Tag Archives: jokes

Snipe Hunting

Informant Information — KL

  • Nationality: American
  • Age: 19
  • Occupation: Student
  • Residence: Los Angeles, California
  • Date of Performance/Collection: April 10, 2022
  • Primary Language: English

The informant shared this story with me in an in-person interview. She participated in a “snipe hunt” during a visit to her grandparents’ house when she was about ten years old.

Interviewer: 

How did you come to participate in the “snipe hunt”?

Informant: 

When I was probably ten years old, my parents sent my brothers and I to spend a few weeks with my grandparents in Arizona. We were super excited to see the desert because my mom told us that there would be lots of cool animals there. 

About halfway through the trip, my grandparents were probably starting to get kind of tired of us, so they told us that we were going to spend a day snipe hunting. They drove us about 20 minutes away from their house and let us run around for like three hours… they didn’t even tell us that the snipes weren’t real! We found out after we got home and told our parents that we couldn’t find any. 

Interviewer: 

Had you heard of snipes before? What did your grandparents tell you to look for?

Informant: 

We hadn’t ever heard of snipes before, I thought they were native to the desert. My grandparents said we were looking for little brown birds that couldn’t fly and had really long beaks. They said that we would have to creep up on them and jump on top of them to catch them. 

Interviewer: 

How did you and your brothers react to learning that they weren’t real?

Informant: 

My brothers didn’t really care. I think they would’ve been happy to catch any animal at all. I was a little disappointed because I really wanted to catch a snipe and hold it, since they were supposed to be soft like birds. Now I think it’s really funny. 

Analysis:

The snipe hunt was a joke played on my informant by her grandparents, but it could also be considered a rite of passage (transitioning from being in the group that doesn’t know what snipes are to being in the group that’s in on the joke). I hadn’t heard of snipe hunting, but I have been sent on similar fool’s errands. As a child, my father once let me run around Home Depot looking for a “left-handed screwdriver” while he was shopping.

Polish Joke

Context: Informant is of Polish heritage, and although they are very proud of their Polish background, they do not necessarily engage in the culture of Poland within their daily life.

Informant: “We used to tell a lot of Polish jokes.  How do you get a one armed Pole out of a tree? You wave to him. I heard this from my grandparents. I have more Polish jokes. Did you hear about the Pole while in a frantic called the police? He said for the police to hurry.  He locked his keys in the car. The police said that it wasn’t an emergency. The Pole said that wasn’t the worst part. His family was locked in the car with them.”

Background Information: Back when the informant was a child, it was common for people to tell ‘Polish Jokes’. Although the Polish slander has decreased dramatically since then, the informant still remembers when these jokes were common. They’ve stated that when they were a child, they were uncomfortable telling people they were Polish. Now, however, they have learned to embrace their Polish heritage, and they tell these jokes with an air of pride. The jokes represent a hardship the Poles have faced, yet by telling the joke themselves, they reclaim the joke for themselves while simultaneously not forgetting the struggle they endured.

Thoughts: Although I have some Polish heritage, I was still uncomfortable listening to these jokes. On one hand, I was uncomfortable having a personal identity attacked, but on the other hand, it was uncomfortable seeing this Polish person slander their own name. I think this encapsulates a lot of the general history of the jokes. They were meant to belittle the Poles, but now the Polish people are fighting against this ridicule and in turn making everyone else uncomfortable instead. It’s an interesting dynamic. I think it is empowering to see these jokes be reclaimed, and the jokes themselves have become representations of power.

STEM Majors be like I’m taking a break from mental health for school.

Text: STEM Majors be like I’m taking a break from mental health for school.

Context:

Context of performance: Discord call between myself, informant, and a mutual friend. Mutual friend and I are both STEM majors, and were complaining about how stressed we are. Informant is an art major and cracked the joke during the call.

Informant: It’s like…it’s like a play on, the mental health campaigns right now, y’know? Like people taking a break from like, school and work and stuff for mental health? Like I’m always reading that, that like, people are um taking gap years from school, for like mental health. Y’know that like catchphrase to take a break from school for mental health?

Informant: and just like, none of y’all [our mutual friends who are also all STEM majors] are, like, popping off mentally [translation: doing well mentally].

Personal Thoughts:

This joke was particularly funny in this circumstance for a variety of reasons. First, the person telling the joke was an “outsider looking in” – the informant is an art major mocking the suffering of STEM majors. Second, all three of us in this conversation have the background context to make this joke funny (we are all part of a folk group). This context includes a deep understanding of the rigorous course-load of a STEM major, in addition to knowledge about “our generation” pushing to prioritize mental health over academics.

What makes this joke funny, then, is the irony that STEM students instead prioritize their academic education over their mental health. I would bet that other members of this particular group – STEM students – would also find this joke funny (if not also a bit painful).

Jokes about Meat Substitutes

Text

AL – What do a dildo and tofu have in common? (Pause) They’re both meat substitutes

Context

I like to collect jokes, specifically puns, on various topics so that no matter what situation I am currently in, I can say, “Oh, I know a joke about that!” I have found that most people have a love/hate relationship with puns; they tend to love telling them and hate hearing them. I mostly tell puns to family and friends, and their anger and frustration fuels me. Though my friends groan and sigh every time they hear a pun, they will still send me any good ones that they find. I also find puns on various social media platforms, in books, and on the occasional popsicle stick. Any time that I find or am sent a pun that I like, I write it in a book that I keep specifically for this purpose. My very favorite kinds of puns are the ones that are long and drawn out, ones that are a paragraph, maybe two, and you get to the end and the last line is a clever pun that uses many elements of the story that came before it. My second favorite kinds of puns are the short rude/dirty ones, because in addition to the reaction you get for any other pun, you also get the shock reaction from the vulgarity. I save the more risqué puns for close friends, as I don’t want to offend the delicate sensibilities of people that I don’t know very well.

Analysis

This is perhaps one of the vulgar puns the informant mentioned appreciating for the shock value. The pun begins with putting together very different objects and suggesting there is a similarity. The punchline depends on word play, as most puns do. Tofu is a food substitute for eating meat. And a dildo is a sex toy that substitutes for a penis, for which “meat” is sometimes used as a euphemism. The comparison of a dildo and tofu goes no further than the words “meat substitutes” themselves because the meanings of “meat” are respectively very different. As the informant mentioned, their goal with their puns is not necessarily to get a full-out laugh, but rather an eye-roll or a face-palm. I do not know how the informant collected the joke (online, in person, from a book…but probably not a popsicle stick for this one) but they tell the story to their friends who have a similar sense of humor, as it is an inappropriate joke and could be offensive to people they do not know well enough to know their sense of humor.

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).