Persian Taarof Joke

Alright so, um, this lady is pregnant. And you know, she is obviously gonna be due in 9 months. But you know when the 9 months pass, no baby arrives. They wait one month, nothing happens. 2 months, nothing happens. SIX months, no baby. Seven years, at some point there- we have to see what’s inside. So they go in the surgery and they open her up and they see two old men being like “No you go first”, “No you go first!”, “No you go first!”, “No you-” (laughter). 


The speaker, who is of Persian descent, is in a room with their family-friends, many of whom are also Persian. This joke is in reference to a typical Persian practice of taarof, which is essentially the back-and-forth between two individuals out of politeness for the other person. 

Personal Thoughts:

The joke landed very well in the room, which can be deduced from the fact that it was very culturally relevant to the folk community in the room. This joke has a very specific punchline that, while funny on its own, has an added layer for those that understand the concept of taarof. The joke is able to reflect how important taarof is in Persian society and how it is so common that a joke like this can be easily understood by a Persian audience. The punchline shows how the two babies are practicing taarof from the start, to the point where they cannot even get out of the womb. One can gather from this that taarof is also something that is understood from a young age, as this specific joke is making fun of the fact that it is so ingrained in the culture, to the point where it starts off when people are children. What is really interesting about this joke is how it can reveal so much, just by the punchline. There is a clear understanding that politeness is highly regarded in Persian society, where it is commonly practiced. Thus, if someone where to hear this joke from an outside perspective, even if they do not practice taarof or know the term, they can understand that there is cultural significance to being polite.