Ole and Lena Joke

Transcribed Text from Informant

“Okay…so…Ole gets home from work, and he and Lena are going to go out on a date. But when he gets to the bedroom…Lena’s completely naked (laughs). So Ole says ‘what are you doing naked’? And Lena tells him that she has nothing to wear…so…Ole goes to their closet and starts shifting through her clothes going ‘what do you mean you have nothing to wear’? (coughs) You have a white dress here, a black dress here, an orange dress here, Sven is here, and a…red dress here.”


Ole and Lena jokes represent a canon of humor found in the Upper Midwest region of the United States (Including North Dakota, the birthplace of my informant). All of these jokes generally center around a married couple – Ole and Lena – and can vary dramatically in length. While not true of every single “Ole and Lena” joke, many of these jokes feature sexual innuendos or blue humour. Sven is also a friend of Ole and Lena that appears every once in a while in the canon of jokes, and is seen in the particular joke told about.

My informant heard many of these Ole and Lena jokes growing up, both on the playground from other kids, and from her parents and parents’ friends joking around with each other at night. My informant chuckles as a response to slight uncomfortableness when I ask her how she interprets it. She goes on to say “Well…it’s…obviously a joke on Lena being unfaithful, and Ole finding Sven in the closet.” She presses that infidelity is not endemic to German-Russians, and that it’s just light-hearted blue humour.

My Analysis

Like many Ole and Lena jokes, this particular joke features sexual innuendos that are common in the Ole and Lena jokes told by German-Russians in North Dakota. It’s a humorous joke that I believe still holds up, hence why the joke’s stayed in German-Russian folklore.