That’s What She Said

Informant: My informant is a close friend who I have known for many years. He is a 23-year-old college student and has lived his whole life in Orange County, California. He currently resides in Los Angeles where he attends the University of Southern California and comes from a prominently Scottish heritage.

I actually collected this piece by somewhat of an accident. As I was talking to my informant and further explaining folklore after we had been talking for a little while, I mentioned to him that it could be something that allows for variation and multiplicity. To make it clearer, I gave him the example of a joke I knew and then said, “see you have this element in the joke but if I wanted to I could, take it out and put this in”. To which he replied, “that’s what she said”.

This joke is very common and it is very widely used. I asked my informant where he first heard this joke and he said, “I have no idea”. Which is understandable because a joke like this is said so much it is really hard to figure out where you originally learned it. I then went on to ask him about the context of the joke and where he usually uses it. He replied, “well definitely not around my mom, that would be weird, but it’s really dumb to be honest, you just use it anytime someone says something kind of sexual and then just interrupt them with that’s what she said. I have also heard people that began to use it way out of context, that kind of became a thing for a while, like someone would just say something normal like “hey pass me the green beans” and someone shouts out that’s what she said. Really stupid but kind of funny I guess”.

This joke is interesting because unlike a lot of jokes, this joke never really made its way to written form because it is situational. You have to look at a situation and apply it, and in this sense it can be used a lot and it was used a lot by many people until it became lame to use it. I think this style of joke also shows a type of obsession with sexuality in our culture. Also it is somewhat taboo to talk about sex so this is another way that people find a way around saying something actually sexual when they put it into the context of a joke.