Leaving the Stove On and the Faucet Running – Chinese Joke

Context: This joke was told by one of my coworkers at a boba place. We had closed early that day and the manager had brought us pizza, so we ate and took turns telling jokes. I chimed in and asked if I could use some of them for my folklore project, to which my coworker (KC) agreed. This is the last joke that she told us.


“An old married couple went out for dinner one night. The wife suddenly shouted ‘Oh crap, I forgot to turn off the stove, there could be a fire’. She urged her husband to hurry home with her. The husband thought about it for a while, then comforted her saying ‘don’t worry, I also forgot to turn off the faucet.’”

Background: My coworker got this joke from her dad, who heard it from his dad. She thought the joke was funny because it played off of stereotypes of old couples in China and how they are always forgetful. The punchline is that while the wife forgot to turn off the stove, the house wouldn’t burn down because the husband also forgot to turn off the faucet and left the water running.

Thoughts: This joke actually made me laugh out loud, and the punchline is pretty unique. One thing that I’ve learned from hearing a lot of Chinese jokes through my parents, friends, and different television channels is that there are a lot of jokes about old married couples where the wife is often annoyed at the husband and the husband often has to comfort the wife. The funny part of most of these jokes is that at least one of the two is forgetful of something. I’ve often seen my parents and friend’s parents point to each other and say “that’s you” jokingly when they hear an old married couple joke, which I think sheds insight into how the joke contributes to Chinese culture in the sense that these stereotypes have at least some sort of universal truth to them.