Metatalktail Hour: Joke Grenade! July 27, 2019 5:34 PM   Subscribe

Good Saturday evening, MetaFilter! This week, theora55 wants to know, "What's a joke that took you ages to get or appreciate?" If you can't think of any joke grenades, you can just tell us your best joke!

As always, this is a conversation starter, not limiter, so tell us everything that's up with you! And hit me up with ideas for future metatalktails!
posted by Eyebrows McGee to MetaFilter-Related at 5:34 PM (183 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

In Television's classic "Venus", Mr. Verlaine says that he "fell right into the arms of Venus de Milo". It took me about 2 years after hearing that before I thought, "hey, wait a minute..."
posted by equalpants at 5:46 PM on July 27 [17 favorites]


This has happened to me several times with roller derby names. Some because you have to say them out loud (Barb Dwyer) and I'd only read them, some because I didn't get the reference (Blanche Deverauxxx -- when I finally saw my first episode of the Golden Girls, I was like, oOOOOOOOOOH) and some because you have to take the whole jersey including the number into account (Paige NotFound, 404).
posted by coppermoss at 5:47 PM on July 27 [9 favorites]


Oh God. I used to have a mental list of the ones it took me decades to figure out. The only one coming to mind is Frigidaire which I sort of said as frigi dare... When it's fact it's clearly frigid air. Dammit.
posted by chasles at 5:50 PM on July 27 [18 favorites]


....chasles, that is news to me.
posted by coppermoss at 5:51 PM on July 27 [28 favorites]


That thing that Kevin Bacon’s character is doing at the beginning of Apollo 13 with a beer bottle and an empty glass. It took repeated viewings before I realized he wasn’t demonstrating how to dock a space station. Ahem.
posted by janepanic at 5:58 PM on July 27 [5 favorites]


Had a joke come back and bite me today after a few weeks. I answer a TON of phone calls, and the conversations I have are fairly limited by the subject matter so I wind up having the same few conversations over and over again. Much to the dismay of my direct super, I get bored sometimes and like to spice up the convos just a bit. My absolute favorite opportunity for this is just after I answer a call with my schpiel, and the the caller asks, "Is this a machine?" Sometimes I simply answer, "yes" and we go on with the conversation like nothing's the matter, but occasionally (usually when the caller realizes the absurdity of potentially asking a machine if it's a machine and is just about to continue with their real questions) I just say my opening schpiel again.

Terrible, I know, and unhelpful to boot.

Anyway, the last caller I tried this on found it hilarious and was happy to remind me of how funny she thought it was today at her appointment. I'd forgotten by now, of course, a few weeks later, and was utterly mortified.
posted by carsonb at 6:02 PM on July 27 [15 favorites]


Sometime in the 1990s, I was a tourist in NYC buying a treat at Veniero’s, a bakery. Looking for help, I asked a woman behind the counter, “Excuse me, are you free?” She said, “No, I pretty much have to stay here.” It took me years to realize she was making a joke.
posted by dywypi at 6:07 PM on July 27 [42 favorites]


In Douglas Adams' book So Long and Thanks for All the Fish ("the fifth book in the Hitchhiker's Guide trilogy"), there's a minor character named Arcane Jill. It wasn't until the, it don't know, fourth or seventh time rereading it that it hit me - archangel! Gah.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:12 PM on July 27 [20 favorites]


About 6 years ago a guy knocked on my door wearing a t-shirt which read "comme de fuckdown". I just assumed it was some unfunny take on Comme de Garcon but couldn't work out what a fuckdown was.

Until last year when I said it out loud for some reason, and I was like, oh I get it now. Still don't think it's very funny though.
posted by Miss Otis' Egrets at 6:19 PM on July 27 [3 favorites]


I remember seeing Dr Strangelove as a kid and thinking that it was a funny movie about the end of the world and then when I rewatched it as an adult I realized that I'd missed all the sexual references and dick jokes. I must have been impressively obtuse as a kid since the film is basically 100 minutes of penis jokes.
posted by octothorpe at 6:33 PM on July 27 [9 favorites]


It took me ages to get and appreciate this joke:

Two elephants are in a bathtub.
One elephant says, "Pass the soap."
The other elephant says, "No soap, radio!"
posted by Rob Rockets at 6:41 PM on July 27 [10 favorites]


There were 30 cows,
and 28 chickens.
10 didn't.


homophones are hard, i guess
and maybe we all have a lot to learn about cows and their culinary habits

posted by sillyman at 6:57 PM on July 27 [13 favorites]


"...rather than do an interview with me--which would be fascinating, by the way, because of the interesting word usements I structure--"

A weird throwaway line from Steve Martin's "L.A. Story." It's not really that funny but my brother and I quote it to each other all the time.
posted by sugar and confetti at 7:20 PM on July 27 [6 favorites]


OK, as someone whose inner Beavis And Butthead usually triggers at the least sniff of an innuendo I don't actually know where I stand on this one. I read something a while back which in passing asserted that comedian Ken Dodd's signature song (cover):
"Happiness, happiness, the greatest gift that I possess,
I thank the Lord I've been blessed,
With more than my share of happiness!"

... was either originally intended or repurposed as a "My Ding-A-Ling" style dick joke -- "a penis, a penis...."

Be that some sort of musical, music hall revisionism or merely naivety on my part, I've been giving NIN's "Happiness in Slavery" so much one-eyed side-eye ever since.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 7:42 PM on July 27 [3 favorites]


I finally got the cows and chickens one, but I'm still mulling over "No soap, radio!" and trying to decide if I should google it or see if I can eventually figure it out on my own.
posted by Redstart at 8:00 PM on July 27 [10 favorites]


I don't get cows and chickens or "no soap, radio". Hopefully, I'll suss them out before there's another opportunity to share similar stories so I will have something meaningful to contribute to that thread.
posted by she's not there at 8:11 PM on July 27 [3 favorites]


When you plant Cheerios you get bagel trees.
posted by dancestoblue at 8:16 PM on July 27 [3 favorites]


28 = twenty (of them) ate

I’m at a loss about the soap radio though.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:20 PM on July 27 [5 favorites]


Spoiler alert: No soap, radio.
posted by carmicha at 8:42 PM on July 27 [12 favorites]


In Douglas Adams' book So Long and Thanks for All the Fish ("the fifth book in the Hitchhiker's Guide trilogy"),

It took me about 10 years, and asking an Englishman, before I got the joke in Ford Prefect's name.

I have dim childhood memories of a TV sketch comedy show called No Soap, Radio.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:07 PM on July 27


And here I was trying to Google Translate "no so predio"
posted by p3t3 at 9:16 PM on July 27 [12 favorites]


Knock knock
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:25 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


It took me about 10 years, and asking an Englishman, before I got the joke in Ford Prefect's name.

Um... little help?
posted by Jpfed at 9:38 PM on July 27 [3 favorites]


"What's a joke that took you ages to get or appreciate?"
It was called "love" but it wasn't love -- it was gravity. Not saying that there was not love there but it was intertwined with gravity, and done so in such a way that it sure took an awfully long time "to get or appreciate" the humor in it.

I began to understand it when learning about how space-time bends around massive objects, how if an item gets close enough it will either orbit or fall smack into the more massive object, like if you put a big honkin' rock on a sheet of rubber, and how a ball falls inexorably down and into that rock if placed anywhere even remotely close on that rubber sheet.

First off I had to get sober, of course. Put the plug in the jug, as they say. And shake through those first years, like one of those vibrating beds in those no-tell motels in the 70s, where you feed quarters into the slot and the box spring shakes you around some. And then, in this therapists office and in that therapists office I began to find out just exactly what was the number of the bus that ran me down. And would still run me down, in visits or phone calls to family members, if I wasn't just absolutely, awfully careful, and even if I was.

It's rather like a detox -- after visiting Dear Sweet Depressed Panic Stricken Jesus Jumping Mom and Manic Depressive Work Addicted Charming Violent Unbelievably Hilarious Dad and Charming Crazed Violent Hilarious Alcoholic Brother I'd have to bathe myself in the soothing, cleansing waters of the office of whatever therapist was at hand. Which I, too broke even to pay attention, absolutely could not afford, but found I absolutely could not afford not to have, too.

