Brown and Sticky Anti-Joke


The informant was very nonchalant about telling this joke. It was the kind of “let’s get this over with” demeanor that someone has when they expect you to already know the joke they’re about it tell. Regardless of that mutual understanding, they had a grin on their face that made it evident it was a joke they liked to tell.

“Okay. What’s brown and sticky?”

I responded, “Ohh, yeah. I’ve heard this one before.”

“Sticks,” we said together. And despite both knowing the punchline to the joke, we both shared a brief laugh as it was still an effective joke.


The informant considers to be their “first joke ever,” and it was the first subversive joke that they had ever heard. Because of this, it’s the first joke that comes to mind when they think about telling a joke. Even then, they don’t consider it to be a “funny joke.”

The informant attributed this joke to playground humor around when they were in the “second grade.”

Typically used as their go-to joke to tell, the informant tells this joke as something easy and clever– if the audience hasn’t heard it before. They described the joke being especially effective for kids, but much less effective for adults who can automatically infer the correct response.


This joke is both simple and subversive. It baits the audience into expecting the question of “What’s brown and sticky” to result in something more akin to a riddle where the answer would simply be an object that is both visually brown and texturally sticky. Part of what makes this subversion particularly effective for children is the inherent potty/gross-out humor that arises from asking someone for something brown and sticky. When the punchline (and more joke-y aspect) is revealed to be “sticks,” it additionally serves as a moment to embarrass the audience for their “gross” thoughts.