USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Joke’
Humor
Narrative
Tales /märchen

Poop Problems

Item (direct transcription):

So, what happens is… a guy… he’s having some… poop problems. Okay? He goes to the doctor and he says, “Doctor, there’s something wrong. What happens is, when I eat an apple I literally poop out the apple I just ate. Like, whole, you know. Like, it’s a frickin’ apple, you know what I mean? I eat a doughnut, it’s still a doughnut. Okay? I eat a—You get what I mean, Doc?!”

The doctor’s like, “So, yeah, uhh, what’s the problem?”

He’s like, “I can’t poop! Think about it: I eat food and it just goes straight out, whole!”

So the doctor’s like, “Have you considered just eating poo?”

Background Information:

The informant first heard this joke from a friend in 6th grade.

Contextual Information:

Interestingly, the informant doesn’t believe that the joke would only be appropriate to tell between children. On the contrary, he believes that this joke is an example of cross-generational “toilet humor.” When he was younger, he enjoyed sharing this type of joke with his father.

Analysis:

The joke has the qualities of a typical children’s joke focusing on obscenity play and absurdity. Human excrement is often a good topic for children’s humor, since it lends itself to these categories.

Also, the joke is genuinely rather witty.

Humor

Hitler and the Boston Bombers

Item (direct transcription):

What did the Boston bombers do that Hitler didn’t?

End the race.

Background Information:

The informant read the joke on 9GAG, an online social media site.

Contextual Information:

The informant made it very clear that he would only tell the joke to someone he knew very well and was confident wouldn’t be offended.

Analysis:

This joke fits the common pattern of jokes forming in response to tragic events. In this case, the effect is double, because the joke makes fun of tragedy of both the Boston Bombing and the Holocaust.

Humor

Bosco Tjan

Item (direct transcription):

So, the professor was something like a computer visions expert, right?

So the joke was, if he’s such a visions expert, why didn’t he see this coming?

Background Information:

The informant read this joke on Facebook; it was posted by someone from USC (the University of Southern California).

Bosco Tjan was a USC professor who was murdered by one of his students in 2016. The joke refers to those events.

Contextual Information:

The informant expressed that he would only tell the joke to someone he knew well and thought wouldn’t be offended.

Analysis:

This joke fits the common pattern of jokes forming in response to tragic events. Interestingly, though, in this case the event was not a national or widely publicized—it would only make sense to members of the USC community.

Thus, the joke is a counter-example to Christie Davies’ hypothesis from “Jokes That Follow Mass-Mediated Disasters in a Global Electronic Age” (from the book “Of Corpse: Death and Humor in Folklore and Popular Culture,” 2003). Davies claims that jokes about tragic events form as a counter-impulse to hegemonic pressure from the mass media (particularly television) to feel sorrow for strangers. There was no such hegemonic pressure after the murder of Bosco Tjan, yet this joke formed anyways.

Humor

Lobster Joke

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the performer (EC) and I (ZM).

EC: My favorite joke of all time…I think I told this on the Weekender. I tell it every year on the Weekender, but…What’s the difference between a dirty bus stop and a um lobster with implants? …One’s a crusty bus station and the other’s a busty crustacean.

ZM: (laughs) That took me a while. Did you come up with that one yourself?

EC: No, I saw it on Tumblr in like 2000 something (laughs)

 

Context: This was recorded after I asked EC if she knew any good jokes.

 

Background: EC is a sophomore studying at the University of Southern California.

 

Analysis:I liked the interplay between the Internet and oral tradition. A lot of the time I think of how oral tradition is transferred to the Internet but not really about how it could go the other way. In this case, EC read a joke on the Internet and continued to spread it orally for years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Customs
Humor
Initiations
Rituals, festivals, holidays

TMB Band Name: Cumquat

While interviewing my informant, Audrey, I decided to document her Band Name. She got her Band Name from the upperclassmen of her section in the Trojan Marching Band (TMB). Audrey is a member of the Mellophone section. I asked her to perform her band name to me as if she were asked to “introduce herself” by another member of the band:

 

Killian, who was sitting near Audrey during the interview, chimed in to start her off just as he would when asking another band member to introduce themself: “Who are you!?”

 

Audrey: “Once upon a time my name is Cumquat.”

 

Killian: “Why?”

 

Audrey “Because I Cum Quat-ly.”

 

My informant would usually perform this Band Name/Joke ritual in a social setting with other members of the TMB. Sometimes she is asked by alumni of the band who are interested in hearing the new Band Names their section has come up with. Members of the band also frequently ask each other because they are often humorous or come with humorous jokes attached. It is also used to test the band Freshmen to see if their jokes are up to par with the standard set by current band members.

 

According to my informant, everyone in the band has a Band Name that they have been dubbed by their older section members. The Band Names are different in each section. Some sections give their members short names that function as traditional nicknames (example: “Egg”). My informant was mostly able to give me knowledge of how the Mellophone section names its members.

 

My informant’s section gave her a strange because they have to figure out how it applies to them/ what the other section members know about them. My informant is not entirely sure why she is dubbed ‘Cumquat.’ She knows that it’s a reference to the movie xXx: Return of Xander Cage. Other than that, she is unsure why the older section members decided to call her that.

 

Analysis

I have seen my informant introduce herself on many occasions with a few different Name Jokes. The particular joke she gave me is about average compared to the usual raunchy, outrageous jokes the section normally uses, although it requires a little more thought to understand. I think this is a good representation of how Mellophone Name Jokes usually are. I personally enjoy this social band tradition. Everyone has a name, so it’s fun to get to know all the members of the band just to hear them. The tradition of Band Names also further unties the band as one entity.

