The informant’s demeanor was theatrical, adding to the comedy of the situation. It was overly fanciful, which made it evident that the joke they were planning to tell was something rather simple in structure and recitation.
“Where does the ocean lay to sleep?” they asked, prompting me for a response of some sort.
“Where?” I asked.
They grinned, genuinely a bit proud. “On the seabed.”
They stated that they hate the piece, but it happened to be the first joke that came to mind when they searched their brain for jokes that they knew. They wanted to tell another joke, but simply couldn’t think of one.
WHERE THEY HEARD IT –
The informant found the joke out-of-place in a “knock-knock” joke book they owned as a child.
USE OR INTERPRETATION –
They interpret the joke as a play on words. Specifically, they said “My interpretation of the joke is that it’s funny because the ‘seabed’ is obviously the floor of the sea… so where the ocean sleeps– well the ocean doesn’t sleep– which is, you know, it’s interesting and it’s fun to imagine: if it did sleep, where would it sleep? Naturally, on the seabed which is also a play on the English word of where we usually sleep: bed.”
The joke is effective due to its play on words specifically in conjunction with the English language. It’s simple and easy to understand for an English speaker as a joke that places emphasis on having a double meaning. The joke personifies an inanimate object– the ocean– to provoke the audience’s imagination without immediately giving away the answer. The resulting punchline is easy to understand and is thus satisfying for the audience. “Seabed” is a rudimentary word in the English language that works in fulfilling the audience’s active imagination as they picture a personified ocean sleeping on the ocean floor.