around third grade, but has remembered to this day.

CB: Um, there’s a boy named Butt Itches. And his mom named him Butt Itches, yeah. And, uh, he’s about to start school, and he goes to school for the first day, and his teacher’s like, “What’s your name?” And he’s like, “My name is Butt Itches.” And the teacher’s like, “That’s not really your name, like, that’s a fake name,” and he’s like, “No, really, that’s my name.” And she’s like, “You know what, if you don’t tell me your real name, I’m going to send you to the principal’s office,” and he’s like, “No, my name is Butt Itches,” and she’s like, “Go to the principal’s office.”

So, then he goes to the principal, and the principal’s like, “What’s your name?” And he’s like, “My name’s Butt Itches.” And, um, the principal’s like, “No way is that your name, like, tell me your real name,” and, uh, he’s like, “No, really, my name is Butt Itches.” And the principal says, “Okay. If you don’t tell me your real name, I’m gonna call the police.” And, um, he’s like, “My name’s Butt Itches,” and so he calls the police, and the police come, and they hold a gun up to him. And they’re like, “Tell me your name!” and he’s like, “My name’s Butt Itches!” And they’re like, “That’s not your real name! Tell me your name!” And, uh, he says, “No, my name’s really Butt Itches,” and they say, they say, “If you don’t tell me your name, we’re gonna shoot you,” and he’s like, “My name’s Butt Itches,” so they shoot him, and he dies, and right at that moment, his mom is walking by, and she runs up to him and she says, “Oh, my poor Butt Itches!” And the police officer says, “Would you like me to scratch it for you?”

Thoughts: This joke is very clearly a children’s joke, and one of the most obvious signs of this is that it uses tabooistic vocabulary, which is popular in children’s folklore. Beyond that, though, it reveals more about how children look at the world: the antagonists in the joke are all authority figures, and the child, who is the protagonist, is not really doing anything wrong by telling them his name, but he is punished by them anyway, which is how children may feel when they are punished. It also displays a childlike idea of how levels of authority work in society, with the teacher ranking under the principal, who ranks under the police, which are the ultimate authority because they have the power to punish children the most severely, which, in a child’s mind, would be by killing them. The punchline of the joke is also a kind of dirty tabooistic humor which would understandably make the joke more enjoyable for children, and in addition to all this, I can tell that the joke is from a Western culture because it is told in three levels, with Butt Itches having to defend himself to three different audiences before something happens.

Humor

I have to go to the bathroom.

“Knock, knock”

“Who’s there?”

“Banana”

“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.

Childhood
Humor

Perica i roda (Perica and the stork)

TK is my dad and he likes jokes. It was a part of his culture growing up and he always likes to have a nice laugh.

 

Every summer we my family and I would go to Iž for our vacation. Iž is an island in Croatia. Usually to pass time in the car on our way there we play games, tell jokes and on one of those rides he told us this one.

 

Perica and his mom are on their way to the zoo. While in the car Perica asks:

“Mama, will we see the stork in the zoo?”

His mom answers:

“Of course Perice.”

All happy and with a smile on his face Periсa replies:

“Great! I wonder if he will recognize me!”

 

This joke is funny because of the fact that storks are associated with delivering babies. Many children get siblings before they are ready for “The Talk” but their curious nature means parents have to tell them something. Because of their long history associated with babies and family, storks are an easy story to tell kids sometimes. Perica wondering will the stork recognize him because he is all grown up now and not a baby anymore as when the stork supposedly delivered him to his parents. I like this joke because it is appropriate for all generations and proves that it doesn’t have to have offensive language or be insulting to be funny.

Childhood
Humor

Planetary Fun

“Your mom is so fat, she plays pool with the planets.”

The informant heard this joke during recess. Boys his age were trading jokes on the playground. Their juvenile jokes were not meant to be taken seriously as personal insults to each other’s mothers; rather, they were meant as non-unique, verbal teasing following the popular format of the “your mom” type of joke. The boys did not have specific targets for their teasing in mind. Instead, they shared humorous remarks that utilize blanket insults that could be applied to any target, regardless of personal qualities of the intended recipient. This type of joke telling with the “your mom” format seems limited to only children. They seemed to have performed these jests in a lighthearted spirit of fun. Moreover, this activity of swapping jokes allows for their social bonding through laughter.

[geolocation]