Tag Archives: pun

Juan and the Otter


My father is an avid storyteller with a number of “dad jokes” in his back pocket. An electrician by trade in Southern California, his stories often come from the blue-collar line of work that he finds himself in. This joke story is a memorate whose origins my dad can’t remember. I first heard this joke as a kid while we were swimming in my aunt’s backyard pool. I remember him drawing out the story for as long as possible, maintaining the seriousness until the final punchline at the end, hinged on a play on words that harkens to the phrase “you can’t have one or the other.” He told me this story over dinner at my family home in this particular iteration.


TS: You want to tell the Juan or the otter one?

SS: Yeah. Well, there was once was a man. And he lived on a Caribbean island. And he used to go diving for pearls.

SS: And his name was Juan. And Juan and his wife lived a very simple life. They just lived in their little house and, and he’d get enough pearls to, for them to survive, and they were happy. And one day he was on his boat when he’s eating his lunch. And this otter jumped up on the boat, swam up and came up on the boat and it shocked him. And the otter looked at him and looked at a his food, and so he gave the otter some food. The otter ate his food, and he gave it a little more food, and uh, the otter looked at him and dove off the side of the boat and went away. And pretty soon the otter comes back with big arms full of oysters in his in his flippers, and he dumps them up on the boat.

SS: So Juan opened up the oysters and found many pearls. And he realized that the otter could dive down way farther than all the other pearl divers. So he befriended the otter, and they made a partnership. So they would go out and they would they would get the pearls together, the oysters. So pretty soon it became a thriving business. And they work dad started to have, you know, bigger house and, and lots of nice things because they got so many pearls and so many oysters. And so they started charging a lot of money for the services of this otter because they’ve you know, had enough, right? So one day the, this-this stranger came and he talked to the, to the wife and he wanted to know about hiring the hiring Juan for the day, and the otter and she–and she gave him the price. She said well, it’s $2,000 a day. And he was shocked. He was freaked out. And he said, “Well, that’s crazy.” She says “What?” “Well, how much for just–just Juan?”

SS: She said, “[imitating an accent] Oh no, señor, they are a pair. They only work together, you cannot have Juan without the otter.”


This joke falls into the category of a tale that has a final punchline to deliver the pun that it hinges upon. Having heard the story before, I know it follows the oral-formulaic method of storytelling, as he will lengthen or shorten the story depending on how invested the audience is. There are certain key motifs to remember in the story: of course, the phrase “Juan or the otter” is one, Juan as a pearl diver, his wife as his manager, and the stranger who asks for their services. When I first heard the story, I was around 10, and my dad told it with a conviction that made me believe the story is true until the very end. As such, he drew the story out to be much longer than this iteration, but this has every part of the story necessary for it to function. Given that I already know the punchline, I think he was less detailed in his oration.

While my father doesn’t remember where he first heard the joke, I imagine it can be traced back two his Mexican American coworkers, as it is set in the Caribbean and involves using a general Latin American accent to deliver the final punchline. The joke falls into a blanket category of “dad joke,” often garnering groans of disappointment from his audience when the final punchline is delivered.

The “Round Tuit”

  1. Text
    The “Round Tuit” is a circular, coin sized disk often made out of wood, but could be other materials, with the word “TUIT” printed or engraved.  Sometimes they’re accompanied by additional engravings that say something along the lines of “This is a Round Tuit. Guard it with your life, as Tuits are hard to come by, especially the round ones. This is an indispensable item. It will help you become a more efficient worker. For years we have heard people say, I’ll do it as soon as I get a Round Tuit. Now that you have one, you can accomplish all those things you put aside until you got a Round Tuit!”
  2. Context
    I learned about Round Tuits when I was a child, perhaps around 6 or 7, and barely understanding the concept.  I discovered one laying around at my grandma’s house and asked what it was.  My mom explained the idea, and told me how my grandpa used to own them and pull one out whenever someone would say, “I’ll do it when I get around to it.”  We used to have one wooden one and one red plastic one, and for a while as a kid I would hold on to them in case I had the opportunity to give one to somebody.  
  3. Interpretation
    My interpretation of this folk object is that it’s merely punny humor in the form of an item and right up the alley of my parents and grandparents.  I can see how an object like this would be a funny interjection in a conversation and could also even fall into the category of dad jokes.

Joke – animal pun


“Why can’t a leopard hide?”

            “He’s always spotted.”


DT is an 18 year old who was born and raised in Southern California. He is currently attending Colorado State University, Fort Collins. He loves jokes almost as much as he loves animals. He told me this joke over the phone when I asked about what his favorite jokes were. He informed me that he originally heard this joke from one of his professors in an animal biology class.


