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!


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. 


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.


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.