Limerick: “Monkey and a Baboon Sitting in the Grass”

Main Piece: 

“Uh… Here’s one. Monkey and a baboon sitting in the grass. Monkey stuck his finger up the baboon’s ass. The baboon said ‘Monkey, damn your soul! Get your finger out of my asshole!’”


My informant learned this from his step-grandfather when they were bonding as part of the joining of two families. My informant presented it as a situation where the performer of this limerick recites it to a single person in a setting where it would normally be inappropriate- for example, over the dinner table. This would provoke groans or laughs from other listeners. The reciter apparently could be called on again to tell new people the same limerick. 

When asked the meaning of this limerick, my informant responded:

“There is absolutely no meaning to this. And I would say this if it occurred to me and I was hanging around my friends and thought ‘Hey, y’all want to hear something funny?’”

Thoughts:While my informant took a nihilistic view of this limerick, this seemed mostly based on the lyrics. While the lyrics seems predominantly intended to shock and amuse, the context and audience response to this limerick points towards another purpose. The first thing that stuck out to me was that this limerick was part of an early bonding between two separate family units. This means it may serve as a benevolent version of wedding or funeral pranks. This could serve to break the tension of liminality as two families undergo a transition. I doubt that this is always the purpose of the limerick, but the interesting bisecting of the audience does make me think this is something of a welcome. According to my informant, one person- a new person -is receiving the recitation while others moan and grandpa doing his normal thing. This singles a person out as someone who now knows the limerick and welcomes them into the same group as the rest of the audience. In the situations that my informant put forward, this seems like a piece of humor that functions as a bridge over liminality. Further evidence of this interpretation is the tendency to call on the reciter to serve their role again when another new person is present.