Tag Archives: funny

TCHANTCHÈS

–Informant Info–

Nationality: American

Age: 53

Occupation: Senior VP for a development company

Residence: Pheonix, Ariozna

Date of Performance/Collection: 2022

Primary Language: English

Other Language(s): N/A

(Notes-The informant will be referred to as MW and the interviewer as K)

Background info: MW is a father of 2 who grew up and now resides in Pheonix, Arizona. He lived in Belgium for a period of years, which is where he heard this story.

K: Ok! What’s the name of the story, where did you hear it, and what’s the uh…context of the performance?

MW: It’s titled “Tchantches” and I heard it from my friend Fish while I was uh staying in Belgium when I was like 19. I was just told it by Fish, but he said that he uh…was told it when he was like a child, like as an uh…campside or bedtime kinda story like to uh teach kids what they should be I guess. Kind of like a fable? Its hard to equate to an American story.

K: Ok, whenever you’re ready

MW: Ok so uh…this is a bit of a long one. So, the story goes that Tchantches was born way back in like…700 or something like that in Belgium between like 2 paving or uh cobblestones. His first words were demanding a Belgian drink called uh…God, I don’t remember (The informant pulled out his phone and googled it at this point) Peket! A drink called Peket

K: Is that like alcohol?

MW: Oh god yea, it’s the thing every Belgian drinks to get wasted *laughter*. Anyways, so he demanded Peket and his father, who adopted him, gave him like a cookie dipped in it. Then uh..later on at his baptism I think, the person dunking him in the water bumped his nose and it became all like messed up and disfigured and became like…it was used for carnival masks. Because of this, he became avoidant of going outside until a big crowd, because he had become beloved in this area, encouraged him to go outside during uh Saint-Måcrawe’s Day. He would come out smeared in like chimney soot on a chair escorted by a bunch of people, where everyone would get drunk *laughter*. There’s a moral in there somewhere, about how even ugly people can be loved which was kinda an odd thing. There’s a bunch of statues and stuff of him all over Belgium, and he’s famous for being a part of a puppet show! That’s where most kids hear the story for the first time.

K: Very ugly duckling meets Pinocchio

MW: Very. There’s also a part to the story where he meets I think Charlemagne’s nephew but that was added on later and is kinda dumb, I don’t even remember it. But he’s supposed to kinda represent the ideal Liégeois (Belgian). Rebellious, independent and could drink his body weight, but incredibly kind and willing to die for those he loves.

Interpretation:
I really liked this story! I think, and the informant also agreed with me later on, that there’s a large element of Pinocchio In this story or a lot of similarities. A boy who is born in odd circumstances faces some major hardships, and with the help of people he loves and who love him, gets over those hardships and becomes a hero in a sense. I also would like to note how Tchanctes is supposed to be an ideal Liegois. He’s famous for being drunk pretty much all the time, from his first words demanding alcohol to, as the informant would later mention after this story was told, his dying words being for Peket. That obviously speaks volumes about what people idolize as a perfect man. Alcohol is a large part of so many cultures, especially in places like Belgium. In a sense, it’s definitely humorous, but it’s also serious. From the way the story was told to me, it was almost as if Tchantes was kind and good normally and when drinking. He is a character that you’re supposed to aspire to be like, and this is only reinforced by the statues and puppet shows and festivals held every year. It’s interesting to note how young children are told the full story. In American culture at least, many parts deemed inappropriate for children, like alcohol, are left out until they are older. In this story, children are told about alcohol as soon as they can comprehend it. Again, it speaks volumes about the importance of alcohol in Belgian culture.

For another version of this story, see: Sherzer, D. E., & Sherzer, J. E. (1987). Humor and comedy in puppetry: Celebration in popular culture. Popular Press.

“El que se fue a la villa, perdió su silla.”

TEXT: “El que se fue a la villa, perdió su silla.”

INFORMANT DESCRIPTION: Female, 60, Mexican

CONTEXT: This proverb was said to me when I got up from a table and when I retuned my seat had been taken.  It is used when situation like that occur and can also be applied in any situation where someone leaves a metaphorical post and then someone else takes their place. Common proverb said to children when first learning responsibility and possession. Also used jokingly between adults. The informant learned it from her parents as a baby and continued to use it sparingly in her life.

