Residence: Los Angeles (from Honolulu, Hawaii)
Date of Performance/Collection: April 20, 2013
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese
“Ok, so when Captain Cook was discovering the Hawaiian islands, he had a servant carry him from the ship to the shore. And he sat on the servant’s shoulders, and then was carried to shore! And then the servant was like Why kicking? Why kicking? And then Captain Cook continued to kick his legs while on the servant’s shoulders, and then the slave again says Why kicking? Why kicking? And then because, and then it’s later found out, that there were sharks in the water. And that is why Waikiki is called Waikiki.”
My informant recalls this joke that her piano teacher told her. She says he liked to entertain people, and was a 60-something year old man. She remembers going to monthly recitals at a nursing home, where he would often set the mood by telling jokes and funny stories. She suspects he did this to try to bridge the generation gap between the performers and the audience. His humor made it easier for everyone to mingle together after the performance.
I think it’s a good example of people showing that they belong to a specific group through folk humor, as this is a place-based joke. Captain Cook was a British cartographer and navigator who mapped parts of the Hawaiian Islands on his explorations, and this joke puts a humorous spin on how one of the places he encountered got its name. Interestingly, my informant switched between ‘servant’ and ‘slave’ when she was telling this joke, which reminded me of the ways in which jokes can cover aspects of culture that are normally considered taboo in everyday conversation.