“Chigger” Joke

The Joke as performed by Lauren: “So there’s these two workers out in the field out in the Midwest, working in the woods or whatever.  One is like ‘Oh, fuck!  I’m getting bit up by a bunch of chiggers.’  And the other worker goes, ‘Whoa. Whoa.  They prefer chegroes.’”

Lauren told me that she learned this joke from one of her friends at high school in Santa Barbra, CA.  She said that the joke immediately became her favorite, and that she tells it whenever she’s in a group of friends that are sharing jokes.  She says it always makes her laugh because of its unusual quality and surprise ending.

Lauren said that she thinks the joke is obviously a play on words, with “chegroes” meant to sound like “Negroes.”  She thinks that the joke is a way of exposing the ridiculousness surrounding politically correct words, as the well-known “n-word” that rhymes with “chigger” is usually considered extremely racist and offensive, especially in the United States (where the joke takes place).

I agree that this joke is a way of poking fun at the sensitivity and political correctness surrounding words.  “Chigger” obviously sounds like “nigger,” the term most offensive to African-Americans, but the word “chigger” itself is not offensive (it’s a common word for a specific bug).  Still, the joke points out that words are simply words, and it’s context that makes them either offensive or inoffensive.

The joke also represents the common fear of using the “n-word” that exists amongst non-African-Americans.  Because the word is offensive to the particular race, many people outside that race (and within) consciously avoid using it in everyday speech because they don’t want to seem racist.  Hence, the worker that says “Whoa whoa whoa, they prefer chegroes” demonstrates a consciousness carefulness with offensive speech and words.

Lauren told me this joke in a room with one white male, one white female, and one black female.  Every one in the room laughed out loud when she was finished, demonstrating that the joke doesn’t cater to a specific race, but rather exposes the extreme degree to which some people take political correctness.