“Spots on the Wall” by Who Flung Poo

This is a joke my informant learned while in grammar school in the 1970s. He is from Marin County, which is considered the north bay of the San Francisco Area. He said the joke was popular up through middle school, then pretty much disappeared. This he thinks is probably due to growing out of this type of humor, once one hits high school. After hearing the joke, I told it to a friend of mine, who told me they had heard it from their father, who is also from the San Francisco Bay area, having attended school in the south bay.

It seems this joke was popular in the 1970s for children in elementary and middle school, throughout the bay area. Children at this age find the subjects of poop and pee comical when used out of their regular context. It is a time in their lives where bodies are changing and growing and are often the topic of many a ridicule or joke.

The joke is interesting in its format; the set-up is a book or film title, and the punch-line is a name. My informant was not sure how the joke originated, just found it funny and a device for popularity. After hearing one of these jokes, kids would try to make up their own. A plethora of these kind of jokes gained popularity in the 1970s, combining a play on words, with witty spelling, sound, and/or word combinations, to make up some underlying dirty name. These jokes are not always obvious in their dirty meaning, which is probably why children found them so funny and exciting. They feel clever, like they have the inside story, or secret knowledge that adults do not understand.

I remember using a form of this type of joke when I was in elementary school. My brother and I were at our swim club waiting for our mom to finish playing tennis. In our boredom, we would go up to the receptionist, tell her we needed to find our mother and if she would announce her name over the P.A. speaker. “Ivana Pee” as a fake name, was one of our favorites. So she would announce, “Ivana Pee, Ivana Pee, please come to the front desk!” and we would giggle and giggle. The receptionist did not even notice what she was saying, but other kids in the room would snigger or giggle as well.