To add an even richer, deeper strain to the hilarity, manic depression runs in families, like -- "Tag! You're It!" And I got tagged.

I just hate that part.

You would, too.

The most confusing piece of it all is that there was -- and is -- a huge amount of love entwined in it, real love, genuine love. Love as a verb. An action. A giving. A huge caring, one for another. The Real Deal. Plus, gravity does hold closely, and mixed with love it feels like safety, and warmth, and probably it is. It's totally human, it's a big part of the show. I have over these long years absolutely learned to appreciate the humor in it all, and can even laugh at it, some.

But: I've got to be careful. Always.

I keep my sponsors number on speed dial.

I walk slowly.

I drink water.
posted by dancestoblue at 9:52 PM on July 27 [11 favorites]




Wow, I had no idea about Ford Prefect. It was funnier as a random pair of words that almost managed to sound like a normal name.
posted by Redstart at 10:19 PM on July 27 [4 favorites]


I always thought it was supposed to be "perfect", ironically misspelled.

I was over 30 before I got the old "why did the chicken cross the road" joke. I always thought it was one of those jokes that was supposed to be funny because it's not at all funny. You know, the expectation of a punch line, but then just a mundane factual answer.

Ok, it's still not that funny, but it does make sense.

I still do a few things nobody ever gets (or at least admits to getting), like tapping on digital meters like we used to do with analog gauges.
posted by ctmf at 11:22 PM on July 27 [7 favorites]


Not until one week ago, when the Eiderdown FPP was posted, did I finally get this elementary school joke: "How do you get down off an elephant? You don't, you get down off a duck!" All this time I had thought it was one of those "wacky, surrealist" jokes.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 11:24 PM on July 27 [11 favorites]


There's this grim/dim joke which I knew to deliver at age three or so, without at all getting what it was about. I remember telling it to people on the neighbor's farm and the guy doing the hay almost fell off the ladder laughing:

Holding up a closed fist. "What is this?" "Dunno, a fist??" "A sawmill worker ordering five beers."

Ok. ok. I know.
posted by Namlit at 12:04 AM on July 28 [21 favorites]


We used to say "No soap--radio" at home. I think our best theory was "This radio station offers only high-quality programming! No soap operas!".

The joke I still don't get is the one in the old translation of Erich Kästner's The Flying Classroom. "We are going to speak of the moon--look at me!" Can any German speakers enlighten me?
posted by huimangm at 1:26 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


Jessica Rabbit's immortal line in Who Framed Roger Rabbit: "I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way."
posted by sugar and confetti at 2:57 AM on July 28 [3 favorites]


This joke:

Q. What has four wheels and flies?
A. A garbage truck.

I first heard that joke when I was six. I didn't get it until I was twelve.

I had been laughing at it for six years, simply because of the absurdity, and then one day it idly came to mind when I was about twelve and after pondering it a few minutes I suddenly sat bolt upright and realized "Wait. Flies."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:30 AM on July 28 [25 favorites]


On a walk in the woods near Charleston, SC, there was a porta-potty with a logo on the front door: Eure. I immediately saw it as "you're a peein'"

This evening I mentioned Eure to my super-pedantic librarian friend and even she didn't get it right away.
posted by bendy at 4:38 AM on July 28 [2 favorites]


There were a bunch of homophobic, sexist, and racist jokes I heard growing up, but it took me until I was 21 or 22 to understand that they were offensive. 1991-ish.
posted by bendy at 4:58 AM on July 28 [5 favorites]


And oh yeah, after eight months unemployed I finally got a fucking job.
posted by bendy at 5:00 AM on July 28 [26 favorites]


It took me a couple of years to figure out "eat poop you cat."
posted by bendy at 5:16 AM on July 28


Ok so not a joke, but similar. I lived in rural Malaysia for a few years, and there were lots of hand painted signs for car washes that always read the same thing:

POLISH
WAX

For the entire time I lived there I was always befuddled. You know? What is a Polish wax anyway? Is it a special method? A special material? Who knows. Years after moving away it just hit me randomly while I was at work. It is a small p!

In my defense (as someone who washes their car biannually), I feel like you was first and then polish, so the sign should have had the words switched.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:23 AM on July 28 [10 favorites]


I had a book of knock-knock jokes when I was a kid and there were a few in there that completely mystified me - it wasn't until I was well into adulthood that I realized they were based on old songs, which of course were songs I didn't know as a kid, and the book didn't communicate that you were supposed to sing the answer anyway; e.g.

"Knock-knock."
"Who's there?"
"Amos."
"Amos who?"
"Amos behavin', savin' all my love for you..."

See also "Sony"..."Sony a paper moon"; "Sam and Janet"..."Sam and Janet evening"
posted by Daily Alice at 5:56 AM on July 28 [9 favorites]


I am shockingly obtuse when it comes to jokes. I think it's an autism thing, I tend to take stuff fairly literally. This has led to a code in my family "bud vase" which is deployed when a joke has been made, but it has gone right over my head.
So it's been a wet couple of weeks. And the damp in the garden has finally killed everything susceptible to mildew. I had to rip out the peas and it was a mess. Oh well, room for the chayote now. For my birthday I had potatoes. And one of the first Black Krims. Man home grown potatoes are amazing. But despite the weather and mess it's been a fairly productive week, and it's going to get even more productive on my upcoming days off. I have plans! Plans that involve exotic fruit and not so exotic onions!
I leave you with a slug. And as a palate cleanser- a really good dog.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:11 AM on July 28 [4 favorites]


Q. What has four wheels and flies?
A. A garbage truck.


The alternate punch line is, of course, "Two pairs of pants."

POLISH
WAX


I got "POLISH" as a Charades prompt once. I'm not sure how long I danced that polka before making the connection.

Congrats, bendy!

Homo neanderthalensis, now I have such a craving for new peas and new potatoes in butter.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:26 AM on July 28 [5 favorites]


A year after I started reading 2000ad (so 1983) there was a one off character in the Judge Dress strip, a terrible and insane composer called Karl Heinz Pilchards-in-Tomato-Sauce Clayderman. I got the food reference and the Richard Clayderman reference but it was 30 years before I realized they were also referring to a real composer.
posted by biffa at 8:50 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


> The joke I still don't get is the one in the old translation of Erich Kästner's The Flying Classroom. "We are going to speak of the moon--look at me!" Can any German speakers enlighten me?

huimang, I'm guessing it's a joke about baldness, and maybe also having a round head, like the moon. 🌝
posted by rather be jorting at 9:02 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


My favorite porn star: Ginger Lynn
posted by chavenet at 9:02 AM on July 28


I guess I didn't know for a long time that the (English) Beat song "Save It For Later" is punning on, "Save it, fellator."
posted by fleacircus at 9:34 AM on July 28 [5 favorites]


Borrowed from the edibles thread.

. So I had some more, probably about a quarter of the cake, still nothing an hour later.

They tell me when they got home, I was buzzing around the apartment like a pinball, asking the TV and the radio "Where's the Hertz?" and asking them who hired them and what for. The told me they took me outside and threw a tennis ball for me and the dog to chase until I was sleepy. I remembered none of this the next day, but my notebook was filled with gibberish, not even random letters just letter-like symbols.

posted by Oyéah at 9:45 AM on July 28 [3 favorites]


ctmf, there's more to that chicken joke! There's the factual answer (to get to the other side of the street), but there's another one, too: The Other Side is another name for the afterlife. Meaning, the chicken's probably gonna die in the effort and end up in birdy heaven, possibly on purpose.

