Context: This joke was told by one of my coworkers at a boba place. We had closed early that day and the manager had brought us pizza, so we ate and took turns telling jokes. I chimed in and asked if I could use one of them for my folklore project, to which my coworker (KC) agreed. This is the second joke that she told us.
KC in Mandarin: “谁最知道猪?”
Roman Phonetic: “shei zui zhi dao zhu”
- shei: who
- zui: the most
- zhi dao: knows
- zhu: pig
- Translation: Who knows pigs the best?
Everyone after thinking about it for a while: “Who?”
KC in Mandarin: “蜘蛛人”
Roman Phonetic: “zhi zhu ren”
- zhi zhu: Spider
- zhi: know
- zhu: pig
- ren: man
- Translation: Spiderman (Know-pig man)
Background: My coworker got this joke online when she was getting ready to tell us jokes. The punchline is based on a pun, because the Chinese word for spider (zhi zhu) also sounds like the combination of the words, “know” (zhi) and “pig” (zhu). So the answer to the riddle of who knows pigs the best is Spiderman, which can also be read as Know-pig man or man who knows pigs.
Thoughts: I found this joke to be pretty funny, because I didn’t know that Chinese jokes, like jokes in English, frequently used puns. There are many variants of jokes that play off of the word “Spiderman” that are and have been popular in China and in Asian communities. An example of another joke using spiderman is playing off phrases that sound like “shi bai de ren”, which can mean many different things in Mandarin, but plays off of the fact that “shi bai de” ni Mandarin sounds like “spider” in English and “ren” means man.