Insult

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Jewish
Age: 85
Occupation: Retired
Residence: Laguna, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: March 23, 2008
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Insult-WWII Military

Insult: “You’re lower than whale shit, and whale shit is the lowest thing in the world because it lies at the bottom of the ocean.”

Performer’s Analysis: When the southern boys came into the Army in World War II they brought a lot of new expressions with them, colorful phrases and images that those of us who came from other parts of the country had never heard before. In a way they were poets, and they enriched our language. For example, when they wanted to put somebody down, they would say, “You’re lower than whale shit, and whale shit is the lowest thing in the world because it lies at the bottom of the ocean.”  How’s that for a putdown?

Collector’s Analysis: Albert Schutzer is from the Northeast, so when he was sent to train in Oklahoma all of his fellow comrades were Southern. While he thought this joke was unique to the South, it clearly could have come from any region.

As far as its variation or multiplicity, Mr. Schutzer feels it was a joke concentrated in the south. Because of its relative its hard to adapt the joke but other forms of this joke are possible. It would be easy to replace the whale with any other organism and attach a negative connotation to it. Often times we see that insults involve comparing a person to animals, possibly because as humans we view ourselves as “above animals” when in reality we are not.

Its important to note that jokes come and go with the times. Most jokes a based on blazon populaire most of the time, so when the culture changes the joke evolves as well. While I personally have never heard the “Whale shit” joke, I know of plenty insults involving feces or “shit” like “shithead” or “shitfaced”