USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘narrative joke’
Folk speech
Humor
Narrative

Joke: The Doctor and his Chauffeur

Informant: “So there is this doctor and he’s famous, he’s not super-duper famous, but he’s pretty famous. He gives quite a few talks and all these things. He’s got one particular talk that he gives a lot which is sort of his spiel, people like it, he’s sort of got it down. He has a chauffeur who always drives him around to his various speeches and things like that, and this chauffeur sits in the audience at uh for all of his speeches, he just sort of waits around. So one day, in the car, the doctor says to the chauffeur, ‘you know you’ve probably heard my speech tons of times and you probably know it by heart right now. I’ve given this speech a lot, you know its good, but I’m a little bored of it, why don’t you for once just go up on the stage and you pretend to be me and you give the speech,’ and so the chauffeur says ‘ok, yeah sure, I’ll do that.’ And, he accepts the offer and so for the next speech they go there and the doctor puts on the chauffeur’s outfit and the chauffeur dresses like the doctor and pretends to be him. And so, he goes there and the doctor sits in the audience as the chauffeur and the chauffeur gets up onstage and starts giving the talk. So he begins, and its going well, its good, he’s got it all down, it’s clear that he’s listened to this speech a lot of times, and so he’s getting towards the end, and its all perfect, and it gets to the end and… he nailed it, all well. So its all good, applause, nobody could tell it was not the doctor. The audience loves it, and it goes to the question and answer session as it usually does, you know, fairly typical questions. And then, one person raises their hand and then they ask a question that’s never been asked before. So, the chauffeur is up there on stage and he is thinking, and then he says to the person… that is the stupidest question I have ever heard in my life, even my chauffeur could answer it.”

 

The informant is a young man who comes from Mission Hills,San Diego and describes himself as relatively “quiet and introverted” and “nerdy.” The informant is a sophomore neuroscience major at USC and works in a neuroscience image and understanding lab, which focused on visual research. It was from the professor in this lab that the informant heard the joke. According to the informant, the professor he works for is “just filled with stories. I’ll go to say bye to him and he just tells me all this stuff.” According to the informant, he learned the joke when he was working in the lab; while they were discussing research, they got sidetracked and the professor told him this joke.

The informant likes this joke because “its got this long buildup and you chuckle at a few things because you think the joke is coming up, but its not. You wonder if the speech is going to work or not, you keep thinking something is going to go wrong, but it’s only at the end that you get the punchline… Its superb. My professor’s told me a lot of things, not a lot stuck, but that did.” The informant uses this joke around friends to “break the ice.”

This joke utilizes a particularly long narrative form, and it gains part of its humor from the suspense that it creates. As the informant said, this joke has a particularly long buildup which defies expectations and is why the informant found it so funny.

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