“My old anthropology teacher got this from her old anthropology teacher, but they say ‘to be an anthropologist, you have to be a little crazy,’ because, well, we spend a lot of time dressing up in other cultures.”
This occupational proverbial joke came from a classmate with whom I exchanged lore. She herself is an Anthropology major, explaining the specifics of this telling. However, I have heard the exact same setup, “you have to be a little crazy to be a ____,” used for just about any profession you can think of. The multiplicity and variation of this piece of folklore come across in the universal applicability of the joke.
Although this joke may seem self-deprecating at first, it is really a way for people to take pride in their profession. The meaning is not, “we’re all crazy,” but “we are willing to drive ourselves a little crazy because we care so much about doing to work because we know it is important.” The fact that my informant heard this from her professor demonstrates its practical uses. As well as simply communicating pride, telling occupation folklore like this can help bring others into the community. By telling my informant this joke, and emphasizing its longstanding history through the ‘original’ source, her professor likely helped instill in her a respect for the field of anthropology and those who practice it.