Blind Dwarf Riddle

Main Piece

JD told us he had heard this riddle in elementary school, around 4th grade:

“You walk into a room and you find a dead man. And all that’s in the room is a noose, because he hung himself, and a cane, and sawdust. What happened?”

The other participants and I took a few shots in the dark, and JD said: “It’s so dumb there’s no way you’d ever get it.” When I suggested that I might have heard it before, he said “there’s no way you’ve heard this before.”

Eventually, JD revealed the answer:

“Obviously, the man is a blind dwarf clown — he works at the circus, so his entire source of income is being a freak at the circus. He’s in the circus tent, but there are termites and they eat the bottom of his cane. Since he’s blind he thinks he’s growing, so he’s losing his source of income, and so he kills himself.”

Informant background

JD is a student at the University of Southern California. He is from Las Vegas, NV.

Performance context

This story was told during a folklore collection event that I set up with a diversity of members from the USC men’s Ultimate Frisbee team. We were in a classic folklore collection setting: sharing drinks around a campfire, in a free flowing conversation.


This riddle seems to be of the kind where it is amusing to hear the answer because of its silliness, rather than one that a guesser might realistically have a shot at. The fact that JD clued us in by saying “it’s so dumb” we’d never get it allowed us to not be as disappointed or frustrated in how silly the answer was when it came.