Author Archives: klause

Icup Joke

Text: “Spell Icup”

Context: I guess I use it with friends to say “gotcha.” I probably learned it on the playground in the first grade or so from another kid saying it to me. The goal is to get someone to say “I see you pee” and then you can kinda laugh at them. I don’t really use it anymore just when I was a kid. I guess it’s kinda funny in a stupid way. If I ever used it now it would be ironic not really an actual joke.

Analysis: This phrase is an example of a catch/practical joke or “dupe.” It is an innocent and unassuming way to be able to laugh at someone and somewhat insult them without being subject to criticism for being rude. This joke also coincides with Freud’s Theory of Humor which claims humor begins with repression, where people must “swallow” emotions such as aggression or sexuality because they are not socially acceptable. Repression is followed by sublimation where people release this repressed energy often through humor because joking about these things is seen as more acceptable. This specific joke is possibly an example of sublimating repressed anger or insecurity towards someone else through insulting them or embarrassing them.

Gen Z Proverb

Text: If I shake this ass, this depression will pass.

Context: I would use this when I’m sad or consoling a sad friend. I probably learned it from another friend in like September of senior year. I’ve heard other people use it on Tik Tok. It makes me laugh when I’m depressed. I don’t think a lot of people would have heard it before.

Analysis: This proverb is likely meant to make someone laugh rather than offer serious advice. Still, if the issue trying to be solved is depression or sadness, making someone laugh can be part of the solution. It can be categorized as a proverb parody/metafolklore because it follows similar formatting and style as a traditional proverb, yet its message is quite ridiculous and not meant to be genuinely helpful. In this way, we might see some push back of Gen Z towards the more “serious” older generations whose traditional proverbs can now be seen as “cringy.” Furthermore, this proverb is also a form of dark humor, especially with the rise of mental health issues in Gen Z. As Bill Ellis outlines in chapter 2 of Of Corpse: Death and Humor in Folkore and Popular Culture, dark humor can be used to help people grieve and move forward from tragedy, just as humor was used to help many grieve 9/11. This proverb is an example of how Gen Z is trying to cope with the modern tragedies plaguing their generation.

John’s Mom Riddle

Text: John’s mom has four kids: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. What was the name of the fourth? (Answer: John)

Context: I would tell this if one of my peers asked me to tell a riddle. I learned in like elementary school, maybe fourth grade. I’ve seen it on Instagram before. The hope would be that whoever you’re telling it to says Thursday, and you would say “Ha! You’re wrong.” I feel accomplished when I use it.

Analysis: This riddle is an example of a “joke” or “catch” riddle because it is like a practical joke that has an expected response. This riddle was popular with kids because it empowers kids to have knowledge over others in this area, since they don’t have the upper hand of knowledge in most other areas. This riddle also correlates with the “rule of three” in American and Western culture which explains how many ideas and entities in folklore come in groups of three. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday is a clean and matching group of three, and when John is added to make four, it seems illogical and unexpected.

Patience is a Virtue Proverb

Text: Patience is a virtue.

Context: Probably learned it in elementary school from my second grade teacher. Probably, but I don’t really know. I would use it on myself as a reminder or on my other friends. It only works in English. I feel like a master, and it calms me. I just feel, like, smart. Helps to remind myself not to rush through things and also know that patience is hard to achieve because it’s a virtue.

Analysis: This proverb serves to give advice that seems more trustworthy than personally crafted words. By using this well-known phrase, it implies that many people agree with this advice and relies on this “vernacular authority.” This perspective is supported by F.A. de Caro in chapter 8 of Folk Groups and Folklore Genres: An Introduction which details how proverbs often employ cultural perspectives, rhymes, and literary devices to convey enduring messages that provide insights, guidance, or practical wisdom. Furthermore, using a proverb disclaims any individual blame, especially since simply telling someone to be patient could be seen as an insult or overstep.

Chinese Insult


  • Original Script: 成事不足 敗事有餘
  • Romanization: Cheng Shi Bu Zu Bai Shi You Yu
  • Transliteration: Complete things not enough fail things have sufficient
  • Translation: You’re not competent enough to accomplish important things, but when it comes to failing you’re really good at it.

Context: My mom taught me this. She didn’t really teach me this I guess, she used it to describe my brother. You normally use this when someone makes a stupid mistake. I think it’s funny. Definitely Chinese speakers would have heard it before. You use it to roast someone. I would be offended if someone used it on me but in a lighthearted way. It’s a phrase that’s been around for a long time.

Analysis: This insult is an example of humorous folk speech that serves to embarrass someone else while being able to hide behind the notion of humor. Using folklore speech in this situation might be a way of relying on a sort of “vernacular authority” instead of directly insulting someone which could disclaim individual blame. Because humor is very specific to culture, this insult being common in Chinese culture might suggest that they have a more blunt and harsh culture in comparison to American culture where this insult might be taken more seriously.