“The Aggie Joke would be: How many Aggies does it take to change a lightbulb?
And the answer is: One, plus twelve to turn the ladder.
And this has an interesting context to me because polish jokes were the same, or very similar. For example, in the lexicon of south-side of Chicago, it would be how many “polacks” does it take to change a ladder. That was how people used to take before political correctness. I grew up in Chicago and of course and it was very ethnically divided and intense city like New York, or many other places in the country where a lot of immigrants came, and there were a lot of specific neighborhoods: the Polish neighborhood, the Lithuanian neighborhood, the Italian neighborhood, the Irish neighborhood, and they all had their own Church, and if you were Polish you didn’t walk across a couple of streets to go to the Italian Church and everybody kind of kept in their own little neighborhood or enclave. And back in the day, when I was growing up, of course political correctness had not reared its head, and so it was very common and not really thought much of for people to refer to people of other nationalities in a way that would today be considered horrible. You would never today call an Italian person a “dago”, you wouldn’t call an Irish person a “mick” you wouldn’t call a Jewish person a “kike,” but that was very common back then and nobody thought much of it, so that kind of language is no longer acceptable.”
Informant: the informant was born in Chicago, and attended high school and college there, graduating with a degree in English. After marrying and having one child, she moved to Dallas, Texas where she raised three children with her husband. She is of Irish descent, her father being from Ireland, and her mother was born in Wisconsin after her parents moved from Ireland, and her heritage and tradition are very important to her. She is a grandmother of five children.
To me, it seems like the cultural context of this joke is well-captured by the informant. Aggies, which is a name given to those who attend Texas A&M University, are usually considered to be their own group of people. If you attend A&M, as people refer to it in Texas, you are an Aggie and are now associated with that group of people. There has long been a rivalry between the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M, a rivalry that could have given way to Aggie jokes.
It is fitting that the Aggie joke fits that of the Polish joke that the informant, who is seventy-six years old, was used to. The joke was meant to be derogatory toward a specific group of people. Within the context of the informant’s age it was the Polish group, because this was a time in Chicago when ethnic groups kept to themselves and formed groups and lived in the same neighborhoods. Because it is meant to point-out how one group is slow-witted, this joke is especially belittling.
Therefore, in the state of Texas, it is no surprise that such a joke would be made with the Aggies as the subject. This is due to the rivalry with the University of Texas, because it has often been understood that it is harder to get into the University of Texas than Texas A&M, giving way to “dumb Aggie” jokes like this one. To me, this emphasizes how a joke pointed at one group can be changed to target another group, thereby continuing to be popular despite the changing times. Although it is no longer directed at Polish groups, this joke is still able to be told because it points at Aggies, something that is culturally accepted, especially in Texas. This demonstrates how a joke can keep its basic framework but vary in context and change to fit the modern culture.