“What did the Mexican gardener say when he sat on the grass?”  –Gracias

Justin came up with this joke during high school when he was with his friends.  He says that this joke is not meant to be racist, but is more a play on the words in Spanish and English.  He later explains this joke into more detail, saying that the Mexican gardener got grass on his behind when he sat on it.  He meant to say “grassy-ass” in English instead of saying “gracias” in Spanish.

This simple joke is humorous because of the double meaning of sounds in two different languages.  This use of puns is an example of an appropriate incongruity, which is an equivocation of two meanings under one sound.  We have this within the English language, but using puns across languages makes it even funnier.  The punch line is the answer to the joke: gracias, which means “thank you.”  It is possible that the gardener is thanking someone to let him sit on the grass, but the joke was made so quickly that this connection was probably not made at the time.

Even though this is a very simple joke, it also says a lot about the stereotypes that Southern Californians have of Mexicans. The humor of the joke actually comes from the illegitimate connection between “grassy-ass” and “gracias,” yet it is possible that one can take this joke in an offensive way.  Because Mexicans are very large part of the population, they are commonly employed as gardeners or maids.  Thus, the use of a Mexican as a gardener in this joke is expected and partly related to a racist idea.  The jokes that people have about Mexicans are due to the fact that they are just across the border of California and Mexico.  It is easy to make fun of the differences of language, especially because there are so many Mexicans in the area that the two languages are often used together.