USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘occupation’
Humor
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Lawyer Hunting

Informant: So, a man runs into his buddy, and he sees that his friend’s car is totaled. Just—[makes face to indicate car is not in great shape]  leaves and dirt and branches all over the front. The windshield is shattered. There’s some blood.

And so he asks his friend, “What on earth happened to your car?”

“Well,” the friend says, “I ran over a lawyer.”

“A lawyer?” [informant alternates tone to indicate change in speaker]

“A lawyer.” [solemn nod of head]

“I guess that explains all the blood,” the man says. “But, I mean, what about the leaves and dirt and branches?”

And his friend goes, “Well, I had to chase him through the park.”

The informant (my dad) is a particularly self-deprecating lawyer. While he does take pride in his work, he often admits that he only went to law school because his father had been a lawyer, and the informant had “no idea what to do with [his] life” after he graduated from college. The informant currently works at a law firm in San Francisco (he recently changed firms, after his former firm became too large and very corrupt. I suspect the series of lawyer jokes he told me were told with some of his old colleagues in mind.) This joke was told to my family over the dinner table, and was very much enjoyed by my mom (also an attorney).

This joke, which the informant picked up from another lawyer, plays on the idea that every hates—or at least distrusts—attorneys, enough to get a laugh out of the idea that someone would go to such an extent to run one down with his car.

Humor
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

“Skeet”

Informant: What do you call twenty skydiving lawyers?

Me: I don’t know. What?

Informant: Skeet.

 

The informant (my dad) is a particularly self-deprecating lawyer. While he does take pride in his work, he often admits that he only went to law school because his father had been a lawyer, and the informant had “no idea what to do with [his] life” after he graduated from college. The informant currently works at a law firm in San Francisco (he recently changed firms, after his former firm became too large and very corrupt. I suspect the series of lawyer jokes he told me were told with some of his old colleagues in mind.) This joke was told to my family over the dinner table, and was very much enjoyed by my mom (also an attorney).

This joke, of course, plays on the negative stereotypes surrounding lawyers. Nobody really likes lawyers; at least, nobody trusts them. Skeet, for those who are unfamiliar, is a recreational and often competitive form of shooting. Participants use shotguns to take down clay disks (or “clay pigeons”). The informant, despite having many lawyer jokes in his arsenal, is especially fond of this one, and likes to end the performance of it by pantomiming the act of aiming a shotgun at the sky and then making a pt, pt, pt sound (shooting) followed by mock wailing (from the lawyers).

Humor
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

California’s Lawyer Problem

Informant: Why did New Jersey get all the toxic waste and California all the lawyers?

Informant: New Jersey got to pick first.

The informant (my dad) is a particularly self-deprecating lawyer. While he does take pride in his work, he often admits that he only went to law school because his father had been a lawyer, and the informant had “no idea what to do with [his] life” after he graduated from college. The informant currently works at a law firm in San Francisco, CA (he recently changed firms, after his former firm became too large and very corrupt. I suspect the series of lawyer jokes he told me were told with some of his old colleagues in mind.) This joke was told to my family over the dinner table, and was very much enjoyed by my mom (also an attorney).

This joke in particular is one the informant might connect to because he is stationed in California (the same state in which his wife works as a lawyer and his father worked as a lawyer). He is also very aware of the negative stereotypes surrounding his profession, and finds enjoyment in laughing about how truly awful some of the people he’s had to work with have been (though the informant also admits that many lawyers are, in fact, “extraordinarily decent people”). This joke seemed to be particularly active in California; the informant said it’d been told to him by three different colleagues on three separate occasions.

In addition, I discovered this joke was published (word for word) in a joke book.

Citation: Arnott, Stephen, and Mike Haskins. Man Walks into a Bar: Over 6,000 of the Most Hilarious Jokes, Funniest Insults, and Gut-busting One-liners. Berkeley, CA: Ulysses, 2007. Print.

Folk speech
Proverbs

Business Proverb

My informant is a senior in the Marshall School of Business.  He emphasizes in finance and spent his last summer as an investment banking summer analyst at Morgan Stanley.  I knew bankers had lots of stereotypes and figured he would have some interesting occupational folklore.  He gave me this proverb:

It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

He went on to explain that his boss had given him this piece of advice during his first week on the job.  It wasn’t necessarily meant for his internship because that was mostly about learning and questions were welcomed and encouraged, but it was more for his future career.  I interpreted it similarly to “Never be afraid to fail.”  This proverb attests to the go-getter, competitive mindset of investment bankers.

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