It works on both levels. It's really the perfect joke.
posted by mochapickle at 10:20 AM on July 28 [16 favorites]


As stuck up as I am, I am vulnerable to the perfect dumb joke. I’m thinking particularly of a line from an Andy Daly show. In it, Dalton Wilcox (Daly) is boasting about having shot the Invisible Man, and says: “You won’t not be seeing him again.”
posted by Countess Elena at 10:24 AM on July 28 [14 favorites]


I thought I had posted a story about my Dad, that prompted me to suggest the topic to Eyebrows, but can't find it, and it's too humid to type much. I grew up in Ohio, there was a local chain of stores that sold a lot of books & magazines, as well as convenience store stuff - sandwiches,soda, eventually pizza. Took me well into adulthood to parse Readmore as Read More.
posted by theora55 at 10:47 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


It was a wet & cold Spring in Maine. So, so many mosquitoes, still, and they and the blackflies kept me out of the garden for ages. I got a handful of peapods, they went in so late. Have had some green beans, and the tomatoes are looking promising, including 1 Black Krim. n\Now we have hot sunny humidity which the tomatoes like. I really don't want to deal with yard work, but there's a patch of invasives that need to be cut back. Daylilies are a blooming, I dug some up for a friend. Another fiend gave me irises, and I started a new patch. I have moonflowers in big pots, twining over hoops (made from the wire posts of abandoned campaign signs). Assuming they will produce flowers, should be quite something.

I have a sour cherry tree because I love pie, and New England does not recognize cherry pie, only apple. Last year, the cherries hit ripeness and the birds got every single cherry in 1 day. This year, I used deer netting to protect them, sorry birds, and yesterday I made this. Worth using the oven.
posted by theora55 at 11:03 AM on July 28 [11 favorites]


My mum used to drive past a couple of signs for businesses every day: TYRECITY and AUTOCITY. She wondered for months what tyrècity and autòcity were (some kinds of archaic virtue?), before finally realising they were advertising Tyre-City and Auto-City.
posted by daisyk at 11:17 AM on July 28 [8 favorites]


mochapickle: i know! That's what took me 30-some years to get. And I really did laugh at the joke unironically when it dawned on me. I think I was watching some 70s movie or TV show or something when someone said "the other side" quite seriously, and then the chicken joke hit me, causing me to laugh. Which was then double funny to me, thinking about what it looked like to the observer who couldn't read my mind, suddenly breaking up laughing at this very serious thing (whatever it was)

POLISH
WAX


Oh man that reminds me of when I was a kid. On the highway at each exit would be, unlike the full-on advertising signs now, just terse little signs indicating what services were available. Some I remember were GAS FOOD PHONE LODGING. Anyway, in my little kid routine we only went a few places, and it so happened that the exits I saw all the time had GAS PHONE. And I swear that my dad had something to do with this (a la Calvin's dad in Calvin and Hobbes) but he denies it. I was convinced that was somehow a gas-powered phone, you know, in case the electricity was out and you needed to call someone. I always wanted to see that phone to see how it worked, but I was afraid to ask.
posted by ctmf at 11:31 AM on July 28 [10 favorites]


A gathering of 4 spies at a bar discussing a Target.

French. " We know were they are"

Israeli: "We know were they sleep.

Russian: " We know how they sleep"

American: " I know, we sold them the sheets.
posted by clavdivs at 11:38 AM on July 28 [4 favorites]


Thanks to Twitter my friends no longer have to put up with the stupid jokes - often terrible, complicated, puns - my brain gives me (and I have to tell someone just to get them out of my head). Thanks to Google, I can see how many people have thought of it before, and often I realise they're so unfunny I lose interest altogether. Which is good.

One I remember is when I was walking down the street and we pass a baker's shop with a sign in the window that says "Fresh Bread Rolls". "Oh, for god's sake!" I say to my friend in mock annoyance, "So does stale bread as long as it's round."

I'm probably unbearable.
posted by Grangousier at 11:47 AM on July 28 [25 favorites]


oh, now I find it.
... the other day, I remarked that I feel privileged to have grown up with A, So Many Books, and B, dinner table conversations that were interesting.

My sister stuck with the piano. There's a classic piano tune Long, Long Ago, (and Far, Far Away). I can't tell you how many times my Dad said to her Play Far, Far Away and how we all said Dad, it's Long, Long Ago. My Mom laughed and rolled her eyes. My Dad cackled. Not one of us got the joke until after he died.
posted by theora55 at 11:50 AM on July 28 [23 favorites]


thinking about what it looked like to the observer who couldn't read my mind, suddenly breaking up laughing at this very serious thing

And then how that explanation would go. Why am I laughing inappropriately? Well, see, I mean, have you ever heard the joke about the chicken crossing the road?
posted by ctmf at 11:51 AM on July 28 [4 favorites]


I'm also unbearable. I used to live with someone who was obsessed with keeping his car clean. We lived about three blocks from a car wash, and when he wanted to go there, which was often, I'd always say, "Oh, it's such a nice day, we should just walk."

Crickets.

So either he never got the joke, or he did and found it awful. We'll never know. I still find it marvelously stupidly funny.
posted by mochapickle at 11:53 AM on July 28 [43 favorites]


In the early 70s, I used to love the PBS show “The Electric Company.” There was a character who was a detective named “Fargo North.” The idea was that he would get mysterious written messages and would have to figure out what they said, so he would put them into — yes, you guessed it — the Fargo North Decoder.

I didn’t get the joke for literally 30 years, until my first husband pointed it out. I eventually ditched the husband, but I do have to give him credit for that one.
posted by holborne at 11:54 AM on July 28 [20 favorites]


We've got a handful of technicians who can't seem to stay out of trouble, which usually results in them being administratively disqualified for some amount of time. They then have to jump through all the hoops to get qualified again. As if every time you got a moving violation in your car, you had to go take the driver written and skills test at the DMV again.

I like to refer to them as our "most qualified" technicians. By number of times qualified, that's literally true. Nobody ever gets that joke.
posted by ctmf at 12:07 PM on July 28 [14 favorites]


Happy birthday Homo neanderthalensis!
posted by ellieBOA at 12:12 PM on July 28 [2 favorites]


See, that’s hilarious!
posted by mochapickle at 12:12 PM on July 28 [1 favorite]


Regarding Polish Wax, when I had the sort of job where certain beauty rituals were expected, I had a standing appointment at a manicure shop. My favorite nail technician hailed from Trinidad, but inexplicably had a sign at her station that said, "POLISH POWER." Off and on, for months or maybe years, I mused (to myself, thankfully) about what a wonderful and diverse family background she must have. And then one day, the penny dropped.

Regarding "No soap; radio," I hate that "joke" with the heat of a thousand suns. I remember jerks classmates springing that one on me while laughing uproariously. Failing to understand, I kept asking why it was funny, only to be mocked for not getting the "joke." So, to make it stop, I professed to understand it at last... prompting my tormentors to demand that I explain it, which of course I could not do using conventional joke logic. Obviously eliciting both reactions from the victim is the point. But in hindsight, I'm sure I protested, "But it doesn't make any sense!" which is, of course, the correct answer.

I've never appreciated Douglas Adams, Benny Hill or much of the Monty Python oeuvre, so I must lack the gene for surreal humor. I do like surreal estate, however.
posted by carmicha at 12:50 PM on July 28 [5 favorites]


I had a friend who laughed uproariously every time we drove by MOTHERS TINTS AND GLASS. I always asked what was so funny and he wouldn't tell me. Many months later I drove by at night and the neon had some letters burned out. It read MOTHERS TI TS AND __ASS.

More neon humor: there's a TexMex restaurant named El Patio in Austin. Years ago, the the sign lost its black wrapping tape that blacked out the descending connection from the the P to the A making it read EL RATIO.

Since then we have always called it El Ratio (ray she o) or El Rattio. We felt it deserved scorn as the only TexMex restaurant that served SALTINES instead of tostadas.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 1:12 PM on July 28 [5 favorites]


I think it took me over 15 years to get this joke from the movie The Breakfast Club:

Emilio Estevez: What's bizarre? I mean we're all pretty bizarre! Some of us are just better at hiding it, that's all.

Molly Ringwald: How are you bizarre?

[pause]

Ally Sheedy: He can't think for himself.

[another pause]

Emilio Estevez: She's right.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:34 PM on July 28 [12 favorites]


a humble nudibranch: I had a friend who laughed uproariously every time we drove by MOTHERS TINTS AND GLASS. I always asked what was so funny and he wouldn't tell me. Many months later I drove by at night and the neon had some letters burned out. It read MOTHERS TI TS AND __ASS.