ORIGINAL SCRIPT: “El que se fue a la villa, perdió su silla.”

TRANSLITERATION: “Eh-l keh seh foo-eh ah l-ah vee-yah, peh-rr-dee-oh soo see-yah.”

TRANSLATION: “He who went to the town, lost his chair.”

THOUGHTS: I have always heard this saying and also learned it growing up. I have used it on occasion when it fits but have also heard other variations.

LINKS TO OTHER VARIATIONS: https://www.inmsol.com/spanish-proverbs/el-que-se-fue-sevilla-perdio-su-silla-finders-keepers-losers-weepers/

https://www.buenastareas.com/ensayos/Pancho-Villa-Se-Fue-a-La/6667926.html

Ethiopian Anecdote – The Lazy Student

Main Piece 

Once there was a boy who did not understand math. His teacher tried teaching him subtraction, but the boy would not understand. So, the teacher explained with an example.

“If I have five sheep,” she asked, “and one of them leaves, how many sheep are left?”

The boy answers, “no sheep will be left.”

The teacher lost her temper and shouted, “How could there be no sheep left?”

The boy answered while crying “I know the sheep’s character! If one goes, all will follow!”

Context 

This joke is told to children to teach them about the followers in society and distinguish them from the leaders. 

Background

My informant was born and raised in Ethiopia. He heard this joke from his father. He recalls that this joke was his first exposure to the concept that people can exhibit characteristics of sheep. My informant likes this joke because he comes across many people in his line of work that remind him of this joke.

My Thoughts

This joke is incredibly relevant today, even in the United States. There is much talk of a group of people being “sheep” because they follow the lead of certain celebrities or politicians. This kind of rhetoric is popular because it can apply to both sides of a political spectrum. Two opponents can both claim that the other is a “sheep” for merely believing something different. I also found it interesting that a message such as this was communicated using a classroom setting with children. This suggests that even young children are astute enough to recognize when someone is a sheep, and that it does not take a genius to do so.

“Don’t eat yellow snow”

Context: My informant is a 54 year-old woman from Cuban descent. She grew up in Los Angeles, California and lived there until she moved to San Diego for college. Listed below is an account of one of the first jokes she remembers. She detailed that her parents used to use this joke whenever they were in the snow or mountains. 

Interviewer: “Do you have any tips?”

Informant: “Don’t eat yellow snow, that’s a tip!”

Interviewer: “Where did you learn that?”

Informant: “In Big Bear hahahahaha

Thoughts:

Big Bear is a popular mountain with lots of snow near Los Angeles, California. The joke is a silly reply to the interviewer inquiring about any recommendations. The idea of “yellow snow” insinuates that someone or something might have peed in it. Obviously a person would want to be advised not to eat the snow because that would be unsanitary. This cheeky reply is something that could be told to a waiter or any other worker that one would tip. I found this joke very funny and did laugh for a long while with the informant. I will be telling this joke to friends when we go to the snow and the joke will continue on! 

Proverb – Come and hit me bull

Context & Background:

An example of a proverb similar to ‘asking for it’. Translated from Hindi to English.  Informant – collector’s father.  

Performance: (in person)

Proverb: “Aa Bail Mujhe Maar”

Transliteration:

Aa: come

Bail: bull

Mujhe: me 

Maar: hit

Translation: Come bull, hit me.   

Explanation: When someone tells you this proverb it means that you’re asking for it. It’s like a person is walking around in a red cape, asking the bull to get agitated and hit them.       

Analysis:  

Yet another example of calling someone out for making a mistake. This one is easier to understand because the translation makes sense in English and in Hindi. This is more frequently used than others because of how easily it slides off the tip of the tongue. When you don’t complete the chores that mom gave you and she comes and scolds you later, you can say that you were asking for it or, “Aa Bail Mujhe Maar”. But this would not be a good instance to use this proverb, because you are comparing your mom to a bull, and unless you want more yelling, you should use a different proverb.