Ole and Lena Joke

Transcribed Text from Informant

So…Ole and Lena go to the ballet…and after a little bit Ole leans over to Lena and whispers ‘why are they dancing on their toes? Couldn’t they have just gotten taller dancers?’”


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. My informant says that she’s particularly fond of this joke, in large part due to how silly Ole’s observation is.

My Analysis

I agree with my informant that this joke is very funny. The sort of silly, “brain-dead” humor is emblematic of a lot of the German-Russian North Dakotan humor. While nothing in the joke itself references the specific cultural practices of German-Russians, the humor itself serves as a beacon of the folk humor popular within these North Dakotan communities.