Tag Archives: Joke

The Bunyip

Text: “When Europeans first came to Australia they were worried about the native people–they did not really understand that it was a foreign place. There was a thing according to native Australians that would hang out in watering holes and billabongs called the Bunyip, and apparently it was some kind of water monster. There is no consensus description of it–some people say it looks like an ape, others say hippo or octopus, there’s a lot of variety. It’s mainly a thing in the northeast, because that’s where a lot of rivers and watering holes are. You don’t hear as much about it in Western Australia, but people still know what it is. The idea is if you go in the water, it will drown you or kill and eat you. I first heard it when I was very little from my parents–I mean there’s books about it and stuff too.”

Context: My informant, TC, communicated the legend of the Drop Bears with me and our other two roommates as we cooked a feast on a Saturday afternoon. This is a common setting for storytelling in our apartment. He first heard this story from his parents at a young age. TC’s relationship to the legend is closely intertwined with his age and maturity–as a very young boy, he believed in and feared the Bunyip, but as he aged he overcame this fear and has come of the age that is responsible for passing the legend down to younger generations. He interprets the legend as a regional cautionary story and as an entertainment piece for believers in the obscure. 

Analysis: In my interpretation, the legend of the Bunyip offers insights into both the Australian outlook on reality and into the historical attitude of aboriginals about Europeans. Nature in Australia can be particularly fatal to unprepared individuals, so it was no surprise that children are often the target audience when the legend of the Bunyip is told. Its aboriginal origin, however, does leave some room for interpretation–to me, it is unclear whether natives simply told Europeans about the Bunyip just to share culture, or if they were looking to play a joke or ward off unwelcome settlers. That being said, similar to Oring’s estimation of in-group folklore, I interpret this legend as a show of local knowledge relative to outsider ignorance–to an unfamiliar European, after seeing some of Australia’s unique wildlife, it would not be outrageous to believe a local explaining the legend of the Bunyip. This legend also highlights the Australian attachment to nature as the Bunyip inhabits watering holes, which historically have been crucial to survival for groups living in drier areas; the dangers of the legend indicate a great respect for the natural world and its power over humans. 

Joke- Buying groceries for a dollar/shoplifting


Grandma: We used to buy bread, eggs, and milk for a dollar.

Grandchild: You can’t do that now! They have CCTV’s everywhere.


JG is my mom; she is 59 years old and resides in Richmond, VA. She works at Legal Aid and first heard this joke from one of her interns. However, when sharing it with me, she said that she doesn’t believe the intern came up with it.


This joke simultaneously reflects the writer’s views on inflation and shoplifting. It indirectly communicates frustration over how the prices of everyday grocery items have risen over the past few decades – bread, eggs, and milk do not cost $1 anymore. Plus, the writer seems to have an attitude of “it’s not breaking the rules if you don’t get caught.” The reason the grandchild feels hesitant to shoplift is not based on morals, but rather a fear of getting caught by CCTVs.

The joke was most likely written in the past few years, due to its subject matter of inflation and its slightly rebellious nature. These aspects make it resonate well with Gen Z. It is succinct and slightly dark, and it contrasts from the overused “dad jokes” that much of society has mixed feelings about. This allows it to spread quickly, as people will often use it to lift up each other’s moods or break the ice in conversations.

I Can See Clearly Now

CONTEXT: DM is a current USC student who attended a North Carolina Christian sleep-away camp in the summer of 2011. This is a narrative joke that she heard from the head of camp, Jimbo. She heard this during Jimbo’s “Breakfast Club” during which he talked about God and told jokes. DM interprets this as a joke and a pun.

Alright, so one time there was this kid named Jim who lived in the fine, fine city of
Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was just coming up into high school, and in his
sophomore year of high school he’d just started to get a little bit interested in girls. And
there was this one girl in his English class that he really liked, and her name was
Lorraine. And he thought “oh my gosh, what an interesting name.” She was beautiful,
she had, like, beautiful eyes, beautiful hair, she was smart. They start talking. They
eventually start going on dates, and at first, everything’s awesome. Y’know, they’re
going on dates, hanging out all the time, getting to know each other, and then right
around when he says, “I love you,” world stops. Everything changes. And now, she is all
over him all of the time. She does not get off his case, is blowing up his phone while
he’s in class, while he’s at home, while he’s at work. And, like, he cannot get away from
this girl and it starts driving him crazy to the point where he goes “I think I need to break
up with this girl, but I don’t know how.” Same time, about halfway through his school
year, they get a transfer student from abroad. And she’s from some hippy-dippy
European family, whatever… she shows up in school and says that her name is Clearly,
and instantly AH, by-God, Jim is just struck over with love. He is falling head over heels
in a second, and he has forgotten completely about Lorraine. He is all about Clearly. All
he has to do is do it. So, he decides “What do I have to do? How can I sweeten the
deal? How can I make this go over without her actually killing me?” And he decides
“Alright, I’ll take her to the finest site in the city of Chattanooga – the Chattanooga River.”
Which, if you’re familiar, just is laden with the most beautiful., impressive, walls and
walls of concrete and big steel churning dams, and puffs of black smoke, and trash
floating all down the river in beautiful colorful sequence. And he takes her down to the
river, and he starts going “Well, y’know, I don’t… I don’t… I don’t really know how to say
this but I, um, I’ve been feeling…” and she’s going “yes?” As they’re walking, he sees
something cool in the river and he thinks “oh my god, what a great opportunity to
change the subject, ‘cause I cannot do this right now.” And he points in the water, and
he goes “Look!” And she turns around and leans over and falls into the river. And she
floats away and eventually drowns in the river. How sad. Oh my gosh. And he’s thinking
as he starts to call the police “Oh my gosh my girlfriend just fell in the Chattanooga
River. She’s probably suffocating on some plastic right now. How sad is this.” And then,
a thought crosses his mind, and he starts singing to himself as he walks away down the
river, “I can see Clearly now, Lorraine is gone.” (To the tune of I Can See Clearly Now
by Creedence Clearwater Revival)

