CAN YOU GUESS THIS IDIOMATIC EXPRESSION?
What’s so funny about this? OK, this little joke might possible by considered dirty or at least slightly tarnished because it contains a couple of small sexual innuendos. An innuendo is a remark or statement that is about one topic but there is a hint that it could also be about a different topic. That other topic is often sexual, but not necessarily so. It can be about any knowledge or information that the listeners or readers share. Sexual topics and language is just one of those things that are frequently used in innuendos. Ostensibly, or on the surface, this is a joke about a crustacean, or shellfish called a shrimp. These are very tasty creatures and of course they’re not fish at all but they do live in the sea. You can see from the photo how good they look all cooked up. But this joke is about one particular shrimp who had a special dream, desire, or aspiration to be a big prawn star on the net. Why a big one? Well, for starters shrimp is also slang for someone who’s quite small. Larger people, usually older big boys, will taunt smaller, young ones by called them “shrimp”. The sexual innuendo is that it can also refer to a small penis. The implication is that a small guy or shrimp will also have a small penis. In British English they don’t say shrimp at all. The same animal is known as a prawn, with no additional connotation of size. However “prawn” could be a pun for “porn”, short for pornography which means writing or images of a sexual nature, designed to arouse the viewer or reader. A “porn” star is the main actor in a pornographic movie. So the joke could be about a little guy who wants to star in porno movies on the net, meaning internet, or it could also be the mesh nets used to catch shrimp or prawns. Take your pick. And THAT’s what’s so funny!
This pun was created by Owen McMahon, aka Irish Limbo
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Origin: Mid-18th Century, British English ‒ Theatrical productions have always needed devices that produce the sound of thunder, such as shaking sheets of tin. In the 17th century, playwright John Dennis invented a new method of creating the sound of thunder for his play, Appius and Virginia. However, we don’t know what his new device was. Alas, the play was a flop. Sometime later, Dennis attended a performance of Macbeth, a noticed that they were using his new thunder creation method. He was angry and is supposed to have said, “Damn them! They will not let my play run, but they steal my thunder
Usage: Informal, spoken and, general, British and American English.
Idiomatic Meaning: Taking someone’s thoughts or ideas and using them to your own advantage. Ruin a surprise.
Literal Meaning: There are many myths of lightning and thunder being used by gods as weapons to torment humans. To steal thunder is to take it away from the being or person it belongs to.
Why is this funny? The caption to the photo is “It was supposed to by my light show, but you swiped my sound.” It’s not clear who is talking. It could be Thor, the German god of thunder and lightning, for all we know. It’s obvious that the speaker is not happy, because now the show consists only of lightning without sound. The thief ruined the whole effect. Thus, he “Stole his thunder” when he stole his thunder”!
Sample sentence: When you told my wife about the surprise birthday party for her, you completely “stole my thunder.”
SANE CHAW / CHAIN SAW
What’s so funny about this? I realize I’m breaking my own rule against two of the same kind of jokes in a row, but I can’t help myself. I’m addicted to spoonerisms and this one’s been on my mind since yesterday’s joke. Today’s joke only has one cultural/ dialect issue of which you need to be aware in order to get the joke. It’s a very retro term for chewing tobacco. The term is “chaw”. When I was a kid, I watched baseball players from all teams, do a lot of spitting. They spat at bat, they spat on the bench, they spat in the field. And just what was it they were spitting? Why tobacco juice, of course. When you chew tobacco, which is as addictive as cigarettes, if not more, you don’t swallow it. Instead you have to keep a wad of tobacco in your mouth and the act of chewing will produce a lot of saliva which you have to spit out because you don’t want to swallow that either. Baseball players weren’t the only chewers around. I watched a lot of cowboy movies and they were always chewing and spitting there too. In fact, my father had an antique brass spittoon in our house. This was a shiny round brass receptacle, designed for people to spit in, hence the name “spittoon.” A lot of famous and not so famous people chewed tobacco and a lot of them got cancer of the lip or mouth. It’s pretty vile stuff, but the tobacco companies weren’t talking about that. Some chewing tobaccos were flavored too. I guess it’s not the tobacco that drove you crazy, but rather not having enough available is what will make an addict nuts. Regardless, half of today’s spoonerism is SANE CHAW. “Chaw” is just an old slang expression meaning a plug or a bit of tobacco to chew. “Sane” is just the opposite of “insane”. If you spoonerize the two words, you get CHAIN SAW. This is a wonderful labor saving device with which you can cut down trees, cut firewood and other large wooden objects. Some people even use it to sculpt wood and shape it into statues. Of course, if you go insane, perhaps from chewing tobacco, you could also use a chain saw to cut up yourself or someone you don’t like very much. It happened in Texas and there have been many horror movies about it, as a result. And THAT’s what’s so funny or disgusting!
