Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: March 29, 2008
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Cantonese, Mandarin
Im going to say a word and I want you to spell them out loud and add ness at the end.
Pierre is a spring admit to the University of Southern California and is a part of the a capella group on campus called the Trojan Men, which is a group that sings with only vocals and no music. He first heard this joke at a Trojan Men party a few days before the item was collected here. One of his fellow members of the group told this joke to a small group of them, and Pierre thought it was really funny. So he has told many of his friends this joke afterwards. He often does not remember the exact words before imap and changes them with each retelling, but according to him those words do not matter. The most important one, the one that must be correct is the last one. This is where the punch line of the joke lies. When spelled aloud, i-m-a-p-ness actually makes the speller say, I am a penis.
The Trojan Men consists of all males and, therefore, it is logical that this joke was told to this particular audience. When Pierre retold it for this collection, he was retelling it in a dorm room full of all males as well. Although there were also a couple of girls listening during the party and also to whom Pierre has told this joke, the audience is usually male. It may be more natural for males to tell this joke to other males because it involves the male physiology. Like many jokes, this one brings light-heartedness to issues of sexuality and gender that are not usually discussed in social situations.
Also, the Trojan Men member that told this joke at the party explained to his audience that he had actually heard it from a twelve-year-old boy. He was a camp counselor and grew close to the children attending the camp, one of whom was this twelve-year-old. So one day at camp, the boy simply told him the joke. The Trojan Men member and his audience then had a discussion about how they just get younger and younger, referring to how it seems like young children now have knowledge about more adult themes and issues. They also mentioned how it seems like young children know more and more about these issues. There was a general agreement that when they were younger, had not spoken about penises until they were around the age of fourteen or fifteen. This ties into the idea that society views children as innocent and pure and finds it shocking when they are not, as Marina Warner discusses in her book Six Myths of Our Time. Children often tell jokes dealing with the human body, sexuality, and other topics that are deemed adult topics because jokes appear to be the only venue that they can rely on to discuss these issues.
Warner, Marina. Six Myths of Our Time: Little Angels, Little Monsters, Beautiful Beasts, and More. Pg. 43-62. New York: Vintage Books, 1994.