How Cold?

Informant was a 19 year old male student who I chatted with during our Russian Modern Art class. He’s a Film and Television Production Major.


“There’s a Native American tribe and they just got a new chief. They ask the chief how much wood they should cut for the winter, but the new chief does not know how to contact the spirits and ask them how cold the winter will be. So he just tells his tribe to start cutting wood. Then he goes to the weather station and asks the man there whether it’s going to be a cold winter. “Oh yes,” the man says. Relieved, the chief goes back to the tribe and tells them to start cutting more wood. Then he goes back to the weather station and asks the weatherman again how cold the winter is going to be. “Very cold,” the weatherman assures him, so the chief goes back to the tribe and tells them to cut as much wood as they can carry. One final time, the chief decides to go back to the weather station, just to make sure. “Oh, it’s going to be the coldest winter in years! It’s going to be freezing!” the weatherman says. “But how do you know?” the chief prods. “Well,” the weatherman says, “The Indians are all cutting wood like crazy!'”

Collector: Where did you hear this joke?

Informant: This story was told to me by my girlfriend during lunch one day. We were telling jokes to one another, and she told me this one.

Collector: Why do you remember this joke in particular?

Informant: It’s funny how rigid systems of thought can become. In both cases, the weatherman’s case and the Indians’ case, they end up judging their general situation not on their own gut instinct or insight, but from what a pre-established system tells them they should think. The joke highlights the irony codependent systems of rigid thought, of which there are many in this world, can become.

I really couldn’t have explained this joke better myself, and it’s pretty much what I was thinking. It’s a joke based on stereotypes and the humor is found based on the performance of said stereotypes.