Thursday, June 17, 2010

Funny is what's lost in translation?

One of my favorite things, right up there with whiskers on kittens, is to take well-known pun-based jokes and paraphrase them so the pun and therefore the humor is lost. I always find the paraphrased versions funnier than the originals. I don't know why I have this sick compulsion. It's interesting, in light of the whole translation question ("Poetry is what's lost in translation"). Jokes often don't translate. So why are these so funny to me? Obviously, it's dependent on my knowing how they're supposed to go (though even if I didn't, I could probably figure it out). Anyway here are a couple. (If you haven't heard these can you guess the real joke?)

Q: What did the Buddhist say to the hot dog vendor?
A: Do you have Tofu Pups?

Q: How is light beer like making love in a canoe?
A: It's fucking practically water!

Now that I think about it this basically works on the same principle as the Back to the Future line "Why don't you make like a tree and get out of here."

Can you think of any more of these?

28 comments:

  1. Q. Why couldn't anyone find the Austrian composer?

    A. Because he was Franz Joseph Haydn.

    This would be really funny if the answer was just "Haydn" which sounds like "hiding." Ha ha.

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  2. Ha! Even funnier if you don't know how to pronounce Hadyn, which I didn't.

    Resisting the urge to make up an insensitive joke about Beethoven.

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  3. Q. Why did Bach have seven children?

    A. His organ had no stops.

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  4. A: They didn't have condoms back then.

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  5. I think the ideal punchline for the Buddhist/hot dog vendor joke would be something like "Make me a hot dog with all of your fixings, and also allow me a transcendental state of being in which I am one with the universe."

    How about this:

    "Pete and Repeat were sitting in a boat. Pete fell out. Who was left?"

    "Repeat."

    "Yes. However, I will ask the question again in order to annoy you."

    Also works for Knock-knock/banana.

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  6. Or even just "Yes. That's correct."

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  7. Indeed. I had that typed at first and then second-guessed myself.

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  8. I love comedy, but I can't tell a joke to save my life. I can write them. Maybe.

    I love the fucking practically water one.

    I just think it's hilarious messing up the tempo of a joke in general.

    "A woman is caught stealing a can of peaches. When taken to trial, she asks for leniency, claiming that there were only 6 measly peaches in her can. The judge says "In that case, I will give you a week in jail for each stolen item. So 6 peaches, 6 weeks." Before the judge can hit the gavel, the woman's husband yells from the back of the court "Hold on! Seeing now the manner in which you give judgement, I think it is worth mentioning that my wife had stolen many more cans of food with much greater numbers of items within them. Peas, for instance."

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  9. I suck at telling jokes too. I'm good at being spontaneously funny though.

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  10. i think elisa's hot dog punchline is the best, because it makes no attempt to have anything to do with buddhism. the non sequiturness of it is what's funny.

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  11. Well Buddhists are vegetarians, right? Or did I make that up?

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  12. oh...i don't know what tofu is, so that didn't register. (but actually not all buddhists are vegetarians. if i remember correctly, i read that the buddha himself ate meat.)

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  13. Hm. I could change it to Jainist, and really kill all semblance of humor.

    You really don't know what tofu is? How did you make it to the 21st century without that knowledge? It's a protein derived from soybeans.

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  14. i don't think it's very big where i come from. (although soybeans are huge where i come from.)

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  15. It's fine for what it is. However, it doesn't paraphrase the pun-based joke, which was the point of the post and the other jokes/lines mentioned.

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  16. You're right, it's not a paraphrase, but it falls into a larger category I should have identified -- "missing the point." It's funny to me because it misses the point, the point being the pun.

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  17. I wasn't questioning your choice, by the way.

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  18. And I missed the pun thing. I have a new one.

    How do you catch a polar bear? You need a can of peas and a saw. First, you cut a hole in the ice, and place a line of peas around the hole. When a bear comes to eat a pea, you kick it in the frozen opening.

    Man, that makes no sense. The real joke is like a favorite of my dad's though

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  19. What's with you and peas?! And what's the real joke?!

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  20. When the bear goes to take a pea, kick him in the icehole.

    My grandmother did to jokes what you like to do, but without self-awareness. Her modified punchline for the bear joke was, if I recall correctly, "Wait for the bear to go out on the ice, then hit him over the head with a big stick."

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  21. Elisa, my entire internet presence is working towards promoting a canned pea anthology entitled "You're In Trouble - The Problem With Peas"

    Steven, did she love telling jokes? It seems like the worse a person is at telling jokes, the more they like to tell them.

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  22. Q: Why was Batman running in a big hurry?

    A: He had to go to the restroom.

    *

    Q: How many oil company executives does it take to change a light bulb?

    A: Three, including everything.

    *

    Two penguins are sitting on an ice floe. One penguin turns to the other and says, "You look like you're wearing a tuxedo." And the other penguin says, "Why do you say that?"

    *

    A guy walks into a psychiatrist's office, and says, "Doctor, my brother's crazy, he thinks he's a chicken." And the doctor says, "Well, why don't you turn him in?" And the guy says, "He fixes breakfast for me."

    *

    Two women are sitting in a restaurant. One of the women says, "You know, the food in this place is terrible." And the other woman says, "Yes, and it's overpriced."

    *

    A farmer was working in the farmyard on a hot day. After a while he stopped to rest for a minute, and thinking out loud he said, to no one in particular, "Well, it sure is a hot one today."

    And nearby his dog said, "Yeah, it's scorcher, all right."

    The farmer pulled up short at this. "Well now, I've been a farmer for more than 40 years, and I never once knew that dogs could talk!"

    And over by the barn a cow said, "Cows can talk too."

    *

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  23. Those are gold.

    Along the same lines: A man walks into a psychiatrist's office, totally naked but wrapped in cellophane. The doctor takes one look at him and says, "You're evidently insane."

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  24. why did the chicken cross the road?

    to get to the other side.

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  25. What is the real A to this Q? How many oil company executives does it take to change a light bulb?

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  26. @Kathleen Rooney:
    Actually, I just made up the one about how many oil company executives it takes to change a light bulb, and didn't bother to think of a "real" punchline. (Seriously.) I have no idea what the "real" punchline is. But there must be one out there.

    @Elisa (and whoever else):
    On a maybe related topic, something I enjoy doing now and then is making up punchlines without jokes.

    Couple of examples:

    And the fisherman said, "Just four so far, but the night's still young."

    *

    "That's nothing -- you should see the one that flew in here last night."

    *

    "That's funny, I don't remember ordering a sardine pizza."

    *

    And the bartender said, "Okay, fine, but you gotta bring your own liverwurst."

    *

    And the nurse said, "Yes, Doctor, the patient's doing fine -- only now he's asking for birdseed."

    *

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  27. hey how bout a reverse new yorker cartoon contest where you pose the punchline and you gotta draw the pic

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