Oh man, out with a group of friends, we were driving to a restaurant for dinner and went past an auto shop where the "T" had burned out, so the big neon sign said "IRE AND LUBE" and we spent the rest of the evening laughing about the store where you could buy frenemies slash fiction.
posted by tzikeh at 2:00 PM on July 28 [13 favorites]


Grangousier, that so reminds me of a programmer I used to work with, who, when someone said to me "you rock", asked why that guy was calling me a rock.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 2:32 PM on July 28 [2 favorites]


I joke at work that I am the least competitive person in the whole company. No one ever gets that it's a joke (a true joke, but still, a joke!) at first. A couple times people have come back to me the next day to yell at me.

And I was well into my 30s before I got the that this classic exchange is sort of a joke (and a slightly mean one):

"See you later!"
"Not if I see you first!"

(Because the implication is that if I see you first I'm going to avoid you and make sure you don't see me.)
posted by rhiannonstone at 2:50 PM on July 28 [6 favorites]


No Soap, Radio.
posted by octothorpe at 2:55 PM on July 28


A nonsense poem by Lewis Carroll took me about twenty years to get.

'Tis the voice of the lobster, I heard him declare
You have baked me too brown, I must sugar my hair
As the duck with its eyelids, so he with his nose
Does his belt and his buttons, and turns out his toes.

I passed by his garden, and marked with one eye
How the owl and the panther were sharing a pie
The panther got piecrust, and gravy, and meat
While the owl got the dish as its share of the treat
The panther received knife and fork with a growl
And concluded the banquet by--

and there the person reciting is cut off. I grew up with the poem and never really thought about it too hard, and then, one unremarkable night well after college, I literally sat bolt upright in bed from a sound slumber and recited the end of the line.

It is now one of the poems I repeat to my child at bedtime, in hopes that they will eventually have a similar experience.
posted by Rush-That-Speaks at 3:21 PM on July 28 [8 favorites]


My friend, as a tender young girl: “What did the elephant say to the man?”
All the adults in her life: “I don’t know. What did the elephant say to the man?”
Friend: “How do you eat with that thing?”
Adults: ??!!!!!

It was years before she realized she was telling a penis joke.
posted by Knowyournuts at 3:36 PM on July 28 [16 favorites]


"Never assume anything, it makes an ass out of you and me."

I don't want to talk about how old I was when I first heard that and didn't get it, despite quite obvious clues.
posted by bunderful at 4:13 PM on July 28 [1 favorite]


I was in my thirties when I realized the "self-service pumps" line in "One More Minute" was probably a masturbation joke.
posted by Mutant Lobsters from Riverhead at 4:44 PM on July 28 [3 favorites]


Not a joke, just a talktail thing: farmers' market jalapeños are not like grocery store jalapeños.

Whooooooooo.
posted by curious nu at 5:00 PM on July 28 [8 favorites]


I had an "oh jesus fucking christ" moment when I watched A Clockwork Orange for the first time when Alex trying to put his hands on the woman's breasts looked so much like bart reaching for the two cherry-topped cupcakes after Lisa had caught him over and over in baited traps and he couldn't do it.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:23 PM on July 28 [4 favorites]


Thanks to Twitter my friends no longer have to put up with the stupid jokes - often terrible, complicated, puns - my brain gives me (and I have to tell someone just to get them out of my head). Thanks to Google, I can see how many people have thought of it before, and often I realise they're so unfunny I lose interest altogether. Which is good

Whenever I think of a particularly awful pun I will Google it and occasionally someone has not only thought of it before but is also selling t-shirts. This is why I own a shirt that says "habitat for huge manatees" and one that is all the Avatar The Last Airbender characters with their elements, plus Sokka shouting "heart!"
posted by Space Coyote at 5:37 PM on July 28 [2 favorites]


> "It took me about 10 years, and asking an Englishman, before I got the joke in Ford Prefect's name."

I didn't realize that the character name "Majikthise" was supposed to be pronounced "Magic Thighs" until I heard the original radio play version of Hitchhiker's Guide, at which point I realized it was one of the world's only Pythagoras jokes.

> "I have dim childhood memories of a TV sketch comedy show called No Soap, Radio."

Octothorpe linked to the opening credits of it above; it wasn't a sketch show so much as a weird surrealistic comedy set in a hotel. I rather liked it, so of course it didn't last very long.
posted by kyrademon at 5:49 PM on July 28 [1 favorite]


The Douglas Adams HHGTTG joke between Ford and Arthur which goes along the lines of, "What's so bad about being drunk?" "Ask a glass of water." took me something like ten years to understand.
posted by cobaltnine at 6:12 PM on July 28 [17 favorites]


I have a friend from high school who was head over heels in love with a boy. We'd say to her, "for Pete's sake Michelle!" and she'd say, "I'll do anything for Pete's sake!"

I went to visit my sister in Poland when she was in the Peace Corps. One of her American friends there was engaged to a Polish man. Any time she could drop the phrase "taking a poll" into the conversation she would.

I grabbed a screenshot from an episode of Dexter where Dexter and his brother are standing in front of an image of a white house. Dexter is holding a pitchfork. It's a brilliant copy of American Gothic.
posted by bendy at 6:14 PM on July 28 [2 favorites]


There is a joke about rival colleges that you may have heard, it goes something like (change the school names if you like):

A Harvard student goes to the bathroom, and afterward washes his hands for several minutes, using lots of soap. "At Harvard, they teach us the importance of being thorough", he explains. Next an MIT student goes to the bathroom, and briefly washes his hands but with a flurry of activity. "At MIT, they teach us to be efficient!". A student at BC is the last to use the bathroom. He leaves without washing up. "At BC, they teach us not to piss on our hands!"

When I first heard this (20+ years ago), I understood it as taking down those snooty schools who don't know to keep the piss off their hands. For some reason it came back to mind recently, and I understood it the opposite way - as a dig at the third school, where they have to teach you not to piss on your hands. I really don't know which is the "correct" interpretation.
posted by Horselover Fat at 6:29 PM on July 28 [11 favorites]


having some sams and a janet in the family, i'm familiar with the song, but never knew it was the payload of a knock-knock joke: thanks!

not sure if all the shaggy dog stories ending in puns that pop used to tell are properly jokes. i cannot replicate the wind-up, but some of the endings include "slay it again, pam," "so he was arrested for transporting gulls across the state lion for illegal porpoises," and "i left my harp in sam frank's disco."

he also reveled in lawyer jokes. here's one:
A Doctor, an Engineer and a Lawyer, sipping bourbon and branch, argued over the historical primacy of their professions. The Doctor opined that medicine was the oldest, citing the surgical extraction of Adam’s rib and creation of Eve as recounted in Genesis. The Engineer replied, “Yet, one chapter earlier it describes the primordial act of creation as one of engineering: God formed the heavens and the earth from chaos—”

“Aha!” broke in the lawyer, triumphantly, “but who created chaos?”
also, i suspect sein & zeit is an elaborate, ironic series of pedantic puns totally obliterating philosophy and its would-be practitioners, the deadpan dadaist destruction of the possibility of ontology.
posted by 20 year lurk at 8:34 PM on July 28 [2 favorites]


we pass a baker's shop with a sign in the window that says "Fresh Bread Rolls".

I am unable to pass the sign WATCH BATTERIES 5.99 in our local weirdly decrepit mall without making a "I tried that once and it was even more boring than you'd think" joke.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:05 PM on July 28 [15 favorites]


a dig at the third school, where they have to teach you not to piss on your hands

For what it's worth, at my school we had a simpler version - "at xxxx we don't piss on our hands" - so I think that taking a dig at the smug Harvard hand-washers is probably the point of the joke.
posted by Umami Dearest at 11:40 PM on July 28 [4 favorites]


oh no. The elephant trunk penis joke just reminded me of this terrible terrible joke I didn't get.

It's a Spanish joke, which, translated:
Why are Mormon missionaries like eggs? Because they're white and come in pairs! For the longest time I thought: "huh, that's funny, eggs come in pairs" not realising that the EGGS (huevos) are TESTICLES.

