Dumb Joke Turned Rivalry

J is a freshman studying Journalism at University of Southern California but grew up in Maryland.

J: “‘I could prove you’re dumb.’
And I was like ‘How?’
And he was like ‘Do you wanna play a game?’
And I’m like ‘Sure.’
And he says ‘Sure. Just remember everything I said. So what’s the color of the sky?’
I was like ‘blue.’
‘What’s the color of the grass?’
‘What’s one plus one?’
‘What’s the first question I asked?’
And I would say ‘What’s the color of the sky?’ ’cause I thought that was the first question he asked. But, he was like ‘No.’ It’s ‘Did you wanna play a game?'”

“So I play this with my cousin during childhood. He’s like a boy, so we always had this gendered rivalry almost…and so, that was his way to prove that I was dumber than him because I fell for his trick. But basically, it just became a lighthearted thing where even after I knew the joke, we would still repeat it to each other just for fun. And I started doing this to a bunch of people, like my friends, and I would feel this satisfaction when they also fell for it ’cause it’s just like a little joke and it’s so easy to fool people with it.”

This joke is a practical joke, where it is played on the unassuming and clueless audience. It also serves as an initiation into the know, wherein after the audience hears it once, they can then play it on other people and the cycle repeats itself, inadvertently spreading the joke as folklore. This joke is lighthearted and there is no inherent deeper meaning behind the so-called “testing of intelligence” rather than just finding humor in a harmless mistake. However, in certain situations, this joke can easily become volatile. It uses logic and the lack of attention span as reasoning for intelligence, making the listener easily frustrated. As J talks about this in context, she says how this joke helped spur on a gender battle between her and her cousin. Practical jokes create temporary rivalries or tensions between groups. These tensions are relieved in the punchline, but require that initial stupidity to let the humor hit, which can easily offend. What’s important about these jokes is the atmosphere and context in which they are told to avoid anger or offense.