Folk Speech/Humor – Irvine, California

“When Chuck Norris jumps into a pool he doesn’t get wet, the pool gets Chuck Norris.”

“Chuck Norris can count to infinity…twice.”

“Chuck Norris can win Connect Four in three moves.”

In my close group of friends, when I heard my male friends all joking about the same YouTube videos and inside jokes, I decided to ask Aaron about some of them.  Since none of the girls understood what the guys were talking about, I wanted to at least clear up some confusion.  Aaron told me that when they joked about Chuck Norris and his special abilities, it was because they all recognized him, had seen videos of him and all held the same opinions about him—that he was a hotshot who could beat up anyone who crossed his path with his expert martial arts skills while at the same time still wearing cowboy boots and being known as “Walker Texas Ranger” from the popular television show.  Because my male friends are so tight-knit, they constantly share the same folklore like jokes, videos, games, and bits of trivia that they pick up with each other.  In this sense, the shared sense of humor and folk speech provide them with a strong feeling of community and identity; they are the only ones who recognize the significance of that certain joke or piece of folk speech.  They create a separate group for themselves this way, leaving the females out of the loop.  So in this way, they are also creating an identity for themselves through the separation of the sexes.  Aaron said that if he explained their folklore to a stranger, especially a girl, that person might be able to understand it and enjoy it but would never fully grasp its significance or fully appreciate it exactly as they do in their small group of guys.  However, I partially disagree with this because it seems to be more a matter of time and experience than intuition and closeness.  Just by spending some time catching up on videos seen, items heard, and by acquiring first-hand explanations of those jokes, one could start to become acquainted with the group and share in the same identity with not much difficulty.  So in a way, it is possible to join in, or even “infiltrate” as Aaron calls it, any particular group and share in a certain identity simply by becoming accustomed and familiar with that group and its members’ beliefs, values, and traditions.  Everyone searches for both an individual and group sense of identity, and attaining that feeling of community and togetherness is very much possible.