 

Humor

Dark and Stormy Night Story

I interviewed Audrey when I met her in Everybody’s Kitchen, a USC dining hall. I asked if she had any folklore she wanted to share. She asked me if she could share a joke that she learned from her brother in elementary school. I allowed her to perform it for me, and then I wrote it out:

 

It was a dark and stormy night. The winds were rough. A man and his son sat on a boat in the sea. The man clings to the side of the boat, grabbing his son’s hand as the boat was tossed around in the water. The man says to his son, “We’re not going to make it, son.” The son says “Oh no.”

So the man says to his son, “Let me tell you a story before we die… It was a dark and stormy night. The winds were rough, and a man and his son sat on a boat in the sea. The man clings to the side of the boat, grabbing his son’s hand as the boat was tossed around in the water. The man says to his son, “We’re not going to make it, son.” The son says, “Oh no.”

So the man says to his son, “Let me tell you a story before we die… It was a dark and stormy night. The winds were rough, and a man and his son sat on a boat in the sea. The man clings to the side of the boat, grabbing his son’s hand as the boat was tossed around in the water. The man says to his son, “We’re not going to make it, son.” The son says, “Oh no.”

So the man says to his son, “Let me tell you a story before we die…”

 

I then asked my informant for more context of how she learned the joke and when she would tell it. She told me: “My brother was just messing with me. He waa like, ‘you wanna hear a story?’ And I was like, ‘okay.’ And we kept telling it even though we had all heard it. It just never stopped being annoyingly funny.”

 

Analysis

While I have never heard this particular shaggy dog story, I have heard many like it. I am a huge fan of shaggy dog stories because they easily annoy people. Actually, a couple friends had joined us at the table while I was collecting this piece, and one of them angrily left the table when he realized there was never going to be a punchline. It was also good collecting this particular piece with people around because we all got to communally enjoy the joke and laugh at it together.

 

general
Humor

Rice and Ancestors–Southern Folk Speech

Context:

Leighton Lord is my father. Given this relation to me, I was interested in procuring some folklore that both of us participated in, but obviously from his perspective as he and my mother were the ones who set the traditions that we followed. Another unique perspective he has is being instilled in Southern traditions after twenty two years spent in Columbia, South Carolina following his marriage to my mother, a native South Carolinian. He grew up in Delaware, and was fascinated upon arriving in the South and witnessing the obsession with tradition and particularly talk about ancestors. I collected several pieces of folklore from him during a recent trip he made to Los Angeles. He currently practices law.

Transcript:

Leighton: What do Charlestonians have in common with the Chinese? They both eat a lot of rice and talk about their ancestors.

Interpretation:

By Charlestonians, my father is referring to people from Charleston, South Carolina. He could not remember exactly where he heard this joke, having heard several versions of it, and even once seeing a cartoon with similar content. This was his simple synthesization. The joke is straight forward, explaining that both Southern culture and Chinese culture appreciate rice and ancestors. Though relying heavily on stereotypes, my personal experience confirms this Southern speech about ancestors. Folk stories of ones ancestors are often told at dinner parties.

Humor
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Joke: How To Get A Drummer Off Your Porch

For our discussion section, we were required to meet up with a fellow student and collect folklore from each other. LA is the person I collected from, PH is myself. Our conversation is as follows:

LA: I have jokes, if you want those.
PH: Oh, yeah.
LA: My childhood friend’s dad is this older Jewish punk dude and he had a lot of good jokes.

(pause)

Alright, so I have two drummer jokes which are frequently passed around for people in bands because we love to make jokes about drummers.

Number one: told to me a long time ago by a family friend who was in a punk band in the ‘90s.

What do you do to get a drummer off your porch?

PH: What?

LA: Offer to pay for the pizza.

The second joke collected is documented in its own post.

Humor
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Joke: How You Know A Drummer’s At Your Door

For our discussion section, we were required to meet up with a fellow student and collect folklore from each other. LA is the person I collected from, PH is myself. Our conversation began like this:

LA: I have jokes, if you want those.
PH: Oh, yeah.
LA: My childhood friend’s dad is this older Jewish punk dude and he had a lot of good jokes.
(pause)
Alright, so I have two drummer jokes which are frequently passed around for people in bands because we love to make jokes about drummers.

Then, the informant told me the first joke which is documented in a different post. Here is the second joke:

LA: Drummer joke number 2: told to me by my friend’s dad, he was also in a punk band in high school.
How do you know when a drummer’s at your door?

PH: How?
LA: ‘Cause the knocking speeds up and he doesn’t know when to come in.

Folk speech
Humor

Joke

“You ever hear what happened to the two guys who stole a calendar? The both got 6 months”

 

Background: Justin is 23 years old and both raised in and currently residing in Calabasas, CA.

Context:Justin used this joke at Passover dinner.

Analysis: Jokes are a very subjective form of entertainment and rely completely on your audience. I never tell jokes, so I always enjoy when someone else knows a bunch off the top of their head. Justin told this joke at a large family dinner, which is, in my opinion, the perfect audience for a quick, witty joke such as the one told. I almost enjoy an audience’s reaction to joke-telling more than the actual joke itself on occasion, because the delivery and timing is so crucial for the joke to be accepted as hoped.

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