ANALYSIS: This is a narrative joke in which the punchline is a play on a popular song from the 1970s. It is a play on words of the concept of seeing visually versus “seeing” someone in a romantic sense. The set up uses the names of two of the characters, Clearly and Lorraine, which doesn’t seem to be important until the punchline. It also relies on the similarity in sound between “Lorraine” and “the rain.” The punchline is sung so that the audience recalls the music it is based on. The joke will only work if the audience is familiar with the song. Knowing the storyteller, it is clear to me which parts of the story were added or embellished based on her personal preferences and style. It is a great example of how details are changed through oral tradition, even when the basic premise of the joke remains the same. It is also interesting that the main character of the joke, Jim, shares a name with the person DM heard the joke from
originally. It is the only character whose name has no bearing on the punchline. I wonder if that character has a different name in other versions of this joke, or if his shared name is a coincidence. It is also a “clean” joke, suitable for an audience of children at a Christian summer camp.

A Frog, A Bankteller, and A Loan — Long Joke

Context :

W is my 17 year-old brother. He was born and raised in Utah, like me. Since I was the oldest, W always tried to find ways to one-up me. He still does so. This is a long joke my grandfather told him the other day so he shared it with me.

Text :

“A frog wants to get a loan so he can buy a house. One day, he goes into the bank and approaches the bank teller. She has a name tag that says: Patricia Whack. The frog asks Ms. Whack for a loan, but she refuses him. The frog assures Ms. Whack that he knows the owner of the bank because his father is Mick Jagger, so he will allow the loan. He gives the bank teller a button as collateral. Patricia goes into the bank owner’s office and explains how a frog claiming to be Mick Jagger’s son is asking for a loan. The bank manager asks if he left anything for collateral, and Patricia holds up the button, but she doesn’t know what it is. The bank manager laughs and says, ‘It’s a a knick-knack, Patti Whack. Give the frog a loan. His old man’s a rolling stone.'”

Analysis :

Long jokes take long set-ups, and most of the time, they don’t pay off. For this long joke, it takes a whole extra level of knowledge to understand it. My grandfather enjoys telling long jokes because he gets pleasure out of hitting the punchline right on the nose, so it’s no surprise he told this one to my brother. The end of the joke parodies the “This Old Man” song as well as popular culture. If you weren’t familiar with the song or its lyrics, chances are, you wouldn’t understand the joke. Only a small audience will find the joke amusing. Since I grew up hearing that song, I recognized the ending immediately and it made me laugh. If I showed this to a friend who grew up in a different country where the song wasn’t played and Mick Jagger wasn’t a figure in popular culture, the joke would not have been funny to them. It goes to show how jokes work with certain cultures versus others by bringing in aspects that are unique to that said culture.

“A Plane has 500 Bricks. 1 Falls Out. How Many Are Left?” — Long Joke

Context :

W is my 17 year-old brother. He was born and raised in Utah, like me. Since I was the oldest, W always tried to find ways to one-up me. He still does so, and when I called him the other day, he told me he wanted to share a new joke he heard from a friend (so of course I asked if I could transcribe our call).

Text :

W : “Okay, so there’s a plane and it’s carrying 500 bricks. 1 of the bricks falls out of the plane. How many bricks are left?”

Me : “499?”

W : “Correct.”

Me : “That wasn’t a joke.”

W : “Just listen. Okay. You have a fridge and you need to put an elephant inside. What three steps do you take to put it in the fridge?”

Me : “Um. Open the fridge. Put the elephant inside. Shut the door?”

W : “Correct again. Now what four steps do you take to put a giraffe in the fridge?”

Me : “Open the fridge. Put the body of the giraffe in, then his neck. Shut the fridge door?”

W : “You forgot to take out the elephant.”

Me : “Oh my God.”

W : “So now, the lion king is having a birthday party and all the animals in the jungle are invited. Who didn’t show up?”

Me : “I don’t know.”

W : “The giraffe. Because it was in the fridge.”

Me : “Wow.”

W : “Sally is adventuring through the jungle. She comes across a crocodile infested lake. She gets across without getting eaten by crocodiles. How did she do it?”

Me : “She walked around the lake.”

W : “No. She just walked right through the lake because the crocodiles were all at the lion king’s party.”

Me : “I am so confused.”

W : “Last question. Once Sally gets across the lake, something falls from the sky and hits her on the head, and she dies. What hit her on the head?”


W : “A brick.”

Me : “From the plane……?”

W : “Yes!”

Analysis :

This is a great example of a narrative joke, in my opinion. The way that its told is intended to throw the listener off so they don’t see what’s coming next while simultaneously using specific jokes to make the listener assume they know the answers. The long joke is circular, ending right where it began with the brick falling out of the plane. Jokes are used to make the listener laugh. Some jokes, however, are used to make people think and then laugh at the fact that the joke went right over their head. With the long joke my brother told me, he worded it in a way that would make me feel confused the entire time while also feeling like I outsmarted him, just for him to completely make me feel stupid at the end. He once again succeeded at one-uping me.