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Jokes and Math Questions


It took me a long time growing up before I fully understood what jokes were all about. Maybe it’s because I just never got them or because the people I grew up with were really crummy joke tellers. I’m pretty sure the person who told me the “man walks into a bar” joke told it to me like this:

Him: Hey, wanna hear a funny joke?
(See, right away after hearing that it was a funny joke and not a dull one, it set the stage in my mind that I should have expected to hold the sides of my shirt in to keep them from ripping open from my sidesplitting laughter.)
Me: OK.
Him: [grins](Because the joke teller could barely contain himself, I also expected that I was in for a real doozy. That I might even have considered taking a few deep breaths first in case the joke made me laugh so hard I could barely breathe.)
Him: A man walks into a bar.
Me: …
Him: Get it??
Me: …
Him: Get it??
Me: […] Oh yeah…! Ha! Ha! Sure is a good one.
(But I never really did get it).

It wasn’t until the sixth grade that someone finally told me a joke that I actually liked. I liked it because the set up for the joke could be made longer or shorter depending on your style, and you could change it up when re-telling it so that you were never actually telling the same joke more than once. At eleven I also fancied it to be very clever, which made me, the joke teller, to be very clever as well.

When someone first told me the joke and the subsequent punchline, I felt slightly ashamed that I hadn’t known the punchline, that I hadn’t caught on to it fast enough. I had been tested for entrance into GATE that year after all, and if being invited to test into the Gifted and Talented Education program at school doesn’t mean you know what’s up, I don’t know what does. But after feeling ashamed that I hadn’t been clever enough, I ran home to tell the joke to my brother, then my mom, then my dad. And before they could even think about the punchline, I dropped it on them, shaming them for not knowing it as I had been shamed earlier that afternoon. Except looking back, I don’t think my parents were fully listening to me and my brother said it was stupid. But I know he was just saying that to spite me because I had questioned his cleverness.

The joke goes like this:
There was a blue woman who had blue hair, blue skin, blue teeth and blue nails and who wore a blue dress, a blue bonnet, a blue petticoat, blue shoes, blue stockings and a blue comb in her blue hair. She lived in a one story blue house with blue wooden floors, blue shag carpets, blue sinks, blue showers, blue mirrors, a blue kitchen, blue french doors, a blue tub, a blue pantry, a blue foyer, a blue bed, a blue desk, a blue closet, a blue garden, and a blue patio. What color were the stairs?
[pause for dramatic effect]There are no stairs! It’s a one-story house!

I thought about this joke today while studying. I thought about how much I used to love it and how spoiled it is for me now that it reminds me of a stupid GMAT math question.

Last modified: January 10, 2019