Author Archives: Matthieu Munoz

A man talks to God-Joke

This joke was shared to me by the informant during the course of a conversation. She told me the also that she had heard this joke from one of her friends as well.


“So a Man talks to God, and asks him a question.

Guy: ‘So an Eternity to you passes like a second.”

God: “Yes.”

Guy: So a million dollars would just be a penny to you.”

God: “Yes”

Guy: “Could you give me a million dollars?”

God: “Sure, just give me a second.”

My analysis.:

This joke pokes fun at the things people typically ask God for, through prayer or other means. In this joke, a man’s attempt to trick God into granting his wish backfires as he is asked to wait an interminably long period of time. The joke also sounds as if it were a  conversation, so the pun is not immediately obvious to the listener. The joke is intended to lead the listener in the same manner that the man is intending to lead God in conversation. It may take a second or two for the listener to get the joke, as there are some different ways the last line can be interpreted as well.

Children getting lost in the mountains

My informant for this piece is my grandmother, who used to tell me this tale as a child. Recently I approached her again, and asked her to repeat the tale, upon which she was able to recall it from memory.

The narrative is as follows:

“Little Tony was a very disobedient little boy, he never obeyed his mother. One day she said not to open the door or go wandering outside without telling her. One day, he decided to disobey his mother and open the door and go wandering about on his own. However, he wandered too far, and got lost in the mountains, and was unable to find his way back home. His mother called out for him ‘Tony’, ‘Tony’, but he never came back. He is still lost in the mountains somewhere.”

My Analysis:

The story is obviously intended to scare children into behaving. It is also intended to ensure that they will not go off on their own, or question their parents. In addition, this tale was told to me at a very young age, so I assume it is also intended to foster reliance on parents at an age in which it is difficult to do things for yourself. I have researched some aspects of this tale, and uncovered several news stories involving children who were similarly lost in the mountains. A tale like this may have been adapted from a real story, with substantial changes to the narrative in order to become more effective. The idea in the tale is that it could possibly happen in real life, giving it a more realistic tone.

Coqui- Mexican myth

My informant has been somewhat influenced by her hispanic culture, often having heard stories when she was a child of a creature that has its roots in Mexican culture. However, in this tale, it clearly is an adaptation or variation of an existing folklore.


“My parents told me about this monster, El Coqui when I was a child. It’s like a monster that hides in my backyard ( i think it’s folk monster from Mexican mythology that my parents re-created to keep me from going out at night as a child) The monster was named Coqui, like the little frog.They would just say it would sneak around the dark, and steal children…what it would do was never said…”

My analysis

This tale is clearly meant to be utilized by parents as a means in which to instill obedience in children. By implying that the monster is always nearby,it causes a sense of foreboding dread in the child, that there is some presence nearby that is just waiting for them to make a careless move. The name of the creature being familiar may add more legitimacy to the tale, as the child will associate it even subconsciously with a real animal. The vagueness of the motives for the monster also add to the effectiveness of this story by creating an uncertainty about the monster that makes it more frightening. I believe the variant of this tale makes it unique,  in adding familiarity to a familiar legend.

Rene Descartes walks into a diner- Joke

This joke was shared to me by the informant during the course of a conversation. She told me the also that she had heard this joke from one of her friends as well.


“So Rene Descartes walks into a restaurant and sits down at a table. The waiter comes up to him and gives him the specials for the day. The waiter says to him “We have a great linguine with cream sauce, tomatoes, and clams. Would you like to order it?’ Rene Descartes rubs his chin and says ‘I think Not’ and then promptly disappears.

My analysis:

This joke seems to me to be an ‘inside joke’, that is, one only really gets the joke if they have already know who Rene Descartes is. However, the joke relies  on Descartes famous phrase ‘I think therefore I am’, implying that his indecisiveness has now led to the termination of his existence. A joke such as this would most likely shared by someone who has friends who study philosophy or were familiar with it. However, it may still have an effect on someone casually familiar with Descartes.


My informant for this piece is a student who has strong connections to her Filipino heritage. She shared with me a legend common in the Philippines that she heard from her Uncle.


“My uncle told me about this legend that we have in the Philippines, since he lives there. There is this creature, the Manananggal, that we tell stories about. The creature looks like a woman by day. However at night her upper half flies off and separates from her body. She goes to pregnant woman’s homes while they sleep, and cuts them open to eat their children. She can be warded off with salt, though.”

My analysis:

This narrative can be best defined as a legend, in my own opinion. As the creature may be disguised as a human, it creates a level of uncertainty in someone who hears the story, that the creature may actually be lurking among us. The mention of a change between day and night forms may also indicate an uncertainty about how people really are between the face they show publicly and privately in my opinion. Salt also has many religious connotations, so the usage of salt to ward this creature away may indicate that it is in actuality an evil entity.

My research has uncovered that this story has its origins in the Philippines, and is a variant of a Vampire legend, or ‘Aswang’ as they are called in Filipino legend.. However it is more widespread in Malaysia then Europe. It is implied that belief in this creature may have influenced behavior in the region, as my research indicated that sleeping patterns changed so that the sleeper would not be vulnerable to these creatures. It is also implied that Philippine houses are constructed in a way to ward of the creature with features including steep roofs, and bamboo staves (which are purported to kill them). Rural Filipinos traditionally hang the corpses of sea creatures such as crabs or lobsters which are purported to ward them away. These behavioral alterations to their daily life may be an indication of the widespread belief in this creature.


Ramos, Maximo. “The Aswang syncrasy in Philippine folklore.” Western Folklore (1969): 238-248.