Iced Tea

Form of Folklore:  Humor

Informant Bio:  The informant was born and raised in Glendale, California.  Most of the folklore he has been exposed to comes primarily from his father, who is of Arabic decent.  Other folklore has been attained either through media sources (i.e. Reddit) or through personal life experiences in America.

Context:  The interview was conducted in the living room of another informant’s house in the presence of two other informants.

Item:    A man walks into a cafe and asks the person working there if he has iced tea.  The person says, “No we don’t” and the guys says “Ok” and leaves.  The next day, he comes back and asks the same thing:  “Do you have any iced tea?”  The person says, “No, I’m sorry, we don’t”; the guy leaves.  Comes back the third day, comes back the fourth day, fifth day, sixth day, does it over and over… until the seventh day, the cafe worker finally decides:  I should get some iced tea for him, so he makes some iced tea.  And when the guy shows up and says, “Do you have any iced tea?”  He says, “Yes I do!”  He says, “Ok, warm some up for me.”

Informant Comments:  After telling this joke, the informant immediately tried to redeem this joke by saying that it is funnier in Arabic.  He thinks it is a light joke that is based on the few times when customers are being difficult, but no one event in particular.  Even though most people do not laugh at the joke, the informer thinks it is fun to tell, simply to see people’s reactions.

Analysis:  Irony and repetition play a big part in this joke.  The customer repeatedly appears every day of an entire week until the cafe worker finally decides (on the seventh day) to get the customer what he believes is what the customer wants.  Once the seventh day comes, the customer asks for iced tea again and is told there is iced tea, but to the worker’s disappointment the customer asks him to heat it; thus, making hot tea, which was always available.  This irony is the actual punch line and is the reason why the worker would get frustrated with the difficult customer and would even roll their eyes at him.  It is clear that people identify with the worker more than the customer because the reactions of the people being told the joke is similar to the worker’s reaction to the customer’s request to heat up the iced tea.