Tag Archives: humor

Mexican Joke: Why did God put Mexico next to the USA?

TEXT: “Sabias due cuando dios hizo el mundo, decidió hacer un país, y dijo así, ‘ a este país le voy a dar millones de kilómetros de playas con el mar mas bonito y caliente, le voy a dar el 90 por ciento de la plata del mundo, le voy a dar petróleo, oro, el mejor clima, y la belleza natural mas increíble que hay’. Entonces un asistente le pregunta , ‘pero dios, porque le das tanto a ese país Mexico?’ “porque le voy a poner a los Mexicanos al lado de los Gringos.’”

INFORMANT DESCRIPTION: Male, 58, Mexican

CONTEXT: This joke is at the expense of Americans but in the context that Mexico lost half of its territory to the US. The joke is to say that God compensated for all the beauty and riches in Mexico by making its neighbor the States. He learned it from his parents, he said it is traditional that parents would tell this joke to their kids when talking about American domination of the world. It is also a joke out of spite, considering Mexico has an economy that lags to the States’ to this day. To him it means that we are subservient to American influence and better joke about it. He likes it because both it reminds him of his childhood and is also historical and witty. Light hearted fun to realpolitiks.

TRANSLATION: “Did you know that when God made the world, he decided to make a country, and he said, ‘to this country I am going to give millions of kilometers of beaches with the most beautiful and warm sea, y am going to give it 90 percent of the silver in the world, I am going to give it petroleum, gold, the best weather, the most incredible natural beauty there is’ and so an assistant asks him, ‘but God, why are you giving so much to this country Mexico?’ ‘Because I am going to put the Mexicans next to the Americans’.”

THOUGHTS: I think this joke is funny to hear as a Mexican-American. I think while it does poke fun it also sheds reverse light on the insecurities and resent of the Mexicans. It is also quite light hearted and seems benign. 

Batman Jingle Bells

Background

The informant is a freshman at USC and is originally from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. She is the roommate of a fellow informant and offered to be interviewed when I went to their apartment to conduct my interview. She has no specific religious affiliations nor does she identify with any ethnic subgroup within the United States. She is referred to as “BS”.

Context

I asked about any humorous jingles or tunes that the informant was aware of.

Content

“Jingle bells

Batman smells

Robin laid an egg

Batmobile lost its wheel

and the joker played ballet.”

I don’t know if that’s where it ends. Is that where it ends? Cause that’s all I remember- the kids singing it on the school bus. School bus was horrible.

Analysis

This rendition of Jingle Bells, using Batman characters, is fairly ubiquitous among children. The origins of it are unknown, but most kids know some version of it. I personally heard a different version, where the last line is “and the Joker got away”, but that is part of the essence of this tune being folkloric in origin – it doesn’t have one set of lyrics but has options. This tune is also demonstrative of the humor of children; they take things they’re aware of (Jingle Bells and Batman) and make it ridiculous. Jingle Bells is not the only song I’ve heard funny versions of – kids do it to all sorts of songs for fun. Children frequently begin to ridicule or joke about subjects they previously liked as a way to demonstrate their maturity; to show that they are old enough to find those “childish” things ridiculous.  

100 Days Chant

Background

Informant is a friend of mine from high school. She is now a junior at USC. She is a first-generation Vietnamese American, and is from Woodbridge, Virginia. She does not have any specific religious affiliations. We both attended The Madeira School, although she graduated two years before I did. Various alumnae were interviewed to compare versions of the same lore from the school. She is referred to as “AH”.

Context

I asked the informant to recite a chant sung by the seniors at our high school.

Content

Interviewer: Can you recite the Madeira chant senior chant for me?

AH: Oh my God. Wait, hold on the 100 days one?

Interviewer: Yeah.

AH: Do I even remember it? Um, how does it start? Oh!

Hark the Herald angels shout!

A hundred days till we get out!

A hundred days till we are free

from this penitentiary

(While clapping)

back to smoking

back to drinking

back to sex!

and evil thinking

hark the Herald angels shout!

A hundred days till we get out!

Analysis

Unlike the other traditions from Madeira, I only asked AH about this tradition, as it has become “canon” at Madeira. This chant is specifically sung after 100 Days, a special day that marks 100 days to graduation. The seniors perform the chant on 100 Days and at all-school events until graduation, counting down to graduation. For example, if graduation is in 35 days, then 35 would be subbed out in the lyrics instead of 100. The origins of this chant, however, are unknown. It is also questionable about how it became endorsed by the school, as it includes references to illicit behaviors, which are very much not allowed by the school. Unfortunately, I had stopped recording at this point, but AH remarked on the hilarity of the statement “back to”, as if Madeira students had been engaging in those behaviors prior to high school. Madeira is extremely explicit in their policies against drugs, alcohol, and lewd behavior, and gets referred to as “Prison School” by some boarding students due to the strict check-out policies for boarders. This chant is entirely satirical and humorous, poking fun at the school, as well as a tool for the seniors to celebrate their proximity to graduating high school.

Beggars have conditions – Arabic Jokes

Context:

He heard these two jokes when he was a kid in Jordan. There were many little fruit vendors back then, and there were a lot of beggars back then too.

Joke 1:

“A poor man wants to sell fruits on a cart to make some money. So a beggar came to this guy asking for something from his cart for free. The guy looked at him, and gave him a small watermelon. So the beggar said, ‘The smallest one? I thought you were going to give me a bigger one. You know what, you will teach people to not beg from you.’”

Joke 2:

“A beggar goes to a butcher, and asks for a free piece of meat. The butcher goes and cuts a piece for him. The beggar then responds ‘You’re not going to cook it for me?’”

Thoughts:

I found these jokes funny because they switch out the expected expression of gratitude with the opposite: an expression of ingratitude. Because they occupy the space between the expected and unexpected, they get the listeners’ attention, and strike them as funny. Because these jokes sound similar to the English saying “Beggars aren’t choosers,” they could have been used as a build-up to an equivalent saying in Arabic (or just the English saying).

“I stopped sleeping on your lap”… “You saved me from your farts.” – Arabic Saying and Comeback

Context:

She learned it from her grandma in Jordan, when she was around 7 or 8. The first time she heard it was when her grandma asked her if she wanted to sleep over, to which she said that she had to go home. Her grandma then said “Rayahtni min fsak” (“You saved me from your farts”).

Text:

Original Script: بطلت انام بحضنك… ريحتني من فساك

Transliteration: Battalt anam bi hodnak… Rayahtni min fsak

Translation: I stopped sleeping on your lap… You saved me from your farts

Thoughts:

I found this saying-response pair really funny, since not many people think of how often children fart while sitting on an adult’s lap. The first part (“Battalt anam bi hodnak”) sounds like it could be swapped out with any declaration of independence that would make the other person upset. The second part (“Rayahtni min fsak”) is a witty response to the declaration that essentially means “You were a burden to me.” The humor of the response makes it easier for the message to get across without sounding rude, since independence can be a touchy subject in a culture where families are tight-knit.