Tag Archives: turkish joke

Timur and the Swimming Challenge — Turkish Joke

Main Piece:

But just there’s a guy [Timur], he’s another hero or something. And so this guy is again, think of it as a city— a modern city— and they live next to the beach. And so this guy is like, talking about how good he is at swimming and he’s like, “I’m such a good swimmer, I know so much about it.”

And then his friend next to him is like, “Alright, then go swim.” 

And they’re like okay, so they both go to the sea, and he starts swimming, and then his friend is like: 

“Hmm okay this guy can swim. Well, obviously I’m better than this guy.” So he’s like, “I can jump from a diving board into the pool. I know we’re at the sea but not only I can swim in a pool, but I can jump into it from a diving board.”

And so Timur is like, “Okay, let’s see you do it.” 

So [the friend] goes and jumps from a diving board, and [Timur’s] like:

“Well I can jump from a ten foot diving board.”

And he’s like alright— well his friend— is like, “Well go do it.” 

So [Timur] goes up ten feet, goes to the board, he jumps and he successfully lands! 

And [his friend] like, “What the fuck, what’s going on? How?!” And then he’s like: “Okay well guess what, Timur? I can jump from a two story building, and I’ll be just fine!” 

And Timur looks at him and he’s like, “Go do it, dude.” 

And [his friend]’s like, “Alright.”

So he goes up and he goes to the two story building. He’s looking down, and he’s like, “Alright, I’m gonna do this.” And he jumps… and he makes it! He’s perfectly fine. 

And Timur’s like “Huh? That’s B.S! I don’t know what happened there!” 

And he goes to his friend and he’s like, all mad and he’s like, “I don’t understand this. I can jump into a freaking wine bottle from twenty feet high!”

And his friend’s like, he just stands there for a second, and he’s like, “Do it.” 

And [Timur’s] like “Fine!” So he goes up twenty feet and getting ready and into position, and he jumps! And his friend is furiously looking at him, and as he’s jumping down, he looks at the bottle and he says, “I hope you freaking die!” And he kicks the bottle!

Background: 

My informant is one of my friends from high school, and is of Turkish heritage. Growing up, he often remembered hearing various Turkish sayings and narrative stories from his parents and extended family. This is another popular character he heard about, a guy named Timur, although my informant notes that Timur isn’t actually Turkish, yet he still appears in the stories and jokes. This was another of my informant’s favorite Turkish joke stories, and when I asked him what the lesson was, he said the point is to not be gullible like Timur, and not to be arrogant, or it’ll have negative consequences. 

Context: 

This came after my informant gave me another piece of folklore for the archive, and I asked if he had any other jokes, because I really enjoyed the first one he gave me, to which he then provided the above piece.

Thoughts: 

What I liked about this piece is that we once again see the way that humor is being used as a way to teach lessons to anyone listening to the story. The increasing absurdity of the challenges between Timur and his friend serve as a way to exaggerate the way that people in real life tend to try and make themselves seem bigger than they are, all out of arrogance and a need to be the best at everything. At the same time, it’s a lesson in learning how to be modest; if Timur hadn’t bragged about his swimming skills, he wouldn’t have met his unfortunate end, and his friend wouldn’t have turned on him. I think it was clever to see that these lessons were taught by heightening the comedic scenarios, because it makes us reflect on what we know is real and what’s not.  Additionally, the telling of this story— or at least the way my informant told me— shows that this joke can be rephrased in order to appeal to different kinds of audiences without losing the meaning of the lesson.

Nasrettin and the Villager — Turkish Joke

Main Piece: 

So there are a couple stories and jokes about [Nasrettin] and his interactions with others, so one of them is one villager comes to this teacher and he’s like, “I hate my house, it’s so tiny I can barely sleep. I don’t have enough room to go to my kitchen, it’s like next to my toilet— whatever.”

And so [Nasrettin]’s like, “Alright, well don’t you have a barn?”

And he’s like, “Yeah I have a barn.” 

And then he’s like, “Alright, take your chickens. Put them in your house, it’s gonna get better.”

So [the villager] takes his chickens and puts them in the house, and he comes back the next day and is like: “This is worse what’re you talking about?”

And [Nasretting] says, “Keep going. Don’t you have goats?” 

“Yeah I have goats.”

“Okay. Put them in the house.” 

[The villager]’s like, “Alright, fine.”

So he goes through the barn and he takes the goats, and puts them in the house. So now he has chickens and goats, and the next day he’s even more infuriated and he’s like: 

“Yo, what is this? It’s terrible, I hate my life!”

And then [Nasrettin]’s like:

“Alright, now take your cows and put them in your house.” So [the villager] takes his cows and he puts them in the house and he’s like, 

“I can’t even get in anymore!”

And [Nasrettin] says, “Alright, you feel all this crap?” 

“Yes, I do.” 

“Now, take [the animals] all out.” And [the villager] takes them all out. And then he says, “Now just go and enjoy your home.”

And the guy goes, “Oh my God, there’s so much space now!” 

And that’s the joke.

Background: 

My informant is one of my friends from high school, and is of Turkish heritage. Growing up, he often remembered hearing various Turkish sayings and narrative stories from his parents and extended family. This one features a popular character, a wise village teacher named Nasrettin. When asked about the lesson behind the joke, my informant responded, “the idea behind that is you won’t understand what you have until you lose it, so in this case the villager doesn’t understand that his house is actually not as bad as he thought once he literally had no space to go inside.”

Context: 

This piece came up when I was asking my informant about what kind of Turkish folklore he knew. I initially asked if he knew any proverbs, but he said that in his experience, Turkish culture had a lot of jokes in narrative form, and provided me with this one, which is one of his favorites to tell. 

Thoughts: 

Apart from being genuinely hilarious, I liked how this joke had both a narrative, and a lesson to be learned at the end. With jokes, I usually thought that they were only supposed to be entertaining at the expense of someone else without providing a lesson, but that’s not the case with this one. Based on what my friend told me about knowing more jokes than proverbs, I think it’s interesting to see how humor in his culture (or at least in his experience) is used as a tool for fun and for education. For younger audiences like kids, this narrative has a moral lesson at the end, but for older generations, I think it makes them more aware of how important it is to be grateful for what they have, lest they want to be turned into the butt of a joke. Furthermore, the way that embarrassment through humor can be used to condition peoples’ behavior is fascinating, because in many cases, it can be more effective than other methods because it relies on the impressions you make on those in your peer group, which can either lead you to be accepted by them, or ostracized. Lastly, while I haven’t heard anyone else tell this joke, I liked how we can tell that it’s being performed by someone from a younger generation, based on the slang that my informant used in his telling. It makes me wonder how an older person in the same cultural group would tell it, and in what kind of language.