Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?

A: (according to Hamlet) That is not the question.

Jane Lee first learned this riddle from a friend when she was in first grade.   When her friend asked her the question, she responded with the traditional “to get to the other side.”  Since then, she has heard many versions to the riddle, but her favorite answer to the question has been what she claims Hamlet’s answer would have been – “that is not the question.”  As riddles are often viewed to be sharp and witty, she likes the clever way in which Shakepeare’s Hamlet was incorporated into the joke.  She believes that it brings the academic world into the joke world and stirs humor in a subtle but funny way.

Of the different versions of the riddle, the traditional answer seems most fitting with the American culture.  By providing humor with an answer that is, by itself not funny, the joke becomes funny by the unexpectedness of the answer.  Many individuals expect riddles to be clever and tricky, but because the answer to this riddle is so plain and simple, the twist generates a sense of humor.  The simple nature of the riddle also makes it enjoyable to people.  As it is not a neck riddle, the individual does not feel pressured to answer but can do so at a leisurely pace.  Therefore, this is one of the most well known and enjoyed riddles in the United States.