zird is the word (lizardek) wrote,
zird is the word

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At book group the other night, we got on the subject of jokes and how they spread. Some of the joke trends that I remember most fondly from my own childhood are not a part of the Swedish culture at all, and introducing them to my children, especially to Martin who has the same sense of humor as I do and loves puns, has been fun for me. Elephant jokes and Why did the chicken cross the road jokes and the cannibal jokes we made up a few weeks ago: all very entertaining to the both of us. I get almost as much joy out of telling these jokes and watching Martin's face and hearing his reaction as he does out of hearing them for the first time. We went through knock-knock jokes awhile back and he recently told me that the kids in his class just don't get them.

Don't get them? Isn't that sad? How deprived! Especially when the latest one, which I read on a blog somewhere, made us giggle for AGES (because Martin is 11 and I, apparently, am not much older): Knock Knock! Who's there? I eat mop! (you need to say this one out loud to really appreciate it)

Anyway, I recently introduced Martin to "no arms, no legs" jokes, which elicited some major eye-rolling, and at book group the other night, I brought up the subject, asking the other women who were there if any of THEM remembered "no arms, no legs" jokes from their younger days. The response was enthusiastic on the part of several of them, and one woman and I got into a spirited discussion about the "sets" of jokes we remember floating around our friends and schoolmates. We knew all the same references: "Helen Keller jokes," I said. "A man walks into a bar" jokes, said someone else. "Dead baby jokes!" she exclaimed, "and Blonde jokes." And lightbulb (how many people, etc.) jokes! Then she got this really surprised look on her face and said, "And I was in CANADA! And you were in Alabama and Belgium and wherever else you were, and this was BEFORE THE INTERNET."

A bit of quick keyboard research gave me some interesting information. These types of joke sets are called cycles: a collection of jokes with a particular theme or setup. The basic premise of any of these kinds of jokes isn't very funny, especially if you just hear one of them, but after about 4 or 5 of them you catch yourself laughing. And when you were 11 or 12 they were hilarious (although I remember being mostly shocked by the dead baby jokes). But here in Sweden, they're even less funny: no one knows who Helen Keller is, for instance.

They must have similar trends even in Sweden, besides the horrible Bellman jokes Martin was delivering to Anders' amusement awhile back.

Got an old favorite? (Martin and) I would love to hear it!


Also, just noticed that last.fm has gone to subscriber only after a 30-track trial period: ARGH.
Tags: martinbean, sillybutt!

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