It was terrible because I told it and was told "that's rude!" and didn't understand why!
posted by freethefeet at 3:42 AM on July 29 [3 favorites]


Knock knock

Come in! Door is open!
posted by loquacious at 4:10 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]


A German joke my French teacher at school told the class (as an example of German humour):
In der Metzgerei
In the butcher's shop

Customer: Excuse me! Do you sell straw hats?

Butcher: No, but if you come back next Tuesday, I'll be closed.
(Over the forty years or so since hearing it I might have got the headwear/day confused, but that was the gist.)
posted by Grangousier at 5:25 AM on July 29 [4 favorites]


POLISH
WAX

For the entire time I lived there I was always befuddled. You know? What is a Polish wax anyway?


I had a verbal one of these, I kept hearing people talk about Prague rock and wondering what was so special about music from that specific city.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 6:30 AM on July 29 [14 favorites]


Ok, so I get the 30 cows thing and no soap radio, but I'm still trying to figure out the wet weather jokes from Homo neanderthalensis and theora55...
posted by Grither at 6:42 AM on July 29 [3 favorites]


It was relatively recently -- in the last year or two, I'd guess -- that I realized why Reddit is called Reddit.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:12 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]


I always thought "K-12" was just a weird name/shorthand for elementary/junior/high school education until I've heard it spoken a couple weeks ago: "K through 12" and I was like ".....................oh."

(disclosure: I'm not American.)
posted by KTamas at 7:30 AM on July 29 [6 favorites]


There seems to be twice the humor in any given Terry Pratchett book if you read it aloud (as I do to my son at bedtime).
posted by Twicketface at 7:57 AM on July 29 [4 favorites]


I only recently learned that your "birthday suit" is what you were wearing on the literal day of your birth. Though if you end up attired that way on the anniversary of your birthday, that's probably a sign it's been a good day.
posted by capricorn at 8:47 AM on July 29


It was terrible because I told it and was told "that's rude!" and didn't understand why!

This is probably as good a chance as I'm ever going to have to get an answer for this; way long ago, I was talking about something innocuous at work that involved heating stones - I don't think it was about how they made clambakes, but think something equally as innocuous - in which I had to use the phrase "hot rocks". When I said that, my boss looked at me with complete shock and gasped, "did you just say 'hot rocks'?"

"Uh...yes, but...I didn't mean anything by that, other than....stones that are....warm."

My boss just blinked and said "I think we should stop having this conversation."

I was in my early 20s and a little sheltered, and he was a somewhat buttoned up guy who went super-Catholic later, and I have spent the ensuing nearly 30 years wondering what he thought I'd said because I know of no expression called "hot rocks", and if someone can enlighten me it will be a life mystery solved. (I have heard of the Rolling Stones album title, but don't know what it 'means', you know?)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:38 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]


hot rocks = a small piece of hash that has been burned and turned into a little cinder rock type thing that, if it gets on your clothes accidentally, will burn a small hole in them? That's the only mildly offensive connotation I know of?
posted by some loser at 10:49 AM on July 29


I'm going to guess that hot rocks are the rocks one gets off. But "how they made clambakes" also sounds mildly louche to me, so we should probably turn our dials in opposite directions.
posted by aws17576 at 12:26 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


Maybe he heard something other than "hot rocks"? I can't imagine what, though. "Hot cocks" would be the obvious misunderstanding, but the "stones that are warm" clarification should have put that to bed.

Anyway, my partner likes to watch episodes of Alone Together right before bed, just as part of her nightly routine. It's a show about these two millennial friends, Esther and Benji, where there's a running joke that everybody thinks they should fuck. And in my defence for totally missing this really obvious joke, I'm usually only half paying attention because she's got the show playing while I'm doing my own stuff and getting ready for bed.

So there's this one episode that opens with a scene where Benji's douchebag older brother calls him a "cuck", because Benji never stands up to anybody and usually backs down from confrontations.

The bulk of episode, though, is about Esther trying to claim a Bitcoin wallet that she forgot about back when BTC was nearly worthless that she wants to find and cash in now that it's worth a lot more. She wrote the password on the back of a picture of her then-boyfriend's grandma, so she has to come up with an excuse to get invited into his house to hook up, after which she can snoop around to get the password. So she goes over there alone, under the pretext of returning an old t-shirt. Benji, being encouraged by some of his other friends to stop backing down all the time and convinced that Esther's ex will really mad at her when he finds out the real reason for her visit, decides to head to the Esther's ex-boyfriend's place separately to make sure she's ok.

Esther's ex reveals to her that he broke up with her because she thought Benji was her boyfriend and that Esther was cheating on him. Esther denies this, obviously, but just then Benji shows up, intending to back her up. Esther's ex is convinced that this is proof that Benji really is her boyfriend. While talking him down, Esther reveals the real reason she's there. But her ex still won't let her get the password unless she proves that Benji isn't her boyfriend, by forcing Benji to watch while he and Esther make out.

I've seen this episode probably a dozen times before I finally got it.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:56 PM on July 29


"Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana." When I first read that, I thought it was just meant to be sort of dopey -- if you throw a banana, that's the way fruit will fly. About six months later, I was sitting in social studies class (this was very long ago) and realized that fruit flies (insects) like (enjoy eating) a banana (the banana stays the same). I cracked up in class, and had to explain to Mr. Steinfink what I was laughing about.
posted by LizardBreath at 1:13 PM on July 29 [12 favorites]


> Grither: Wet weather and skeeters- not a joke, just metatalktailing about my life. Guessing the same is true for h. neadnerthalis.
posted by theora55 at 1:19 PM on July 29


so...a cannibal passes his brother in the woods.
posted by supermedusa at 1:26 PM on July 29 [12 favorites]


I have a history of not getting the joke and there are several here that I either still don't get after they were explained or I *think* I get but the way they're told here makes me sure I'm missing the actual joke.

I have had the opposite of this happen to me so many times where I thought I heard a great joke only to have others tell me that was not a joke. The most recent one I can remember was watching the SNL Cowbell sketch at work (one person had never seen it) and I said my favorite part was "Fellas, you have got what appears to be a great sound." I thought it was a very well written and delivered line because sound doesn't 'appear.' I've been told by several people now that there is no way that was intended as a joke. I don't have any clue how that's not a better version of the "Listen...do you smell something?" joke (dear God I hope that one is actually a joke or I'm doing it again) from Ghostbusters.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 2:04 PM on July 29 [3 favorites]


I told this joke at a dinner party years ago..."How do you think the unthinkable?"

It got the normal groans, but it was clear mrs. allkindsoftime didn't get it, until a good 30 minutes later when she lost her shit laughing and we figured out why when she was able to wheeze out: "With an itheberg!!"
posted by allkindsoftime at 2:30 PM on July 29 [19 favorites]


(sorry, catching up after a weekend in Communicado ...it's a small village in southern France)

there's more to that chicken joke! There's the factual answer (to get to the other side of the street), but there's another one, too: The Other Side is another name for the afterlife. Meaning, the chicken's probably gonna die in the effort and end up in birdy heaven, possibly on purpose.

My favorite alternate punch line to the chicken joke is "Because it's too far to go around", which is both sensible and completely silly!

=========

My friend, as a tender young girl: “What did the elephant say to the man?”
All the adults in her life: “I don’t know. What did the elephant say to the man?”
Friend: “How do you eat with that thing?”
Adults: ??!!!!!


The version I heard was ""it's cute, but how do you breathe through that little thing?"
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:36 PM on July 29 [2 favorites]


so...a cannibal passes his brother in the woods.

That reminds me of a true story from many years ago: Once at a neighborhood potluck supper some of us were sitting in a circle with our paper plates precariously balanced on our laps, getting into an extended round of joke-telling. At one point one of the people finished up the last bite on his plate, said "So this termite walks into a bar and asks, 'Is the bartender here?'" Then without a further word he stood up and wandered off for a refill. The rest of us sat there silently pondering the un-joke for a good 5-10 seconds before all bursting into laughter at more or less the same time.* It was masterfully done and we all unanimously decided he had "won" the round.

