This, uh, lady was asking her-her husband that, uh, “which one do you like more, do you love more? A pretty woman or an educated woman?” And he says …“none of them, I love you”. (laughter)
The speaker was sharing a joke to their family after everyone was each sharing a joke they thought was funny. As the speaker spoke, they paused at the end, making sure there was an emphasis on the punchline.
This is a very interesting joke to dissect, as it not only is structured in a way to have a humorous punchline, but it also can be used to understand gender roles. The structure itself leads up to the punchline in a way that subverts audience expectations. Rather than the husband picking between the two, he essentially chooses neither, which leads him to imply that his wife is neither pretty nor educated. What this does, is also reveal how gender norms are regarded with this joke. In this case, the wife asking if her husband prefers beauty or education shows that there is a pressure for women to be one or the other, and that men may have a preference. By the husband responding that his wife is neither, it is essentially making a point that the wife did not achieve either goal that society places on her, meaning that she would not be seen as the “ideal” wife in Western culture. That being said, an optimistic view of this joke could interpret that the husband does not care for either and his wife is someone special to him. However, by looking at the sexist gender roles placed in this joke, it is making a point about what Western society views as important for women to have, and to not have that makes them a “joke”, as shown by this specific joke.
A guy has a donkey and he uses, like, a car and he goes to the market a-and he puts rice, and you know and everything from the market on the donkey’s back. But as their walking the donkey’s just like super tired, so then he feels bad for the donkey, so he’s like “oh I’ll alleviate the weight for him” so he picks the donkey up and carries him up. (Quiet laughter)
For this performance, the speaker announced that they had a joke to share, although they jokingly insisted that it was “not a very good joke”. Nonetheless, there was quiet laughter after the joke was said.
This is a joke with a unique structure, having a bit more length to it than other Western jokes. The punchline is also not as direct, focusing more on having the audience think about the punchline than it be directly said. The joke’s punchline focuses on the man taking a completely different route to get to the same conclusion, which is in this case, alleviating pain from the donkey. That being said, this is where the core of the humor of this joke is, as the humor is not in visualizing a man picking up a donkey, but the fact that the man thinks to carry the donkey rather than remove items. It is interesting to see how this joke translates in a room with many non-American audience members, as this joke heavily relies on understanding the irony in the language, which might explain the quiet laughter rather than a laugh-out-loud moment that would indicate that the joke is understood.
Alright so, um, this lady is pregnant. And you know, she is obviously gonna be due in 9 months. But you know when the 9 months pass, no baby arrives. They wait one month, nothing happens. 2 months, nothing happens. SIX months, no baby. Seven years, at some point there- we have to see what’s inside. So they go in the surgery and they open her up and they see two old men being like “No you go first”, “No you go first!”, “No you go first!”, “No you-” (laughter).
The speaker, who is of Persian descent, is in a room with their family-friends, many of whom are also Persian. This joke is in reference to a typical Persian practice of taarof, which is essentially the back-and-forth between two individuals out of politeness for the other person.
The joke landed very well in the room, which can be deduced from the fact that it was very culturally relevant to the folk community in the room. This joke has a very specific punchline that, while funny on its own, has an added layer for those that understand the concept of taarof. The joke is able to reflect how important taarof is in Persian society and how it is so common that a joke like this can be easily understood by a Persian audience. The punchline shows how the two babies are practicing taarof from the start, to the point where they cannot even get out of the womb. One can gather from this that taarof is also something that is understood from a young age, as this specific joke is making fun of the fact that it is so ingrained in the culture, to the point where it starts off when people are children. What is really interesting about this joke is how it can reveal so much, just by the punchline. There is a clear understanding that politeness is highly regarded in Persian society, where it is commonly practiced. Thus, if someone where to hear this joke from an outside perspective, even if they do not practice taarof or know the term, they can understand that there is cultural significance to being polite.
- Le monde appartient à ceux qui se lèvent tôt.
- The world belongs to people who wake up early.
This performance took place early in the morning and this was being shared to the speaker’s family. The speaker, who is French, brought this specific proverb up to make a point about how it can be a benefit to wake up early in the morning, even if it does not feel like it at the moment.
This is a really interesting proverb that can reveal what French folk communities may view as what is “best” and socially acceptable. From this specific proverb, one can gather that there is an importance to waking up early, and that by waking up early, there is more to do in the day, thus making the world belong to those who are up early. This could be viewed in context for many things. While France does not have as typically capitalist a society as other Western countries, such as the United States, there may be a prioritization for work, thus getting up in the morning to go to work is seen as a success. France also has a lot of Catholic history and a large population of Catholics, therefore waking up early may tie into attending church ceremonies, which could potentially turn into a folk tradition if this particular view of waking up early has transformed into a religious folk tradition for church goers. While not there is not one specific folk practice that this proverb alludes to, it is interesting to note the different possibilities of what it may relate to, and it should also be noted that the translation in English has a similar structure to it in French, allowing for the proverb to translate fairly smoothly from one language to another.
It’s about a bamboo cutter. He basically just cuts wood all day. Him and his wife and they don’t have any kids. One day he cuts open a bamboo… and inside there is a female baby. And it is glowing and majestic, so he takes it home and shows his wife. And he tells his wife “oh we gotta take care of it”. And he starts to cut down more bamboo and bits of gold come from it. The baby grows up to be a beautiful young woman and all of Japan finds out about her. A group of noblemen try to get her hand in marriage and she has an impossible task for them. Then the emperor hears about it and the woman just rejects him, without a task. He continues to ask her to marry him and she keeps rejecting him. One night it is a full moon and she is staring at the moon, crying at it, and she can’t tell her father and mother why. Then she tells her parents that she is actually from the moon and one day she will have to return soon. Word spreads and the emperor hears. One night, these … people from the moon just come down from the moon, sometimes they are on horses or clouds, and the emperor has his army to protect the woman but the people from the moon take her. Her father writes a letter to her and burns it at the highest mountain in hopes that she will read it. Some believe the mountain is actually Mount Fuji.
This performance was done when the speaker, a college student who grew up in Japan, was sharing Japanese fairy tales that they knew. When asked how the speaker knew of this, they explained that this tale is thousands of years old and is commonly known in Japan, as there have even been cartoons and adaptations of it. The speaker also makes a point that many Japanese stories are not about virtues or sins, but about contemplating random topics such as death or one’s role in society.
This fairytale is quite interesting as it uses a lot of moon imagery throughout the story. One can gather that this story focuses on love as well as the woman’s role in society, just as the speaker mentioned was a theme in some fairy tales. The speaker mentions during their rendition of the story that sometimes the people from the moon ride on horses or clouds, which demonstrates well how this story is passed down with different versions, and even telling it today there can be different versions that are mentioned at the same time. Upon hearing this story, it also sounded quite familiar, which is due to the fact that it was adapted into a Studio Ghibli film, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, giving a prime example of how folklore can enter authored literature and into mainstream media. Because Studio Ghibli is such a well-known film company, this allows for the fairytale to have a much more global audience. That being said, the tale also becomes authored literature rather than a folk tale that is passed down, ultimately changing it from versions that are performed, such as the one here.
For another version of this fairytale, refer to:
“Taketori Monogatari”. Ohio State University.