My Informant, a student filmmaker and a very funny person, was very eager to share his favorite jokes from his childhood. When asked about other folklore, he couldn’t remember games, riddles, or sayings, but jokes immediately popped into his head. I thought that this was an interesting character trait, what folklore stays with people. These jokes were important to my Informant because of where he heard them and who he then shared them with: he learned the jokes from his cousins, and then shared them with his friends at school and at camp. Jokes clearly were important to his memory because of how well they were received. He reflected that some of them may have been inappropriate, but due to his locations (the American Southwest and Northwest) it made sense that such jokes talking about neighboring states and countries would have been told.
Author: Do you remember um… Any jokes that you would tell, or rhymes that happened at A Camp?
Informant: Can I uhh…
Author: You can ask, yeah.
Informant: Can I ask…Well, I was just gonna say, uh, What like… Does it matter what age? Do you want real childhood or?
Author: No, it doesn’t matter at all!
Informant: Okay, So there’s a joke that I can tell, it’s not adulthood, I was definitely a kid, like my last years at A-Camp, but I’m pretty sure this is a joke I would have told at A-Camp.
Informant: It is the Canadian Toilet Joke. And I haven’t told it in a long time, so I might get it wrong.
Author: [Laughs] Okay.
Informant: And it’s probably racist, if I think back on it, but we will see.
Author: Okay. [Laughs]
Informant: I’m gonna try to do all the racist accents that came with it, if I remember properly.
Author: [Laughs and makes a face] Okay, perfect.
Informant: I don’t remember what the first character was.
Author: Oh no.
Informant: There were three characters.
Informant: I think there was [counting on three fingers the Italian way, pink first] an American, a Mexican, and a Canadian.
Informant: [Pause, then whispers.] I can’t believe I can’t remember the Canadian Toilet Joke. [Laughs]
Author: Do you remember any other jokes? [Laughs]
Informant: No, no this is important. This is important. I need to try.
Author: Okay, why was it important, can I ask?
Informant: Just it was my favorite joke for like five years of my life. I think one of my cousins told me, but I might have told it to my cousin. I remember being at Montana, in my Grandmother’s kitchen, either telling this joke to them, or hearing it for the first time, I don’t remember.
Author: That’s awesome!
Informant: But I remember that. And I remember that I told all my friends, this was like, my performance. I’m sure I’ve probably told you at some point just to just to be like “This is a joke I used to tell all the time”
Author: I’m sure, yeah.
Informant: But. [Pause] I can’t remember how it goes. Something like. There was an American, a Mexican, and a Canadian and.. [Pause. Gestures] There was a toilet store.
Informant: And so… One day the American walks in to the Toilet Store and says. [Making Surfer Face by squinting eyes and leaning back] Yo, Dude… Like. I need a toilet. [Pauses. Stares. Mumbles to self about what comes next.]
Informant: And the guy’s like: Okay, have this… [Pause] Stone toilet. A toilet made of rock. Made of stone. And he says, Cool, it’s kinda heavy, let me get some help out. And then goes, goes with the toilet. And then a few hours later, the Mexican comes in and I don’t remember what toilet he purchases.
Informant: Something like…. Have this… [Gestures] I don’t remember. I think it was like. Something that poked his butt. We’ll get to the punch line
Author: Okay Okay
Informant: I don’t remember what it was, something pokey I feel, so then he goes, there was the accent [waving away] like [Leans forward and does racist Mexican accent, which is scratchy and high] Ey, Mang, I need a toilet. [Back to Normal] Is How I would Say it and Um
Author: [Laughter] Okay.
Informant: He takes it and goes. And then the Canadian comes in and says [Canadian stereotype, North Dakotan kind of accent, friendly smile] Eh.
Author: [Bigs Laughs]
Informant: I need a toilet, Eh.
Informant: And he says, Sure, take this singing one, it’s on special today, actually. It’s a little expensive, but it sings to you, so it’s important. And. so he says: Wow, thank, Eh. And he takes the toilet and he goes home. Ummmm. About a week later [louder and with more energy] The American comes back in and he says: Dude, I need a new toilet. NO! I’m sorry, that’s wrong. He says: “Hey, can I use your bathroom?” And he says: Hey, you look familiar, didn’t I sell you a toilet like… [Checks nonexistent watch on wrist] A week ago? And he says [Breathy Surfer Voice] Yeah, but I live up in Washington and it gets really cold [fixes accent to match this information] up there so every time I sit down to poop, my butt gets stuck to the toilet! And he says, Wow, okay, go use the bathroom! And… The Mexican comes in and he says, [squinted eyes and stereotypical accent again] Ey, can I use your bathrrroom. And he says, Hey, you also bought a toilet from me recently, what happened? And again, I don’t know what the toilet was so [waves hand] but something like it poked him, or like he had thorns in his butthole… It was all gruesome.
Author: [Big laughs]
Informant: Something like that. Anyway, He goes to use the toilet and he leaves, and an hour or two later, The Canadian comes in and he says: Hey, may I please use your restroom, eh? And um. Uh. The guy says, okay, this is weird. I just sold you a toilet, I remember. The singing one right! Yeah, but every time I go to take a shit it started to sing “O, Canada” and I had to stand back up again!
Author: [Big Laughs and Sad Aws] That’s a good joke!
Informant: I didn’t say shit. As I was a child. I would have said crap. I would have said sat down to take a crap.
Author: As a child you would have said crap?