*Is the bar tender here? A termite? Gettit? Hyuck!
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:49 PM on July 29 [3 favorites]


I have a history of not getting the joke and there are several here that I either still don't get after they were explained or I *think* I get but the way they're told here makes me sure I'm missing the actual joke.

I would hope that, if any thread were ever a safe space to admit that ask to have a joke explained to you, this would be it!
posted by tobascodagama at 3:08 PM on July 29 [2 favorites]


I would hope that, if any thread were ever a safe space to admit that ask to have a joke explained to you, this would be it!

I'd love someone to explain the joke about Esther and Benji. Like, *is* there a joke? I feel like I'm missing a vital piece of information.
posted by tzikeh at 4:41 PM on July 29 [3 favorites]


I went to visit my sister in Poland when she was in the Peace Corps. One of her American friends there was engaged to a Polish man. Any time she could drop the phrase "taking a poll" into the conversation she would.

My daughter's father was half Polish. A joke I think is hilarious but never seems to get enough love is this: whenever it comes up in conversation that someone is part Polish, I always like to say "I used to have a little Polish in me" and when they look quizzical I say "but then we got divorce."
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:55 PM on July 29 [4 favorites]


I first learned about the "No Soap, Radio!" bit from "Weird Al's Guide to the Grammys" which aired in 1986 when I was 2 years old, but was thoughtfully recorded on VHS by my family so I could appreciate it years later. It had a bunch of pretty funny bits in it, but one of the best was a couple of "Interviews" Al did with musicians like Prince where he spliced actual answers from a real interview with his own increasingly inane questions. One of these was Al telling this joke spliced with Prince cracking up, thus transforming the joke from "This is funny because it's not funny" to "This is funny because it's not funny but Prince thinks it's hilarious"

It did, in fact, take me a while to realize the joke was not meant to be inherently funny.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:53 PM on July 29


Patient: "Doc, you gotta help me. I'm deathly afraid of the Backstreet Boys."
Therapist: "Tell me why."
posted by WCityMike at 7:33 PM on July 29 [4 favorites]


LizardBreath "the banana stays the same" is now the funniest thing I have read in days. I am typing this through gasping tears of laughter. (It's been a long day, okay?)
posted by rhiannonstone at 7:36 PM on July 29 [5 favorites]


And the "POLISH WAX" makes me think of a joke I tried to tell in Cote d'Ivoire that fizzled so distressingly. Folks who didn't know me or folks who were talking to other people around me would call me La Blanche (the white lady). Cote d'Ivoire being a francophone country, all the stores ended in "isserie." You get your bread and pastries at the patisserie, stop at the charcuterie for your meat, etc. etc. And then there was a store that I eventually figured out was a laundry, called a "blanchisserie." I asked a friend if that was where you could go to buy new white ladies. He didn't think it was funny, but it still cracks me up every time I think about going to the Blanchisserie to check out what's in stock.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:40 PM on July 29 [4 favorites]


It was years before she realized she was telling a penis joke.

We are still waiting for our son to get this joke:
A pirate walks into the bar with a steering wheel in his pants. He asks for some rum. The bartender says, "Yes, but sir, do you realize you have a steering wheel in your pants?"
The pirate says, "Arr! It's driving me nuts!"

He’s been saying the punchline since he was two. He’s now eight and apparently learned that testicles are called nuts at school this year. And yet we still wait.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 7:56 PM on July 29 [14 favorites]


Q: What do you get when you cross an elephant and a wall?
A: A big hole in the wall.

— me, age 5, thinking that crossing animals meant that they sort of walked across each others’ paths or something.
posted by SakuraK at 11:32 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


What is a Polish wax anyway?

When I was young I saw the sign for the Polish Club for years and thought it was so odd.
posted by bongo_x at 2:15 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


I'd love someone to explain the joke about Esther and Benji.

I wasn't sure about that one either. Maybe it's that at the beginning of the episode his brother calls Benji a cuck because he never stands up to anybody, he decides he's going to not be like that so much and the result is that he ends up standing by and watching the girl he likes making out with someone else, like a cuckold, basically proving his brother right. (But it sounds like maybe they really are just good friends, so maybe he doesn't actually care that she's making out with someone else?)

Or is the joke that of course the ex believes Benji was never Esther's boyfriend but he figures he might as well get a make out session out of this? Or is there some other obvious joke that I'm somehow missing?
posted by Redstart at 5:07 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


I read the Hitchhiker's Guide too young I guess. And for years I didn't get why teleportation was unpleasantly like being drunk.

What's unpleasant about being drunk?
You ask a glass of water

I thought this was just an incomprehensible koan until my late teens at best.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 5:52 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


My mum used to drive past a couple of signs for businesses every day: TYRECITY and AUTOCITY. She wondered for months what tyrècity and autòcity were (some kinds of archaic virtue?), before finally realising they were advertising Tyre-City and Auto-City.

Many years ago, my partner and I read a science fiction novel that used “purplesky” and “bluesky” as time markers—like, “they were meeting the next morning at purplesky.”

I read them as purPLEHskee and BLUEskee for a long time before the penny dropped and I realized they weren’t just weird sci-fi words but were about the color of the sky at sunrise & sunset.
posted by Orlop at 6:44 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Maybe it's that at the beginning of the episode his brother calls Benji a cuck because he never stands up to anybody, he decides he's going to not be like that so much and the result is that he ends up standing by and watching the girl he likes making out with someone else, like a cuckold, basically proving his brother right. (But it sounds like maybe they really are just good friends, so maybe he doesn't actually care that she's making out with someone else?)

Yeah, the joke is in the irony that Benji's attempt to prove that he's not a "cuck" involves acting out the part of cuckold in a classic cuckold scenario. It took me a dozen viewings to spot the irony because Benji and Esther really are just good friends with no romantic interest in one another, so I didn't realise that's what the show was riffing on by setting up that situation.

(I should add that the actual punchline of the episode is not the makeout scene, it's that Esther's Bitcoin wallet is empty because she let her ex spend it on... the t-shirt she just was returning to him.)
posted by tobascodagama at 6:51 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


But "how they made clambakes" also sounds mildly louche to me, so we should probably turn our dials in opposite directions.

In that case I do literally mean stones that are warm, and literally mean clambakes. The old-school way to throw a clam bake in New England is:

1. Dig a big pit on the beach and line it with stones.
2. Build a big fire on top of the stones and let it burn until it's burned down to coals. This also heats up the stones.
3. Clear a space on top of the stones for the food, lay down a layer of seaweed and then lay the food on top; cover the whole thing with a tarp and wait an hour or so. The residual heat from the stones plus steam from the moisture in the seaweed is what cooks everything.

So, literally, hot rocks and clambakes.

I do know that I can get sheltered (one of my BFF's most enduring memories is of her having to explain to me why the lyrics of "Sledgehammer" were dirty when we were 16), but "hot rocks" is not an expression i'd ever heard was an expression.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:56 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Here's one that I tell that a lot of people don't get:

What's the difference between a chickpea and a garbanzo bean?
Trump didn't have a garbanzo bean on him.
posted by M-x shell at 7:25 AM on July 30 [11 favorites]


Ages ago I heard this joke on Prairie Home Companion:
Ya know how the boys are ice fishing these days? They take a bag of frozen peas with em out on the ice and they put a little circle of peas around the hole. Then they just sit and wait. When a fish comes out to take a pea, they grab him!
For decades I thought it was just a cute absurd joke about the adorable image of a fish coming up to eat some little round veggies.
posted by moonmilk at 7:25 AM on July 30


> Trump didn't have a garbanzo bean on him.

Trump doesn't pay to have a garbanzo bean in his mouth!
posted by loquacious at 8:17 AM on July 30


one of my BFF's most enduring memories is of her having to explain to me why the lyrics of "Sledgehammer" were dirty when we were 16

I'm a whole bunch older than 16 and never thought about those lyrics until right now. I'm usually a person who knows the lyrics to songs and tries to get the meaning of them but when they seem like nonsense I just let them be nonsense. I can hear now the not very well hidden theme in that song.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 8:23 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I was today years old when I learned Sledgehammer was dirty.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:51 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


LOL - one of the things that my BFF introduced her TED talk with was "promise me that you, at least for now, will think carefully before you ask a guy 'how's the hammer hanging'."

