Q: What kind of underpants do clouds wear?
This joke was collected in a second grade classroom in South Los Angeles. The performer was a student in this class. Immediately after sharing this, another student volunteered to share a joke. He stated the exact same question and the other students said nothing about the repetition that had just taken place. The class waited for the punchline which ended up being “Thunderpants”. The second joke received the same enthusiastic response as the first.
This was a first-hand example of the adaptation of folklore. It illustrates how rapidly changes can occur. It was a matter of seconds before the same joke was made into a completely separate one. This adaptation demonstrates how the horizontal model of folklore functions. One person tells a joke to one person and that person then passes is onto someone else. What is different in this situation is the fact that the original transmitter and the second one performed in front of the same audience. The entire class was provided with two versions of the same joke. It would be interesting to witness how they told the joke to someone who was not present at the time of the original performance.
It is important to note that both punchlines meant the exact same thing, they were just expressed differently. Still, though, the audience of young students did not point out the similarities. Because this was a very short joke, it would be rather difficult to add anything or change it in any way. It would be interesting to see how this kind of rapid adaptation would go over in a group of adults. They would surely pick up on the repetition and point it out.