Tag Archives: Nose

Irish Joke

Text Transcribed from Informant

“Alright, there’s a mother and a daughter, and the daughter goes running to her mother going ‘Mom, mom, there’s some strange man at the door! And her mother goes ‘does he have a bill?’ and the daughter goes (informant chuckles) No, he’s just got a regular nose.”


My informant claims that he heard this particular Irish joke from his grandmother when she was babysitting him as a young boy. My informant says that at the time he didn’t entirely understand it, because he didn’t realize that a duck’s nasal passages was referred to as a “bill.” However, his grandmother later told him the joke again when he was older, and he was able to understand it then. He says that this experience made him remember the joke, and that he sometimes tells it as small get-togethers with friends or at parties.

My Analysis

It’s somewhat strange to try and give an analysis to a simple joke – it sorts of feels like “over explaining” the joke and hence stripping the joke of its humor. But I found this to be rather funny. I thought my informant’s personal anecdote of hearing the joke for the first time and not knowing what a “bill” was almost funnier than the original text itself, but that’s most likely due to the personal connection I have with the informant. Overall though, it does remind me of other short Irish jokes I’ve heard told.

Nose Goes


This piece was collected in a casual interview setting on the informant’s living room couch . My informant (CH) was born in Pasadena, CA, but grew up in a very French household, learning English as her second language. All of her education has been in American schools, but she learned how to read and write French thanks to after school lessons her mom gave her and her older sister. She is currently a Sophomore in high school and enjoys horseback riding, 

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant (CH) and interviewer.

Interviewer: What’s Nose-Goes?

CH: Um, its when you’re with a group of people and there’s this one thing that has to be done but noone wants to do it so you go “one, two, three nose-goes” and everyone tries to touch their nose with their indent, index finger as fast as they can, but the last person to touch their nose loses and has to do the thing that no one wanted to do.

Interviewer: And, um, does everyone know when its going to be initiated or its just like out of the blue?

CH: Its kind of… out of the blue. Like you don’t, don’t say in advance “I’m going to say nose-goes” you just say “nose-goes.”

Interviewer: When did you start doing this?

CH: I don’t know, like fourth grade? 


The popular Nose Goes, in my opinion, is very effective, but very unfair. Basically, the first one to think of the game will automatically not be “it” and if someone in the group is not paying attention, they will automatically lose. For dealing with trivial matters, like chores, taking out the trash, sitting in the car trunk, it is fine, but after a while, if overused, it can start to cause problems in a friend group, or the person to always call it will be labeled as childish. Overall, I believe it can be used once in a while, if everyone knows the rules, and its a fun way for children to learn to pay attention to their peers. 


Follow this link to see more variations of Nose Goes: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nose_goes 

Chinese Folk Belief on Big Noses

Note: The form of this submission includes the dialogue between the informant and I before the cutoff (as you’ll see if you scroll down), as well as my own thoughts and other notes on the piece after the cutoff. The italics within the dialogue between the informant and I (before the cutoff) is where and what kind of direction I offered the informant whilst collecting. 

Informant’s Background:

My parents and I are from Central China, but I grew up in Kentucky.


So my parents would tell me another thing… compared to my mom and dad, I have the biggest nose in my family. My parents would make me feel good about it by telling me that people with big noses tend to be more fortunate in the future.

Piece Background Information:

I guess that’s like a superstition they have, but it made me feel good about myself. They would just point out my big nose and tell me I would be successful in the future, because that’s how it goes. I think it’s a Chinese culture thing.


Context of Performance: 

In person, during the day at Ground Zero, a milkshake shop and cafe on USC’s campus in Los Angeles.

Thoughts on Piece: 

While I did not find any specific accounts of Chinese folk beliefs associating a large nose with success, there are many accounts observing that Jewish people tend to have large noses and also tend to be successful. While I do not quite know where this belief that a big nose could symbolize good fortune came from, it is safe to assume that the informant’s parents probably were trying to make him or perhaps even themselves feel good about what they believed was a big nose. For the record, I do not think the informant’s nose is large.