Tag Archives: family joke

Taste the Soup

BACKGROUND: GH is the interviewer’s father.

GH: “ “Guy goes into a restaurant, orders soup. Soup’s delivered. After awhile, he signals the waiter. The waiter says “sir, is there a problem with the soup?”
The man says, “taste the soup.”
“Is it too hot?”
“Taste the soup.”
“is it too cold?”
“tASTE the soup.”
“Is it too spicy?”
“Taste the soup.”
“Is it too bland?”
“Taste the soup.”
Finally, the waiter, now exasperated, says “okay.” He goes down to taste the soup, and says “there’s no spoon.”
The man: “A-HA!
My dad used to tell me the joke, and I used to say “taste the soup” when someone finally came up with a solution to a problem, often one right in front of us. No one ever got it.”

ANALYSIS: “Taste the soup” is a traditional folk joke, one that has become specific family folklore. Eddie Murphy performed it in Coming to America, but my father had heard it for decades prior as a young boy. The punchline has been appropriated as a short-hand, which shows the joke’s dexterity and cultural staying power (even if not many get it).

Worthless Men


The joke was collected when a friend came over for dinner and told the room about this family custom.



The following is a joke told to me by the interviewee.

A joke that we always say in the family is that the men are worthless whenever they do something wrong. Cherokee legend that women were created because men were worthless and so my family will say, when the men in the house were being trash, that they are so horrible that women had to be created. So if my Dad did something wrong, my mom would joke that of course he did something wrong, because men are worthless and that women had to be created to solve all the problems.



This joke is one that is used to make fun of the men in the household. While very funny and can very much be used as a means to poke fun of the guys in jest, this joke actually holds historical meaning as well. Cherokee women, unlike many early women colonizers from the West, had a lot more power. They were independent, could own land, could leave or divorce their husband, etc. The Cherokee society was based on matrilineage, it was the women and the mothers that determined the family. And thus this joke holds true in how the Cherokee people were brought up.

Nickname Mix-Up

Informant Info: The informant is a 22-year-old male who was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and comes from a Catholic family. He currently is a senior at USC and is very into half-marathon and marathon racing.


Interview Transcript:

Interviewer: Any major proverbs or inside jokes within your family?


Interviewee: My mom always calls me Pedros Diaz  um because… and that’s I mean when people are like “I don’t really get that”. But what happened was I was a kid…when I was like 10. We were in Costa Rica for like my dad’s vacation and we were learning Spanish and I was just not very good at it and the guy just kept quizzing me. He was like “Yeah, so you know like what is your name? How old are you?” And I just got confused at the time and he was like “How old are you? PEDRO! And he’s like “what’s your name?” DIAZ!! So, I my Spanish mixed up and then, so he was like “AH Pedro Diaz!!!” And then I guess my parents have just called me that ever since. And then other proverbs I would say umm my parents always said just like treat others like you want to be treated… Uhh so I know that’s a pretty common one. But one they definitely had me remember and whenever I strayed from that they would sit me down and say something like “Is that how you want someone to treat you in that sense” or something like that. I think those are great first steps words like developing like any sort of empathy. I just realized that while my parents are really good. Like if I did something like I said I’m their friend they would really speak out to be like how does that make you feel that you’re in their shoes. And so, I think very encouraging that through something like that phrase made me think about other people’s perspectives. So, I think it definitely I feel like I still do think about it on my way. But I feel like as a kid I probably thought about it more than many a lot of other kids. So, I would say them saying that definitely made me feel more empathetic as a kid.



This collection resembles an inside joke on a family level. The informant’s simple mistake in learning a new language turned into an inside joke when the Spanish tutor just went along with calling him “Pedro Diaz”. Instead of laughing at the moment and letting it fade into the past, his parents held on to the memory. It was a shared moment and serves as a joke within the family. Individuals outside of the family may not understand the meaning behind it, but to the informant and his family, the simple nickname holds a fond memory that brings laughter. When telling the story, he visibly and audibly got excited and cheerful when describing the context of the story. This will likely be a joke that will continue to be passed down within the family to his kids.



Never Ever Ebbers

L is a 53-year-old homemaker living in Winnetka, IL. L grew up mainly in the northern suburbs of Illinois, but she also lived in Germany and England for a while when she was younger. L speaks English primarily but she is learning French. L attended both the University of Southern California and the University of Wisconsin Madison for her undergraduate college education. L considers herself to be American. She does not really identify with her Welsh ancestry.

Me: What’s something funny your family likes to joke about?

L: Oh! Never ever ebbers.

Me: What is that?

L: Well, they are a very creative and inventive name for a drip castle made on a beach.

Me: Ok. Where did they originate?

L: They originated in Ogunquit, Maine, on a small lighthouse beach. My four year old daughter was sitting on the beach and she was very engaged in making this castle and I remember leaning over and saying “can I help you make a castle?” And she just looked at me and said it is not a castle, it is “Nebber Ebber Ebbers.” I think she was trying to say Never ever land or something like that.

Me: But ebbers stuck?

L: We sat there making ebbers forever. I swear we were making ebbers for three hours. And then my husband and I kept asking what is never ever ebbers, and she would reply, “it’s nebber ebber ebbers!” so, the funniest part was when we asked her if we could eat the ebbers. She said no. Is ebbers a castle or a house? She’d say no. And finally I just agreed with her that it must just be never ever ebbers, and I learn something new every day.

Me: So it’s a family thing then? Like a joke.

L: Yeah. We’ve reminded her about it ever since then. We sometimes ask her what it means. when she was 10 we asked her what it meant and she said “what?” Then we asked her if she remembered the drip castles and she was like, “oh!” Then she shrugged her shoulders and said “I don’t know.” I guess we’ll never know! It’s sad, but it’s still funny.

L talks about a the name that her daughter created for the drip castles she was making. The phrase that her daughter started has become a family joke and now drip castles are called “never ever ebbers.” They will probably never know the reason she came up with the name, but it doesn’t seem like that matters. It’s justa  funny memory and a story to tell any time anyone ever makes a drip castle.

A Cookie A Day

This is a joke passed on in the family of my informant, and dates back to his grandfather. It plays on the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. His father would have a cookie for breakfast every day, saying that he didn’t need a doctor or an apple and that he would rather have a cookie. He died in his fifties from heart complications.

This has now become a joke in their family; every time someone feels ill, a family member would recommend that the person start eating cookies for breakfast, and gave rise to the adapted saying in their family that “a cookie a day keeps the doctor away”.