This joke is interesting in a few ways. First, this joke uses homophones as its main tool. The use of the word “spotted” refers to two different meanings, both of which are engaged in the joke. Leopards are covered in small spots, but this word also refers to being seen because the leopard can’t hide. This joke is essentially a pun. It’s also interesting to note the complete falsity of the joke. It claims that leopards cannot hide well because of their spots, when in reality, their spotted nature helps them blend in tremendously well with their natural environment. Understanding this adds another layer of humor to the joke because it adds to the silliness. This joke was told in an academic setting in an animal biology class where many hearing it would probably understand the humorous inaccuracies, where if told to a person outside of this community, they might believe this to be an accurate joke.

Lithuanian Knock Knock Joke (Pun)


Speaker 1: Tuk Tuk

Speaker 2: Kas ten?

Speaker 1: Česnakas 


Speaker 1: Knock Knock 

Speaker 2: Who’s there?

Speaker 1: Garlic


IZ is a 20 year-old college student from Lisle, Illinois, living in Los Angeles, California. Both her parents’ families immigrated to the United States during World War II and remain connected to their Lithuanian roots through strong immigrant communities in the US.

IZ described this joke as a “Lithuanian take on American knock-knock jokes.” The punchline comes as a pun that requires an understanding of Lithuanian. “The ‘who’ is omitted because it’s part of the word for garlic,” IZ explained. “See how ‘kas’ and the end of ‘česnakas’ are the same?”

IZ first encountered this joke at Camp Dainava, a Lithuanian camp in Manchester, Michigan, which she has been attending “ever since I was in my mom’s stomach.” They would often sit around a bonfire — here IZ emphasized the importance of bonfires in Lithuanian culture — and share jokes and skits. For IZ, the camp provided a way to bond with other people of Lithuanian background, and share language, culture, and folklore.

IZ added that the camp was founded by an organization with the aim of helping Lithuania declare independence by getting American international recognition.


This is a classic example of a knock knock joke as it is found in many cultures and languages around the world. It is interesting that IZ sees it as a take on American culture, since, in true folklore fashion, determining the origin of a joke style is more complicated.

It is notable that this joke was shared in a multilingual setting at IZ’s Lithuanian Camp, since it requires knowledge of the language to understand its pun. This type of folklore, as it is shared around the bonfire, would be the most difficult to understand if someone had limited knowledge of the language. Skits and other more performative jokes could be grasped through context, but this one is purely linguistic. Thus it may have served an interesting function of encouraging fluency and establishing a measure of belonging to the cultural group.

Lastly, the context of IZ’s Lithuanian camp and its history provides an interesting example of how institutions can preserve folklore and culture in the interest of nationalism — even outside of the country itself. Further study could examine which immigrant cultures within the United States have the strongest folklore preservation and why.

Puerto Rican Sock Pun

GM is a college student studying communications. She is Puerto Rican and grew up in Miami. Both of her parents lived in Puerto Rico before moving to the United States and passed on Puerto Rican culture to her and her siblings.

Context: This joke was told over the dining room table while eating lunch. The informants family tells this one.


GM: There are so many Puerto Rican jokes.

Collector: Tell me one.

GM: There was one we [her and her family] were saying on FaceTime the other day. My grandma tells this one.

There is this Puerto Rican guy who goes into a store, and he is trying to talk to his lady and get some clothes. He doesn’t speak english. so he’s like
¿Tienes cosas que pones debajo de los zapatos?
Lady: “Huh?”
So they keep going back and forth and then the lady is like “socks?”
Hombre: “ah, eso si ques!”
Lady: “God damn it! if you could spell it this whole time, why didn’t you do it the first time?”


There is this Puerto Rican guy who goes into a store, and he is trying to talk to his lady and get some clothes. He doesn’t speak english. so he’s like
Do you have those things you put under your shoes?
Lady: “Huh?”
So they keep going back and forth and then the lady is like, “socks?”
Hombre: “Oh yes those!”
Lady: “God damn it! if you could spell it this whole time, why didn’t you do it the first time?”

GM: I love this joke but it only works in Spanish, because “eso si ques” sounds a lot like s-o-c-k-s. I love being bilingual because I am included in this type of joke.

Thoughts/analysis: This joke is one of many that blends two languages to make a fun pun. When GM recited the joke I genuinely thought it was funny because I can understand both English and Spanish. If someone who did not understand any Spanish was told this joke, they likely would not understand it because “s-o-c-k-s” would have been the first thing they heard. Seeing as joking is a huge part of cultural life, this joke and other Spanglish puns show how linguisticly diverse a culture is.