The following is the performance of a joke from my grandmother: “I heard this joke from one of my clients…it’s a good one. So, an old man decided that life was passing him by. He had been successful during his life and made a lot of money, and decided it was time to spend it. So, one day, he went to a Porsche dealership and bought the fastest car they had. He immediately took it for a cruise. It was like magic…the car was smooth, fast, and he began to accelerate on the flat, straight, open road….75 mph…85 mph…95 mph…and just as he was peaking 100, he flew past a State Trooper that flashed his lights and gave chase. The man thought he could outrun the Trooper, and sped up, giving himself the thrill of his lifetime…105, 110, 115. The Trooper wasn’t stopping the chase, and the man thought he better stop, so he pulled over as fast as he could and waited anxiously for the uh, the uh Trooper to walk up to the window. So, the Trooper walks up, takes a look at the outside of the car, then the old man inside. ‘OK, I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do,’ he says. He says, ‘I can see what’s going on here…it’s late, no one was on the road, and I was just getting off my shift…so I’m gonna make a deal with you. Give me one good reason why you were speeding up, and I’ll let you go with a warning.’ The old man thought for a couple minutes, and after a few seconds said, ‘well, officer, see my wife ran away with a Trooper thirty years ago, and I thought you were bringing her back.’ The old man was let go.”
My grandmother felt this was comical because of the punch line, when the old man essentially puts down his wife by implying that he would drive 115 mph to get away from her. While this is comical, I would expand on this to reveal the overall societal implications of what that signifies. It shows the classic example of the male seeking independence, free from the constraints of a women or even the law. Thus, it is not only a negotiation and signification of identity between men and women, but also between the man and social structure (the law enforcement). This gap between the every man and structure is deconstructed by the mutuality expressed via the man’s wife, who he wittingly says eloped with a law enforcement officer. In this way, the authority is questioned (after all, what respectful officer would take someone’s wife?), yet simultaneously is given a light side by showing compassion and understanding for the aging man. On this note, the idea of age is also expressed, and its ability to long for the adventurous and youthful individual within. There is then much beneath the surface of this humorous joke.