Tag Archives: humor

BACHELOR PARTY PRANK

MAIN PIECE:

Informant: They chained a bowling ball to my leg… With a––with a, like chain. And I just kept telling them they had to remember not to push me in the pool that night… And they put me in a 12-year-old’s Superman costume. Like literally stuffed me into it, and everything was so far up my freaking crotch. So I was walking around the streets of Vegas in this Superman costume with a bowling ball chained to my leg. Like a ten- or twelve-pounder… Wasn’t like a kid’s ball.

INFORMANT’S RELATIONSHIP TO THE PIECE:

Informant: It’s what’s expected, you know…? Especially with my friends, there’s always that… I think it boils down to just playfulness? Like close through playfulness, you know. Giving each other a hard time, teasing each other, playing a prank on each other. Um… ‘Cause we know that we can. We’re so close that we can do it to each other without it, you know, offending anybody or, you know, somebody taking it the wrong way, or, you know… I think it symbolizes… At least in my group of friends, like you know… You know that when…  You’re stuffed into a Superman costume that you’re part of the crew. You know? And everybody’s having a good time at your expense, and everyone––and you’re okay with that. Cause it’s… It’s going to be somebody else’s turn at some point. 

REFLECTION:

Bachelor parties are a transitional period where a man is neither married nor single. He is on the threshold of becoming a husband. Bachelor parties often involve pranks at the groom’s expense, as practical jokes mark initiations into new identities. In International Folkloristics: Classic Contributions by the Founders of Folklore, Géza Róheim writes that there is a “tendency to punish the main actor of the drama,” with the groomsmen and bridesmaids “abreacting their Oedipal revolt in humorous, permissible form, against the new ‘father’-to-be” (273). Across cultures, the groom is clowned at the hands of the young people involved in the wedding party; he is being teased before entering his new, serious role as a man (which in some societies or families may entail becoming a patriarch, father, breadwinner, and head of the household).

In this specific case, pranks also showcase a closeness amongst the friends involved. The informant is part of a playful group of people who reveal their trust in one another through pranks. Being involved in the pranks demonstrates that you are part of the “in-group”––that you have earned their trust, and that you trust them––that they know you will respond to the prank in a certain manner (by finding it amusing and not upsetting). By pranking the informant, the men are not only marking the groom’s transition from bachelor to husband, but celebrating him as one of their own––he is still considered a part of the group, despite transitioning into a new identity. 

ANNOTATION:

Source cited above:

Róheim, Géza. “Wedding Ceremonies in European Folklore.” International Folkloristics: Classic Contributions by the Founders of Folklore, by Alan Dundes, Rowman & Littlefield, 1999, pp. 243–274.

Jewish After-meal Prayer Alterations

Main Piece:

I talked to two informants who attended the same Jewish summer camp at two different times. 

How did you alter aspects of prayers at camp?

Informant 1: “We change the words of Birkat Ha’Mazon [the after-meal prayer].”

Informant 2: “Though it’s different from when I was at camp before you.”

 חֲבֵרַי נְבָרֵךְ Chaveirai n’vareich (Let us thank God)

  • Informant 1: N/A
  • Informant 2: Rubber tires never break

יְהִי שֵׁם יְיָ מְבֹרָךְ מֵעַתָּה וְעַד עוֹל Y’hi sheim Adonai m’vorach mei-atah v’ad olam.  (Blessed is the name of God now and forever)

  • Informant 1: N/A
  • Informant 2: Naked swimming is illegal in the state of Idaho 

בִּרְשׁוּת הַחֶבְרָה Birshut chaveirai (With Your permission)

  • Informant 1: Your shoes have arrived
  • Informant 2: Bear shit in your eye

לימשיכו Limshicho (The anointed one)

  • Informant 1: Cream Cheese Balls
  • Informant 2: N/A

Context: 

Informant 1 is my twin sister. She attended this camp during the 2010s. Informant 2 is my mother. She attended this camp during the 70s. This information was collected during a family zoom call where we were checking in with each other.

Analysis: 

In general, Jewish youth assign humorous English phrases to Hebrew ones to try and break up the monotonous prayers they are forced participate in throughout the day. At this camp, Birkat Ha’Mazon is said after breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and saying it three times a day gets very old, very fast. Having silly jokes within the prayer makes it a lot more bearable to complete. When comparing the prayer alterations from Informant 1 to Informant 2, Informant 2’s alterations are far more inappropriate and cruder. This reflects the agenda of the camp administration to crack down on these alterations and make them more appropriate. Their biggest issue with these alterations is that they disrespect concepts involving God. If the administration would have it their way, there would be no alterations at all, but for now, they have settled for “Your shoes have arrived” because it is far better than “Bear shit in your eye.”

Spanish Names

What is Spanish Names?

“This game is full of cultural appropriation but here we go: You can only play it with a new person, and you say ‘hey, let’s play Spanish names,’ and someone is in charge and they assign everyone a Spanish name. And the new person, you name them ‘Arted,’ and the other people, you name ‘Maria’ or ‘Rosa’ and stuff like that. And then you go around and you say “Eif” and then your name, so the person names Arted says ‘Eif Arted’ which is like ‘I farted.’ And then you go around and say it louder and louder and faster and faster until the poor new kid is yelling ‘I farted.’ (laughs) It’s totally not real Spanish.”

Where did you play it?

“(laughs) Hebrew School! At our very PC synagogue.”

Context:

My informant is my twin sister. She is Jewish, attended Los Angeles public school, and is currently a USC student. She attended Hebrew school from third grade through high school. This information was collected during a family zoom call where we were checking in with each other.

Analysis:

Spanish Names is a game where there is an obvious in-group and out-group. There are those who have played the game before and understand the joke, and then there is the one person who has never played and is unknowingly going to end up as the butt of the joke. It plays into young children’s senses of bathroom humor through fart jokes, plus it humiliates a new person through a made-up Spanish word places between stereotypical Spanish names. The entire game is a set up to embarrass a single person, which brings a lot of joy to those who are in the know throughout the entire game.

Dirty Rotten Devil

Background:

My informant for this piece is my grandmother, who learned this song from her father and passed it on to her children and grandchildren. She grew up up in North Central Wisconsin and suspects that it came from one of the men’s groups, likely a fraternity, that her father was a part of there.

Context:

My grandma sings this tune quite often in times of relaxation when joking around is warranted. I specifically remember her performing it down by the water on our family vacations to Lake Kathrine, Wisconsin, during summers when I was growing up.

Main Piece:

“I’m a devil, a dirty rotten devil, put poison in my mother’s cream of wheat! I put a blotch on, the family escutcheon, and I eat *slurp noise 2x* raw meat!”

Analysis:

While this piece of lore could be looked at as great example of how dark comedy can play an important role in the relationships between an individual and their loved ones, I want to consider it through the lens of a parent who’s child is mad at them. Given that a the rhyme uses the word “escutcheon” (the spelling of which I had to Google), I think it’s unlikely that it was written by a child. With that in mind, the parent in this situation is able to satirize the childs anger at them by joking that the child wishes to poison them–while that may not be completely true, it’s possible that the parent feels there’s some truth in the statement. Nonetheless, in noting the amount of chaos that children can cause at times, this rhyme shows the wisdom of a parent accepting that fact in their ability to make light of it.

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.