Transcribed Text from Informant
“Okay…so…Ole gets home from work, and he and Lena are going to go out on a date. But when he gets to the bedroom…Lena’s completely naked (laughs). So Ole says ‘what are you doing naked’? And Lena tells him that she has nothing to wear…so…Ole goes to their closet and starts shifting through her clothes going ‘what do you mean you have nothing to wear’? (coughs) You have a white dress here, a black dress here, an orange dress here, Sven is here, and a…red dress here.”
Ole and Lena jokes represent a canon of humor found in the Upper Midwest region of the United States (Including North Dakota, the birthplace of my informant). All of these jokes generally center around a married couple – Ole and Lena – and can vary dramatically in length. While not true of every single “Ole and Lena” joke, many of these jokes feature sexual innuendos or blue humour. Sven is also a friend of Ole and Lena that appears every once in a while in the canon of jokes, and is seen in the particular joke told about.
My informant heard many of these Ole and Lena jokes growing up, both on the playground from other kids, and from her parents and parents’ friends joking around with each other at night. My informant chuckles as a response to slight uncomfortableness when I ask her how she interprets it. She goes on to say “Well…it’s…obviously a joke on Lena being unfaithful, and Ole finding Sven in the closet.” She presses that infidelity is not endemic to German-Russians, and that it’s just light-hearted blue humour.
Like many Ole and Lena jokes, this particular joke features sexual innuendos that are common in the Ole and Lena jokes told by German-Russians in North Dakota. It’s a humorous joke that I believe still holds up, hence why the joke’s stayed in German-Russian folklore.
Transcribed Text from Informant
So…Ole and Lena go to the ballet…and after a little bit Ole leans over to Lena and whispers ‘why are they dancing on their toes? Couldn’t they have just gotten taller dancers?’”
Ole and Lena jokes represent a canon of humor found in the Upper Midwest region of the United States (Including North Dakota, the birthplace of my informant). All of these jokes generally center around a married couple – Ole and Lena – and can vary dramatically in length. While not true of every single “Ole and Lena” joke, many of these jokes feature sexual innuendos or blue humour.
My informant heard many of these Ole and Lena jokes growing up, both on the playground from other kids, and from her parents and parents’ friends joking around with each other at night. My informant says that she’s particularly fond of this joke, in large part due to how silly Ole’s observation is.
I agree with my informant that this joke is very funny. The sort of silly, “brain-dead” humor is emblematic of a lot of the German-Russian North Dakotan humor. While nothing in the joke itself references the specific cultural practices of German-Russians, the humor itself serves as a beacon of the folk humor popular within these North Dakotan communities.
Text Transcribed from Informant
“Alright, there’s a mother and a daughter, and the daughter goes running to her mother going ‘Mom, mom, there’s some strange man at the door! And her mother goes ‘does he have a bill?’ and the daughter goes (informant chuckles) No, he’s just got a regular nose.”
My informant claims that he heard this particular Irish joke from his grandmother when she was babysitting him as a young boy. My informant says that at the time he didn’t entirely understand it, because he didn’t realize that a duck’s nasal passages was referred to as a “bill.” However, his grandmother later told him the joke again when he was older, and he was able to understand it then. He says that this experience made him remember the joke, and that he sometimes tells it as small get-togethers with friends or at parties.
It’s somewhat strange to try and give an analysis to a simple joke – it sorts of feels like “over explaining” the joke and hence stripping the joke of its humor. But I found this to be rather funny. I thought my informant’s personal anecdote of hearing the joke for the first time and not knowing what a “bill” was almost funnier than the original text itself, but that’s most likely due to the personal connection I have with the informant. Overall though, it does remind me of other short Irish jokes I’ve heard told.
TEXT: “Guatemala a Guatepeor”
INFORMANT DESCRIPTION: Female, 42, Mexican
CONTEXT: My friend said this phrase while referring to her old boyfriend and her new boyfriend. She said that she had gone from “Guatemala a Guatepeor”, I laughed and asked what that meant. Although it was kind of self-explanatory. She learned this phrase from her other female Mexican friends. She finds it very funny and useful, when referring to going from bad to worse.
ANALYSIS: There is a hierarchy between Latin countries and certain bias. So the use of Guatemala as if that is a step down (from Mexico) but then a play on words since the end of Guatemala, is “mala” which means bad, and then the change to Guatepeor, where “peor” means worse. Indicating you went from bad to worse while inserting some latin hierarchy bias.
ORIGINAL SCRIPT: “Guatemala a Guatepeor”
TRANSLITERATION: “Goo-ah-teh-mah-lah ah Goo-ah-teh-peh-or”
TRANSLATION: “Guate(bad) to Guate(worse)”
THOUGHTS: I thought this phrase was very funny since I speak Spanish and it is such a fast jab that is both funny and descriptive.
TEXT: “Pelo en la oreja…ni duda deja.”
INFORMANT DESCRIPTION: Male, 58, Mexican
CONTEXT: His mother said this Old Age Proverb occasionally, when referring to someone being very old. His mother learned it from her grandparents who used it with each other to poke fun at their old age. It is a well known Mexican saying that is comically but also points out the Life’s Cycle. It can be said in reference to an elderly person that is not listening, pokes fun and is at their expense. It speaks about the fact that elderly people grow hair in their ears.
ORIGINAL SCRIPT: “Pelo en la oreja…ni duda deja.”
TRANSLATION: “hair in the ear, does not leave a doubt”
THOUGHTS: Although this saying is a bit rude, it is also light hearted and not meant to actually insult anyone. I think it is funny and something rare to point out or notice.