The Blonde and the Tickle-Me-Elmos

The Joke:

A blonde girl was hired at a Tickle-Me-Elmo factory. The owner of the factory told the girl to tickle each of the finished Elmos twice before sending them out to be packaged. Later that day, the owner heard howls of laughter coming from the room the girl was assigned. When he went back to check what was going on, he saw the girl attaching two marbles in between the legs of the Elmos. As he started chastising her, she replied, “But you told me to give them two test-tickles.”


The informant claimed she remembered this joke from having performed it for an audition to MC a sixth grade talent show. She had learned it from her two older siblings who are 4 and 5 years older than she is.

That the informant had even understood the humor of this joke when she was 11 is rather astonishing. When asked why she finds the joke funny, the informant admitted that part of the humor for her now rests in how the joke is embedded in the memory of the experience, of knowing that the joke was inappropriate and yet telling it to a teacher, who had given her permission, anyway. In this situation, it seems there are multiple interactions at play: on one level, the lore is tied personally to the informant through the particular memory of having rebelled against decorum and on another, perhaps the lore itself has become how she has adapted the memory into the telling of the joke. In performing it as a sixth grader, the informant illustrated the use of humor – puns, innuendos – to subvert the rules she grew up on. Performing it now, the informant reveals how the performance of folklore can affect future performances of the piece. By telling the story in full with the joke weaved into it, the informant has the opportunity to not only entertain, but also share her experience of having grown up with older siblings and whatever other details she chooses to include. In short, this informant exemplifies that one’s experience in performing folklore can be the focus of the experience as a whole in and of itself.