Background Information: Informant was an American of Polish descent, traveling abroad in Poland a few years ago with a school trip. At a bar, informant was making polite conversation (in mostly English) with some Polish natives. The Poles told informant their ‘Horse Joke’. The following is the joke as told by informant after traveling back to America.
The Horse Joke: So there’s this really famous race horse, right? But, after winning a bunch of races, he was tired. After… ya know, a few months, this race horse knew nothing but like excitement and retired and.. got bored and, he went to the farmer of this Retirement farm that he was on and he was like “Hey, Mr. Farmer, I’m bored. Give me something to do.” And the farmer says “You know what? I heard about this guy, in town, that can teach any animal to play any instrument in just, one week. So how ’bout I pay for that, and you can not be bored anymore?” And the horse says “alright that sounds like an idea.” One Week. One week later, the horse knows how to play the guitar, which is cool. he’s jamming out.. having a good time, when… a bunny, hops in. This bunny, like “wow I heard the strumming I wanted to check out what was going on I didn’t know there would be a horse in here. Can I, how did you learn to do that?” And the horse went, “Well there’s this guy in town who can teach any animal to play any instrument in a week.” So the bunny went into town, and learned how to play the drums, and then the two were jamming out. Got a cute little band going… a bunny on the drums, a horse on the guitar… playing away. Until one day a bear came through. And, growled and snarled, and then, he spotted them and he was like, “Wow I was gonna eat you guys, but now, I see you playing instruments and, I wanna know how to do that.” They were like, “Well, There’s a guy in town? he can teach any animal to play any instrument in a week.” And the Bear said, “Alright I’ll go check that out.” And he stumbled away and a week later he came back with a trumpet. And then they were all playing their ‘Animal… Band’. People came from all over just to check them out. Bear on the trumpet, bunny on the drums, horse on the guitar. Its quite a sight. It was nice. Till one day, uhh, a music manager came through and said “Hey, I wanna make you guys famous.” And they were all like “Yeah! Let’s Do It!” So they all went on tour to get their name out.. people coming from all over just to see one of their concerts… it was one of the coolest things to see all these animals playing instruments. And they were pretty good, too. Until… and it was all great until the day where they had to go on a plane to go overseas to continue their tour globally. The horse, being an old race horse, he didn’t feel too well. He was like, “Hey guys I don’t feel too good. I don’t think I should go on a plane, I think we should stop. Even though it’s our opportunity.” But the bear and the bunny they were going like, “no no no, this is our chance, this is our big moment, we gotta go now!” The horse, really adamant, like “I really don’t feel good you guys, I can’t.” And they’re like “But we’ll go on without you, But you’ll regret it.” And the horse, thinkin it’s whatever “Ehhhh, whatever.” So the bear and the bunny get on the plane and the horse goes back to the farm to get a checkup. Well right before he gets his checkup, the farmer comes in, saying “I’ve got terrible news, pal. That plane you were supposed to get on? The one with your friends? It crashed, and there were no survivors.” So the horse got into a deep depression that it was all his fault, that he should have saved them, should have told them not to.. get on the plane, been more firm with it- he really just blamed himself. to the point where he even started drinkin’; drinkin’ and drinkin; day in and day out. Until one day, the horse got all of the farmer’s stored up money that he earned from all his early work- playing at guitar. And he said “I’m gonna go down to the bar, and I’m just drink till I’m dead.” So the horse takes all his money, sadly clops down to the bar, opens the door, walks in, bartender looks up and says, “Why the Long Face?”
Context: The joke is a play on an older joke, which is simply “A horse walks into a bar and the bartender asks ‘Why the Long Face?'”. By adding the convoluted background, the joke is less about the punchline and more about making the audience sit through as much lore as possible before the punchline.
Thoughts: It’s interesting to see how this older joke is not only familiar to Americans, but also to Poles as well. Being of Polish heritage myself, it was nice to have a mutual understanding of humor with a people group I have never met, yet am supposed to be connected to. I was told this joke a couple years ago when Informant first came back from Poland, and I remember many differences. For example, the bunny was originally (originally to me) a chicken. I think due to the convoluted plot, the joke has a tendency to change.I have told this joke to several of my friends, and now, it has almost become a rite-of-passage within my friend group. When the joke is mentioned, anyone in the group will moan and tell me to stop, but anyone outside the groups will ask me, “What’s the Horse Joke?”. I will then torture them with 4 minutes of horse-joke ramblings until they inevitably hate me, and hate me even more when the punchline is a joke they’ve heard before. I highly recommend this joke.
For another version of this joke, see
Szathmary, Author Henrietta. “20 Best a Horse Walks into a Bar Jokes.” Horsey Hooves, 2 Nov. 2021, https://horseyhooves.com/a-horse-walks-into-a-bar-jokes/.