Although with "Sledgehammer" some of the naughty stuff is kinda buried in the lyrics, so here's a sample:

Show me round your fruit cage
'Cause I will be your honey bee
Open up your fruit cage
Where the fruit is as sweet as can be
I wanna be your sledgehammer...

--

I've been feeding the rhythm
I've been feeding the rhythm
It's what we're doing, doing
All day and night.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:34 AM on July 30


ask a guy 'how's the hammer hanging'.

The proper response to which (assuming both asker and recipient are friends and therefore no punches will be thrown) is, "Same way you left it!"
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:32 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Speaking of clambakes, I take great personal pleasure in deliberately mixing up the words "clambake" and "Klondike." I've been doing it so long that I have to stop and think which word I want if I want to say it correctly.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:41 PM on July 30


"What would you do for a Clambake bar?"
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:47 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]




"...to get to the other side."

Omg - almost 65 years old and I never associated "the other side" with its (now) obvious reference.

And this new info has ramifications re one of my favorite jokes.
Why did the raccoon (deer/possom/local frequent roadkill) cross the road?

To show the chicken how it's done.
posted by she's not there at 10:34 PM on July 30 [5 favorites]


My son suggested changing the original punchline to (stoner voice) "to get to the other side, maaaan", which preserves the ambiguity while also tipping the hand for slower-witted people like me.
posted by she's not there at 10:52 PM on July 30


In the butcher's shop

Customer: Excuse me! Do you sell straw hats?

Butcher: No, but if you come back next Tuesday, I'll be closed.


I cannot figure this one out. Is it simply the bait and switch of telling the customer to come back when the store isn't open? The unexpected ending?
posted by acidnova at 11:20 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


I was 7 years old when my brother pulled the, "how do you keep an idiot in suspense?" "I don't know," I dutifully responded. "I will tell you tomorrow." OK I thought to myself. The sun went down and came back up and I went running into his room and asked him, "How do you keep an idiot in suspense?" He laughed and said, "Tomorrow." I laughed too but it was about 10 years later I got it.
posted by AugustWest at 1:05 AM on July 31 [4 favorites]


Me either, acidnova.

Seems like the joke is that the butcher is basically telling the customer to fuck off and stop bothering him with nonsensical questions?
posted by doornoise at 12:48 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]


The saying, "You're not half as green as you're cabbage-looking", took me years to puzzle out.
posted by doornoise at 12:50 PM on July 31


And while I'm at it... I thought misled was pronounced MY-zld until scarily recently.
posted by doornoise at 12:52 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]


Apparently it's common for the spelling of "misled" to cause people to be mizzled into mispronouncing it.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:15 PM on July 31 [3 favorites]


Another "mice'lld" reader here.

When our kid was small he came up with this:

Q: Why did the rabbit cross the road?
A: Because the chicken was sick!
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 1:50 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]


Jphnny Wallflower, one of my high school teachers used to tell this one:

Why did the frog cross the road?
Because he was stapled to the chicken.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:40 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]


Butcher: No, but if you come back next Tuesday, I'll be closed.

I cannot figure this one out. Is it simply the bait and switch of telling the customer to come back when the store isn't open? The unexpected ending?


I took it to be an implied inversion of another joke, like

Customer: "I went to the butcher's to buy a straw hat the other day"
Friend Of Customer: "Oh really?...did you get one?"
Customer: "No, they were shut"

which...ok, seems unlikely, but it's the only way I can make it make sense.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 5:43 PM on July 31 [3 favorites]


My first take: The customer wants to buy a hat in a butcher's shop.
The butcher does not want to deal with someone who comes to a butcher's shop to buy a hat.
If the customer returns when the shop is closed, one of them will be satisfied.
(A man walks into a coffee shop and asks to buy a vacuum cleaner....)

But since Jon Mitchell's explanation makes more sense to me now, I think it's a meta-joke play, where the original is the friend and then the customer one-upping each other in wit, and the inversion is the joke teller one-upping the listener, by saying, I have heard your joke, and have changed it unexpectedly to demonstrate my superior wit. Or maybe: no soap, radio.

And until I read about the trope, I ended up with "No, sprayed you!" because clearly I overthink jokes when I don't get them and I pictured one elephant spraying the other as an alternative to soap.
posted by sillyman at 7:19 PM on July 31


Underpants Monster, I heard that the punk rocker was stapled to the chicken!
posted by Knowyournuts at 9:31 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]


1. The French teacher refused to explain it. He just gave it as an example of German humour.
2. I've always assumed it was a pun in its original form (of which the teacher gave a literal translation, obviously), but at the same time have never managed to find an German version that even worked that way.
3. Forty years of not getting the joke after hearing it. Is this a record?

My art teacher a few years later said he had a French joke - he was in the butcher's shop in France buying veal. "Ah!" he exclaimed, "La viand rose!" He said they all laughed, not so much because it was a good joke as that it was an Englishman trying to make a joke in French, which was adorable in a way, as if it were a small child playing at being a shopkeeper or a dog trying to drive a car.
posted by Grangousier at 7:31 AM on August 1 [4 favorites]


I think I get the butcher joke.

A: No, I don't have any hats but...
B: Yes?
A: ... if you come on Tuesday...
B [half hopefully]: yes???
A: I'll be closed. [proud of how helpful he has been]
posted by M. at 7:57 AM on August 1 [3 favorites]


people if you tell a joke on this thread which you're saying took you ages to get, then you have to explain it or I'm telling the mods on you goddammit
posted by MiraK at 8:42 AM on August 1 [14 favorites]


Last nights debate was sooooo boring!
How boring was it?
It was so boring; even Limbaugh couldn't get a laugh out of it.
posted by buzzman at 10:34 AM on August 1


Years ago, starting a new job, a friend was getting the orientation about where to file things, how to fill out various forms and so forth. They kept hearing about someone called 'Amanda Toryfield' who seemed to be involved in the minutia of many aspects of their tasks. (the manager kept explaining "this is Amanda Toryfield's...) Finally my friend got the nerve to ask about when they would meet this co-worker....

Reader, as you might have guessed from pronouncing that name out loud, my friend was actually being instructed on what parts of the various forms were imperative to fill out- the 'mandatory fields'.

... imagine trying to live that one down.. it still makes me laugh when I think about it.
I was a lurker on mefi even back then, and for a while thought that would be a great username.
posted by cabin fever at 10:52 AM on August 1 [12 favorites]


In a similar mondegreen vein:

For yeeeeeeeeeears I thought that the name of this business was pronounced "Chick Fill Ah", and that always struck me as odd.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:30 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]


In my defense I'm from New England and we didn't have Chik-fil-a where I grew up
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:50 AM on August 2


Me too, EC! I still pronounce it that way out of spite.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:32 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]


I used to have a mental list of the ones it took me decades to figure out. The only one coming to mind is Frigidaire which I sort of said as frigi dare... When it's fact it's clearly frigid air.

There was a guy who parked his car across the alley with the vanity license plate of 10SPLR. Took me years to figure it out. That put the duh in D'oh!
posted by y2karl at 1:52 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


My friend wants to know what you figured out the answer was?
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:11 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


That reminds of the joke on 30 Rock where Tracey Jordan complains about his wife calling his vanity license plate "inscrutable". His license plate reads "ICU81AMI", which is of course "hilarious".

The joke in this case is that his license plate is literally inscrutable. Seriously, it doesn't mean anything, please don't try to figure it out, because there's no actual joke there. And just to be even clearer: I'm not pretending that there's no joke as like a meta-layer of the joke, I'm being 100% sincere.
posted by tobascodagama at 4:51 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


10SPLR

Think Roman numerals.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 5:55 PM on August 2


Or not. I might be wrong.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 5:56 PM on August 2


My friend wants to know what you figured out the answer was?

Seriously ? If so, I feel relieved:

tennis player
posted by y2karl at 5:57 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]


DAMMIT.

