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Bill Clinton and the Pope Joke

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 20
Occupation: Student
Residence: Cambridge, MA
Date of Performance/Collection: March 20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Context: The informant was in the midst of telling his favorite jokes at a party

Piece: “Okay… so… by chance Bill Clinton and the Pope die on the same day, and due to some clerical screw up, Bill Clinton is sent to Heaven and the Pope is sent to Hell. And the Pope’s like nah this ain’t right. So he goes to the… uh… the administration folk and goes and says look I’m the Pope I shouldn’t be here and they’re like oh… we must’ve made a mistake we’ll get that fixed, it’ll take us a day— we’ll get it fixed. So, the next day.. uh the old Pope is walking up the uh pearly white steps and Bill Clinton is walking down and uh they stop, they shake hands, they say hello and uh Clinton says, ‘So, uh father what are you looking forward to most in heaven?’ and the Pope says, ‘Uh, I don’t know, I guess one thing I’ve always wanted to do is meet the Virgin Mary.’ Clinton says, ‘Ah, missed her by a day.”

Background: The informant, a 20 year old student at Harvard, found this joke on Reddit and believes this is one of his best jokes. He enjoys telling jokes to his friends and family.

Analysis:This joke is compelling and intriguing because it combines two radically different public figures in an absurd scenario. The joke plays on Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, insinuating that he has sex with everyone and would even have sex with the Virgin Mary. This piece reflects how American culture views Bill Clinton as untrustworthy and has sex with all women. By putting religion, and such a holy figure in Christianity as the Virgin Mary, this joke further pokes at how Bill Clinton lacks boundaries and respect. The audience recognizes that Clinton has conducted this behavior before and it is ironic that he would do it again, especially in Heaven, where non-sinners (unlike Clinton) would go.

Japanese President and Bill Clinton

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Indian
Age: 45
Occupation: Housewife
Residence: Cupertino
Date of Performance/Collection: 04/26/12
Primary Language:
Other Language(s): Tamil

Transcribed Text:

“When Bill Clinton was in office, the Japanese president wanted to..um… invite him over and meet him. However, the Japanese president couldn’t speak a word of English at all, so he asked his advisers how to greet him when he sees him. His advisers tell him to say ‘how are you’ and when Bill Clinton replies, with ‘fine,’ he should say ‘me too.’ The Japanese president makes sure to learn these, and when he finally meets Bill Clinton, he goes up to him and says ‘who are you’ instead of ‘how are you’ because he did not understand what he was saying. Bill Clinton replies with ‘I’m Bill Clinton. I’m Hillary Clinton’s husband.’ The Japanese president then, without understanding him, replies ‘me too.'”

The informant is a housewife and and currently resides in Cupertino, California. She first learned about this joke when she was watching a Tamil version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The host told this joke on the show and ever since then, the informant has not stopped laughing when she thinks about the joke. She thinks that the joke is extremely funny because of the mistake that the Japanese president makes when he tries to speak English. She also says that she has heard that this joke has become viral on Japanese websites, where some are trying to get Japanese people to become more educated about the English language so that they won’t make mistakes like this.

It is interesting how this joke is told in a way to create humor, but is also used to teach about the importance of learning English in Japanese culture. While English is a mandatory language to learn for Japanese people in middle and high school, many people are still very illiterate in the language. It is interesting how the informant says that she heard that this joke was being sent around on Japanese websites to teach Japanese people to become more literate in a language that is very prominent in this world today. It shows how much importance many people put on the education in the language, especially in Japan.