Transcribed Text from Informant:
“One day, he…Ole that is…went to his doctor to complain about his sex life with Lena. So the doctor’s like ‘Okay, well…try walking ten miles a day and see what happens…’ Oh, and then he says call me after a week. So a week later Ole calls his doctor and the doctor’s like, ‘well? How’s your sex life going’ And Ole goes, ‘what sex life?’ I’m 70 miles away from home.”
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.
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. When I ask my informant for her analysis of this piece of folk humour she laughs and goes “it’s self-explanatory, no? Instead of walking 10 miles every day and returning home, he leaves home entirely and keeps on walking. A lot of Ole and Lena jokes feature…like…a misinterpretation I guess you could say of something someone said.”
From the Ole and Lena jokes I’ve heard in my life, this seems to follow a formula similar to one followed by many Ole and Lena jokes. Someone says one thing and usually Ole – though sometimes Lena too – misinterprets the saying or takes the phrase too literal. I fear that analyzing a joke too much strips the joke of its innate humour and staying-power that makes it apart of German-Russian North Dakotan folklore, but I found this particular Ole and Lena joke to be funny indeed.
I was able to find this particular joke in a folklorist archive, cited here:
“Ole and Lena Joke Book – the Gold Scales.” Nvg.org, 2019, oaks.nvg.org/ole-lena.html.