Thanks, y2karl.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:08 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]


I mean, "DAMMIT" said my friend when I told him....
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:09 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


Great minds stink alike.
posted by y2karl at 6:10 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


It's especially galling because "10S NE1" is an old joke. Someday I'll brain good.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:10 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


My, um, friend thought it was XSPLR. X SPLoRe.

Sigh.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:59 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


I am positive there are other jokes and things I've been stymied by before that haven't come up yet, but honestly the only joke I can think of now is the following old RuPaul's Drag Race chestnut:

Q: How's your head?
A: Haven't had any complaints!

(I didn't understand it the first time I heard it, but I definitely got the joke before Miss Fame didn't in Season 7.)
posted by rather be jorting at 8:16 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]


Q: How's your head?
A: Haven't had any complaints!


That reminds me of a (less suggestive, sorry) story Jack Lemmon once told about Matthau hurting himself on a movie set:
Matthau and Lemmon were supposed to slide down a laundry chute, which had been rigged so that they would tumble out onto a platform cushioned with mattresses. But when Matthau rehearsed the stunt, he fell backward off the platform, crashing to the ground 20 feet below. Lemmon rushed to Matthau’s side, where he found his pal barely conscious and in terrible pain.

"Walter kept clutching his heart, saying, 'This is it, I'm gonna go,' and he meant it--he was in bad shape," Lemmon recalls. "So I very gently put my coat under his head, and I asked him, 'Walter, are you comfortable?'

"And without hesitation, he said, 'I make a living.' "
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:26 PM on August 2 [17 favorites]


Greg_Ace, aw... I have fond and very vague memories of watching daytime reruns of The Odd Couple whenever I was too sick to go to school as a kid, so that Matthau and Lemmon anecdote warmed my heart!

Speaking of vanity license plates, this doesn't involve a joke or pun, but one time I drove behind a car that had SNOOOPY instead of just SNOOPY on the license plate and I really liked the thought that someone was just that determined to get a Snoopy license plate after someone else took regular SNOOPY already.
posted by rather be jorting at 10:18 PM on August 2


I asked a woman behind the counter, “Excuse me, are you free?” She said, “No, I pretty much have to stay here.” It took me years to realize she was making a joke.
posted by dywypi


So I have a variation on this to report. It was October of 1988, driving east on Intestate 10 from Phoenix to Austin in a van full of 7 early career graduate students (several of whom would go on to stellar careers as scholars, but we were pretty dorky at the time), returning from a national conference, taking turns driving as we rolled across the desert. At around 2AM we stopped for gas in Ozona, Texas, which as anyone who knows the region can tell you is not optional, especially in a van at 2AM.

The door to the little convenience store where you had to prepay for the gas (no credit card pumps back then) was locked with a sign saying to knock for service, probably a wise policy at that hour. There’s not a another soul visible in the store or at the pumps, so we knock and this lanky west Texas teenager, looking half asleep, and wearing a heavy metal t-shirt looks us over and decides we aren’t a threat and lets us in. As we stand there paying him for the gas, one of the dorkiest of our group says, in a ponderous tone, sort of to the kid, sort of to the air, “I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live in a place like this.”

Kid does not miss a beat — surely he’s heard this before — and very softly replies “yeah... so have I.
posted by spitbull at 12:56 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]


I first heard "no soap, radio" from a friend at summer camp who couldn't wait until her accomplice got to camp to tell it to me. I immediately thought it was hilarious. We then argued about whether there was anything to get.

Two elephants are in a bathtub. (Absurd because even one elephant is much too big for a human-size bathtub, but ok, the premise is that they've somehow squeezed into a bathtub.)

One elephant says to the other, "Pass the soap." (Both elephants can use their trunks to reach anything in or around the tiny tub, so the other elephant must be using the only piece of soap, and it's rude of the asker to interrupt the other elephant's turn to wash...)

The other elephant says "no soap, radio." (I heard this as "there's no soap, I'm using a radio to wash myself." The elephant with the soap wants to keep using it, so he lies about what the blocky thing is that he's wiping his body with. Obviously, no one would use a radio to wash themselves because it doesn't clean anything, and worse, everyone in the tub could be electrocuted. Humans know that, but apparently the elephant thought this was a clever lie! And apparently the other elephant bought it! The joke seemed to me to be that we'll suspend the rules of reality to let these elephants fit in a bathtub, and let them talk, but the punchline reveals that they're still animals who might think a radio could substitute for a bar of soap.)
posted by Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming at 4:52 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


You pretty much have the room at a talking elephant.
posted by spitbull at 10:25 AM on August 3


I have fond and very vague memories of watching daytime reruns of The Odd Couple whenever I was too sick to go to school as a kid

I introduced my son to the sinus-clearing scene when he was a young teen, and we still occasionally crack each other up imitating the loud SFMUHH noise.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:24 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]


My currently learned joke is a knock knock:

Knock Knock

Who's there ?

Interrupting Cow.

Interrupted C -- MOO!!!

A joke for all ages, let me add...
posted by y2karl at 6:12 PM on August 3


Interrupting Cow.

Oh man, I once pulled off a glorious rendition of this joke with the Unexpected Cheddar my partner brought home from Trader Joe's.
posted by aws17576 at 12:25 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


I always follow up with Interrupting Cow With Poor Comic Timing.

Knock knock

Who's there?

Interrupting cow with poor comic timing

Interrupting cow with poor comic timing who?

...

...

...

MOO
posted by sugar and confetti at 5:37 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


When my kid was three he went through an interrupting [x] joke phase and my favorite one was the surrealist “interrupting couch” joke.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 6:23 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


I didn't get the following until a couple of years ago, probably about 60 years after I first heard it (I have no memory of the first time).

"This little piggy went to market..."

i always pictured a little piggy in a bonnet carrying a shopping basket, not a pig about to be BUTCHERED because who would think THAT while playing with a baby's toes.
posted by she's not there at 2:14 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


I....think that "carrying a shopping basket" is the meaning, though? Because of the rest of the rhyme discusses piggies eating roast beef and stuff.

(At least that is what I am choosing to believe let me live in my world)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:59 PM on August 4 [5 favorites]


ChuraChura: "He didn't think it was funny, but it still cracks me up every time I think about going to the Blanchisserie to check out what's in stock."
I make similar gags about Bridal Shops and Adult Stores.
posted by Mutant Lobsters from Riverhead at 6:31 PM on August 4


I have literally just this second when contemplating buying a notebook for a new job got the pun in Filofax.
posted by billiebee at 8:45 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos, please do not read the next sentence—I, too, would love to live in your world, but can't because someone pointed out the following to me.


"This little piggy went to market...", not "This little piggy went to the market..." .
posted by she's not there at 10:33 PM on August 6


"Going to market" is how people said it in ye olden days. That syntax wasn't reserved for goods to be sold.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:02 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Hopefully, I will be able to erase my vision of a little piggy being sent to the butcher before I have grandchildren...
posted by she's not there at 4:23 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


A little bit off,

but her emails

is a fear of

buttery males.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:17 PM on August 7


I first heard this at 7 or 8, and it took me until embarrassingly long to get this:

Which dog has more legs, one dog or no dog? No dog, because no dog has five legs.

I would sputter in bewilderment, "But no dog has five legs!! How can that be the answer??"

I mean, I spent whole summer afternoons at 9 and 10 having mini existential neurolinguistic meltdowns over this "joke".

Ah, childhood.
posted by riverlife at 10:22 AM on August 9 [10 favorites]


How many surrealists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

The Fish.
—————
How many lead guitarists?

12. One to screw it in and 11 to say they could have done it better.
posted by spitbull at 2:27 PM on August 13


This one drive me crazy when I was a kid.

How do you get down from an elephant?
You don't. You get down from a duck.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:40 PM on August 13 [4 favorites]


How many Soviet collectivist farm workers?

A hundred: One to change the light bulb, 99 to sing the song in praise of the brave young lightbulb changer.
posted by Grangousier at 4:51 PM on August 16 [1 favorite]


How many mice does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

Two.
posted by hypnogogue at 1:55 PM on August 26 [1 favorite]


We used to tell a variation on that one:

Q. How many [insert demographic group] does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A. Same number as it takes out of one.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:26 PM on August 26


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