Text: STEM Majors be like I’m taking a break from mental health for school.
Context of performance: Discord call between myself, informant, and a mutual friend. Mutual friend and I are both STEM majors, and were complaining about how stressed we are. Informant is an art major and cracked the joke during the call.
Informant: It’s like…it’s like a play on, the mental health campaigns right now, y’know? Like people taking a break from like, school and work and stuff for mental health? Like I’m always reading that, that like, people are um taking gap years from school, for like mental health. Y’know that like catchphrase to take a break from school for mental health?
Informant: and just like, none of y’all [our mutual friends who are also all STEM majors] are, like, popping off mentally [translation: doing well mentally].
This joke was particularly funny in this circumstance for a variety of reasons. First, the person telling the joke was an “outsider looking in” – the informant is an art major mocking the suffering of STEM majors. Second, all three of us in this conversation have the background context to make this joke funny (we are all part of a folk group). This context includes a deep understanding of the rigorous course-load of a STEM major, in addition to knowledge about “our generation” pushing to prioritize mental health over academics.
What makes this joke funny, then, is the irony that STEM students instead prioritize their academic education over their mental health. I would bet that other members of this particular group – STEM students – would also find this joke funny (if not also a bit painful).