Residence: Seattle, Washington
Date of Performance/Collection: March 2007
Primary Language: English
Q: What do you get when you stab a baby?
A: An Erection.
While this joke is gruesome and terrible in every conceivable way, it is my informant’s absolute favorite joke. He first heard it from one of his friends in high school. My informant had just told a sexist joke about Helen Keller not being able to drive well because she was a woman. His friend sneered and replied, “You think that joke is bad?” Then, he continued to tell my informant this joke.
My informant explained that when the question was asked, all he could think of was how terrible it sounded to stab an infant. Before he could even begin to construct a reasonable response, his friend delivered the punch line. Of course, such an awful and perverse response is completely unexpected. My informant “nearly died” from laughter and claims to have never laughed as hard since.
Of course, no one in their right mind would stab a baby. Also, only the most indecent of all people could receive enough satisfaction from such an act to sexually arouse themselves. However, in the context of the joke, it makes sense and is humorous (to some) to think that someone would suggest that anyone would feel that way.
The joke works like many others because it delivers an appropriate incongruity. It’s an incongruity because no one expects the answer they receive, and appropriate because it’s funny to think the joke-teller could be that disturbed. But they’re not, so it’s humorous. So, in this case, we’re presented with an inappropriate appropriate incongruity. This joke belongs to a series of similar, equally gruesome ‘dead baby jokes’ that are shared between my informant and his close friends from high school.