Tag Archives: chicken

“Why did the chicken cross the road?” … “Because it was stupid.”

Text: “Why did the chicken cross the road?” … “Because it was stupid.”

Minor Genre: Joke, Anti-Humor


M said, “When my oldest daughter B was three, she told this joke, and everyone thought it was hilarious. She was telling it to my dad and she was trying to tease him back for all of the teasing he was doing to her.”


Although I don’t remember my original telling of the joke, this joke has been repeated frequently over the years in my family, its hilarity stemming from the idea that someone – a three year old girl, no less – had finally put my joke-loving grandfather in his place. I grew up hearing jokes all of the time from my grandfather, who loves to tease people. This joke arose likely as a combination of frustration about hearing the same joke one too many times and a desire to make him laugh.

It is interesting to look at this joke outside of my familial context, as it serves as an example of “anti-humor.” Anti-humor is a branch of humor that relies on irony and reversals in order to create a surprise factor within an already-familiar joke. This is ironic, because the traditional form of the joke (“Why did the chicken cross the road?… To get to the other side.”) is already seen as an example of anti-humor. The listener expects a funny punchline, but instead receive a flat statement about what is logical. In turn, my family’s joke is an anti-anti-humor: the listener expects the traditional answer, “to get to the other side,” and instead receives an abrupt quip: “because it was stupid.”

Knock-Knock Joke with a twist

Background: A traditional American Joke with a prequel to build up the punchline.

Person1: “Why did the chicken cross the road?”
Person2: “I don’t know, why did the chicken cross the road?”
Person1: “To get to the idiot’s house”

Person1: “Knock-Knock!”
Person2: “Who’s there?”
Person1: “The chicken”

Informant: This is a cruel joke that I was the unfortunate victim of in my youth.

Analysis: As a non-American, this is the first knock-knock joke that I found funny. Knock-knock jokes are usually meant for children and the informant confirmed that they heard about this from their elementary school friend when they were young

Sacatito de conejo: Proverb/Gesture

Text: “Sacatito de conejo” “A sack of bunnies”

Context: NO’s relationship to this proverb stems from her Mexican culture and her amusing family. NO grew up listening to this phrase/gesture performed by her dad within her Mexican culture and childhood. She would often hear it from her father or an older relative. Within her Mexican household, she would often hear it used in a way to poke fun at someone who is scared of doing something or someone who backs out of a dare. Typically, this gesture consists of gesturing your hand like the Italian “finger purse/pinched fingers” while simultaneously saying the phrase to taunt and make fun of those who are scared; this is to represent many bunnies given the fact that you have five fingers. NO interprets this proverb/gesture as a way to pick at those who don’t want to accomplish something or who are “too chicken” to complete a certain task or action.

Analysis: The cultural value that I see present within this proverb/gesture is the fact that Mexican culture usually revolves around the connotation that Mexicans can do anything and can accomplish anything. Given this idea, this proverb/gesture stems from stereotypical Mexican beliefs. The personal values that are evident within this proverb/gesture is the mockery that stems from someone’s overall personality and characteristics. I see this proverb/gesture as an overall expression of mockery and amusement. Given that the literal translation doesn’t quite make sense, I assume that the comparison of someone backing out is similar to a cute sack of bunnies. I interpret this proverb/gesture as a comparison factor given that the main idea is to make the individual feel like they represent a cute bunny rather than a badass person. Considering that this is performed typically within a joking manner, I consider this proverb/gesture as a lighthearted action that can inflict laughter and great fun despite the fact that I haven’t heard it within my own personal Mexican culture. 


RITUAL DESCRIPTION: This ritual is called Kapparot. The ritual is done on the Eve of Yom Kippur. The ritual consisted of waving a chicken over everyone’s heads on the eve and the chicken was to be slaughtered. 

INFORMANT DESCRIPTION: Male, 83, Polish, Jewish

CONTEXT: His mother used to do this ritual up until they immigrated from Poland to Mexico in the 1940s. Then his family stopped. It was supposed to be a sort of charity or sacrifice in order for future prosperity. The ritual could also be done with money and then the money donated but his mother believed the blood of the chicken was more powerful. To him this ritual was dated, and he recalled being young and slightly uncomfortable by it. He also felt sad his mother had to give it up when they immigrated because he saw how important it was to her. 

THOUGHTS: I think this ritual is definitely a very specific one in its cultural significance. I think it is slightly extreme to me but that is because I am not close to it culturally but if I were it would not be so surprising. I think all different cultures have rituals that can all sound strange but are significant in their own way. I also felt bad to hear his mother had to give it up in order to assimilate to her new country.

Russian Folk Tale about a Chicken with Golden Eggs

Main Piece: Russian Folk Tale


Однажды жили-били дед и бабушка, и у них была курица по имени Ряба. Курочка Ряба однажды снесла золотое яйцо. Бабушка попыталась сломать его кастрюлькой, но потерпела неудачу. Дедушка пытался сломать его молотком, но не смог. Затем пробежала мышь, ударила яйцо хвостом, и яйцо упало на пол и разбилось. Бабушка и дедушка плакали и плакали, а затем сказала Курочка Pяба. «Не волнуйся, я снесу столько золотых яиц, сколько захотите». И жили они долго и счастливо.



Odnazhdy zhili-bili ded i babushka, i u nikh byla kuritsa po imeni Ryaba. Kurochka Ryaba odnazhdy snesla zolotoye yaytso. Babushka popytalas’ slomat’ yego kastryul’koy, no poterpela neudachu. Dedushka pytalsya slomat’ yego molotkom, no ne smog. Zatem probezhala mysh’, udarila yaytso khvostom, i yaytso upalo na pol i razbilos’. Babushka i dedushka plakali i plakali, a zatem skazala Kurochka Pyaba. «Ne volnuysya, ya snesu stol’ko zolotykh yaits, skol’ko zakhotite». I zhili oni dolgo i schastlivo.


Once there lived a grandfather and grandmother, and they had a chicken named Ryaba. Ryaba the Chicken once laid a golden egg. Grandmother tried to break it with a saucepan, but failed. Grandfather tried to break it with a hammer, but could not. Then the mouse ran, hit the egg with its tail, and the egg fell to the floor and broke. Grandmother and grandfather cried and cried, and then Ryaba the Chicken said: “Do not worry, I’ll lay as many golden eggs as you want.” And they lived happily ever after.


Background Information:

  • Why does informant know this piece?

This was told to her by her mother.

  • Where did they learn this piece?

The Soviet Union

  • What does it mean to them?

It’s a simple children’s tale that doesn’t make much sense but is fun to tell because it is short.



This is usually performed for children in order to distract them or get them to go to sleep.


Personal Thoughts:

This is a very simple and common Russian folktale. It is also makes no logical sense that the grandparents would cry if the egg was broken since they were trying to break it in the first place. It seems that after a lot of retellings of this folk tale some of the information got lost.