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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 has gone to subscriber only after a 30-track trial period: ARGH.
mood: silly
music: Sugarbomb—Hello


*cringe* I have to admit that I don't get the knock-knock joke you posted. (running away to hide in shame)

A joke my Mom always used to tell is: If all the cars in America were pink what would America be called?...The pink carnation. Bwahahaha

One that made me laugh years ago: What does "Tickle-Me-Elmo" get before leaving the factory?...Two test tickles. hardy har har

I think they eat um up? Though to be honest, after I realized I was sidetracked by the word mop at first (it's the dutch word for joke - so it was fitting in the context, just not in the "knock knock" sentence) and reread the whole thing in English (and out loud), it still did not really make sense to me =)


I think everyone knows those "Bellman" type of jokes, though in my (dutch) case they would prolly have a belg in there instead of Bellman ;-) Also those "lightbulb" and "a man walks into a bar" are very wellknown here. Don't think I know any "dead baby" jokes though, nor "no arms, no legs" ones - do I need enlightment?

Re: /giggles

What do you call a guy with no arms and no legs floating in a pool?...Bob.

What do you call a guy with no arms and no legs laying on the doorstep?...Matt.

etc. hehe

There were cycles of jokes like that in Sweden too, for instance the "nationality jokes" (there was one Swede, one Norwegian and a Brit...), later, in the early 90's the blonde jokes came to Sweden as well, and in the later 90's there was a huge trend of "alla barnen" -jokes (alla barnen stampar i marken utom Katrin, för det var hennes kanin), some of them quite funny (maybe not the one I remembered here, but there were hundreds of them).

Thanks! I'll have to look those up, and ask my kids, too. :)

ooh, i miss the "lille olle" jokes! you should see if you can find them somewhere. they're in the style of "why is lille olle sitting in the corner grinning from ear to ear? he's been playing harmonica with a razorblade." somehow that sounds way funnier in swedish... also, it's a plus if you have a brother named olle. :)

All I could find was song that the same Lille Olle?

Well, I'm a sucker for good old interrupting cow:

Who's there?
Interrupting cow.
Interrupting co- {MOO!}

We love that one, too! Do you know interrupting starfish?

Who's there?
Interrupting starfish.
Interrupting sta- (stick your hand on their face)


Another kind I heard in school were those word puns that are not even funny. Honestly I only remember two:

En hund satt på en sten. Vad hette hunden.

Några hästar var ute och betade. De var på ängen.

The first one certainly is possible to translate, but not the second one without clever rewriting.

I don't think there are so many one liner jokes in Swedish. Our jokes tend to be a bit longer, more intricate. Perhaps it is due to the traits of always striving to be precise and clear. A joke should be told in such way that everyone are able to get it.

A friend of mine told me jokes like those when I was a kid. They can be incredibly funny if you're tired enough.

Our favourite then:
Två fåglar satt i ett träd. Plötsligt kom en noshörning flygande och landade i trädet bredvid. Den ena fågeln sa: Han bor nog där.

Yeah - you have to be very, very tired ...

Yes - Alla Barnen-jokes were big when I was a kid. As were the Bellman-jokes.

I'm intrigued by the dead bay jokes - can you give an example?

Isabel's favourite at the moment is (wokrs equally well in English):

What did Tarzan say when he saw the Elephants come over the mountains?
"Oh look! Here come the elephants over the mountains."
What did Tarzan say when he saw the elephants come over the mountains wearing dark shades?
Nothing - he didn't recognize them.

How can you tell you have elephants in your fridge?
There are footprints in the butter.

Why is it dangerous to enter the jungle at midday?
Because the elephants are practicing their parachuting (sp?)
Do you know why crocodiles are so flat?
They enter the jungle at midday.

The elephant jokes are hilarious, I love them!

You can google dead baby jokes but beware: incredibly insensitive and politically incorrect!!

Maybe I'm not maturing at the usual rate, but the Helen Keller jokes are STILL my favorites, though I only know three:

Q: What did Helen Keller's parents do to punish her?
A: Rearrange the furniture!

Q: Why was Helen Keller's dog suicidal?
A: You would be too if your name were "Aarghunghnah!"

Q: What did Helen Keller yell when she fell off a cliff?
A: ::frantic hand gestures::

Horribly politically incorrect and culturally insensitive... but they still make me laugh every time.

Yeah, the day my wife decided I was going to hell was the day I had the epiphany that Helen Keller was actually a balding Wookiee.


Another one that might not work in Sweden, but it used to be one of my favorites... :-)

Russell: Hey Liz, I've got a knock-knock joke for you.
Liz: Alright.
Russell: Ok, you start it.
Liz: Knock knock.
Russell: Who's there?

Oh yes, I love that one too!

What do you call a sleepwalking nun?
A Roamin' Catholic


I giggle everytime David tells this joke.

What do you do with a dead chemist?

Hee hee!

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