Tag Archives: death jokes

Plane dead

Q: Ok so do you have the joke or riddle or what is it.

R: Its a riddle

Q: Wait so where did you hear it?

R: I heard it in Southern California at a summer Camp I was at

Q: ok so what is the riddle

R: Ok so there is a cabin in the woods and there are 26 people dead inside. There are no track coming or going from te cabin, what happened?

Q: Um maybe it snowed and the snow melted

R: No

Q: Was it an accident or were they murdered

R: It was an accident

Q: They were there a long time

R: Maybe but that doesnt matter 

Q: I dont know, what happened

R: It was the cabin of a plane and they died in a crash

Context: As the informant said this was collected at summer camp at middle school age in southern California. 

Analysis: This joke definitely came into being after the invention of airplanes and so post 1903 for sure although most likely further after that. As well, this is a joke that makes me think immediately about the genre of dark humor. This is something discussed in great detail in Peter Narvaez in his book Of Corpse. His analysis of the timeline of when it is appropriate to tell a joke like this is interesting to me as I know someone who’s father died in a plane accident and would be highly offended if they heard this joke. On the other hand I know people like Pete Davidson who gets jokes made about his father dying on 9/11 and laughs along. In this regard it would seem to be a personal thing and how each individual deals with trauma.

Self Importance Proverb

Text: “The Cemetery is full of people who couldn’t be replaced” 


My dad told me he remembers hearing this from his father on occasion. He describes it as a reminder that you can always be fired or replaced, and not to take yourself too seriously. He notes that it was essentially a warning about excessive self importance. My dad remembers being met with this phrase if he was being big headed, or cocky. 


This phrase is somewhat of a cross between a proverb and a dark joke. It’s not metaphorical in the typical sense of a proverb, but it uses pre-formulated language to communicate the largely agreed upon idea, that excessive self importance is a bad thing. It’s interesting to note that my grandfather grew up Christian in the Midwest on a farm. This community typically frowns on self importance, so his use of the phrase may reveal rural Christian American beliefs. Then there is the other aspect of this phrase, which is that it makes light of mortality, and the dissolving of identity through death.This phrase falls into the camp of dark humor, which as a genre serves a few societal purposes. It’s possible to apply Peter Narvaez’s idea that in the television age, we are inundated with images of death and destruction while being told that we should mourn for individuals who we have no direct relation to. Dark humor becomes a way of rebelling against the societal pressure to mourn, as well as the institutions that put these tragedies in front of us on a daily basis. In addition, jokes about death such as this one, deal with the inescapable fact that no matter what, death is inevitable. Unlike Narvaez, I also believe that dark humor serves another purpose as a coping mechanism to deal with heavy subjects such as mortality. 

Armenian Mother-In- Law Joke

Joke: There is a funeral for a woman. Someone at the funeral asks the son-in-law how his mother-in-law died. He says that she died from poisoning. The other person then asks why she had so many bruises. The son-in-law states that this is because she did not want to eat.

The point of the joke is that the son-in-law had forcefully poisoned his mother-in-law, alluding to a tumultuous and strained relationship between son and mother in law.

Background Information: Armenian Joke. Not necessarily exclusive to Armenian culture as it is a pretty common topic which shows the often rocky relationship people have with their in-laws.

Context: I was told this joke during a dinner in which we were sharing common jokes within our communities. This was the first joke that came to his mind. He was a little adamant when it came to telling the joke because of its morose content. I assured him that it didn’t matter to me. He told me that this joke was told to him by a few of his male friends at a house gathering.

Thoughts: I believe that this is a joke that looks at the sometimes difficult relationship with parents-in law. This idea has been explored through many cultures, including American culture with films such as Monster-In-Law and Meet The Fockers. It is often difficult to connect and have a good relationship with your in-laws. I think jokes, like this one, are used as a coping mechanism and as a way to make light of a difficult situation/relationship. I find it interesting that this joke was brought up at a house gathering in which a group of males felt comfortable telling this joke, but when it came to telling it to other people such as women, the informant felt uncomfortable. I think this shows that this topic is an uncomfortable one and is meant for very specific groups that will be able to understand and relate to the topic matter.

Morgue Joke

Context: The first time he told me this joke, the informant and I we with this his siblings on a family vacation in Florida, and we were in one of many car rides. They were telling jokes and he remembered this one— saying it was his best joke.

Piece: “Okay you ready? Okay so… uh a widow brings her husband, late husband to the mortician and uh he’s wearing a blue suit and she says to the mortician, ‘I’ve always thought my husband looked best in a black suit.’ She hands him a blank check and says, ‘Don’t spare any cost, I want my husband buried in a black suit. He says, ‘Alright, we can make that happen. Um I’ll see what I can do.’ Then comes the day of the funeral, and uh her husband is there in a beautiful, perfectly fitting blue suit. And the widow says, ‘Oh my god, looks so good, please tell me the cost I would just like to know.’ The mortician says, ‘Actually ma’am there was no cost at all, it was on the house.’ And she says, ‘No, really, I must repay you for this beautiful suit.’And he says, ‘Well, let me explain what happened. Uh, that same day another gentleman was brought in of a similar height and uh shape to your husband and he was wearing a black suit. So I asked his wife if it would be fine, if she cared if she was wearing a blue suit. And she said she didn’t care, as long as he looked nice. Then it was a matter of switching the heads.’”

Background: The informant, a 20 year old college student at Harvard, really enjoys joke telling and found this joke on Reddit, memorized it and found the opportunity to tell it to us. He will usually tell people this joke if asked to tell his favorite joke.

Analysis: This joke is an example of a death joke, a way to deal with repression. This joke forces people to think about death, something people dislike discussing, by using a grotesque and absurd scenario. The joke is demonstrative of how society tries to find the humor in death in order to make the event less tragic and unbearable. It also uses an element of unexpected that is shocking and comical.