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LOCKS AND BAGEL
What’s so funny about this? This is a kind of sophisticated spoonerism. First of all, you have to know who Houdini was - the photo itself won’t really tell you. Secondly, you need to know what a “rain check” is. Without this information, you don’t stand a chance. Let’s start with Houdini. He was a world famous magician and escape artist who lived in the early part of the 20th Century. He was so famous that his very name has become a generic term for “magician.” He was most famous for his escapes and he claimed that there wasn’t a lock made that he couldn’t pick, or open, without a key. They buried him in a coffin in the ground and wrapped the coffin in locks and chains. The photo you see here is Houdini before he was lowered into a glass tank full of water. In all these cases, not only did he have to break free and wreck his chains, but he had to do so fast enough not to drown or suffocate. But this is a spoonerism after all so let’s look at the words involved. “Chain wreck” I’m sure you can figure out. If you spoonerize it, you get. “rain check”. Here’s a good explanation of the origins of the term: The literal sense of rain check, which is an Americanism, was first found in the 1880s in reference to a baseball game. The practice of giving a rain check to a ticketholder was formalized in 1890 in the constitution of the National League. In other words, if it rained (something the purchaser had no influence over) and the game was postponed, the ticket holder could come back for another game, by showing the ticket stub. Over time, “rain check” has come to mean any postponement to a future undetermined date. So why did Houdini postpone his escape? Maybe he was just hungry and needed fresh lox for his bagel? And THAT’s what’s so funny!
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BOID IS DA WOID
DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE THIRSTY BIRD WHO HELPED A COW BY EATING INSECTS STINGING THE COW’S SKIN?
What’s so funny about this? I hope there aren’t too many biologists or zoologists or even bird watchers out there who are going to tell me that the bird in the photo is not a tern. I’ll grant you that, it isn’t a tern. In fact I’m not sure what species it is. All I know is that it has a symbiotic relationship with African cattle. These cows really do depend on these birds to eat the ticks and other insects off of their hides, or skins. However, for the purposes of this joke, we’re going to pretend it is a tern, a bird normally found at the seashore and beaches, smaller than a seagull but living the same kind of life. It’s doubtful an actual tern has ever seen a cow unless someone decided to take the herd to the beach. I guess it must have happened once or twice in history. Anyway, we’re calling the bird in question a tern because the word is a homophone of t-u-r-n. Usually this word is a verb meaning to change direction while moving or perhaps to rotate. However a “turn” can be noun too, meaning an act of good will or kindness. This is a very old meaning that has mostly disappeared except in this expression. The expression itself is. “One good turn deserves another.” In other words, if someone does something nice for you, you do something nice for them. In the case of the tern bird and the cow, the bird ate the bugs and we know the bird is thirsty so the cow is offering her udder to the tern. I have a feeling it might pinch a bit but one good tern deserves an udder, and THAT’s what’s so funny!
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THE YOLKS ON YOU
Everyone in the Basque village gathered at the local restaurant with the revolving door for the annual Egg Festival. The waitress entered the dining room with a large basket of eggs to be broken and fried. Suddenly a giant rat leapt out of the basket, frightening the Basques. They all ran to the revolving door and got stuck trying to get out at the same time. What is the moral of this story?
What’s so funny about this? Here we go with another shaggy dog/pun story. I originally came across the joke in a book I’m reading and later discovered that, not surprisingly, there are many versions of the joke, though all have the same punch line. In most versions the Basques are trapped in a burning restaurant or theater or some big public place with only one door. As you can imagine, they don’t survive. There are plenty of real life stories of night club fires and the like, with gruesome endings and I didn’t think that was necessary for the joke to work. After all a shaggy dog story can really be of any length and topic as long as it eventually gets you to the punch line, so why be morbid? That’s why I changed the story and also made it about eggs. You’ll note that the picture also has a basket of eggs. This is actually a kind of spoonerism that may be difficult to catch because of the spellings, so I thought a little visual help was in order. There is, of course the famous proverb, saying, expression, etc. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” If we spoonerize “eggs” and “basket” and alter the spelling some, we get “Don’t put all your Basques in one exit.” Since the restaurant in the joke only had one exit, a revolving door, I got all the restaurant patrons piled on top of each other in the one exit. And THAT’s what’s so funny!
I read this old joke in the book “Accordion Crimes” by Annie Proulx
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SLATHER IT ON
WHERE DO YOU TAKE A SICK SANDWICH?
What’s so funny about this? “Sick” is one of those words with both general and slang meanings. The word goes back to Old English and Old German before that making it well over a thousand years old. It can mean ill, diseased, feeble, weak; corrupt; sad, troubled, and deeply affected. In slang the meanings are similar. You can have a sick joke meaning it comes from a sick or crazy mind. But in current slang “sick” can be a good thing too in that it’s so bad it’s good. If something is abnormally great the abnormal stuff gets the “sick” connotation. But, a sick sandwich? Even for a super flexible word like “sick”, that’s a stretch, especially if it’s not the slang usage of “wonderful”. Can a sandwich have feelings? Only in cartoons, where anything can come to life and get a smiley or grumpy face and grow arms and legs and move around. This sounds a lot like Toon Town in the movie “Roger Rabbit”. So for the sake of the riddle, let’s say the answer is yes, the sandwich is feeling ill and needs to be treated. A clinic can also have several meanings, but in this case it’s a medical facility. The Mayo Clinic is a world famous hospital for medical research and treatment. Sounds like the perfect place to take a sick sandwich. But an even better reason is that mayo is short for “mayonnaise”, a mixture of egg yolk, oil, vinegar and seasoning. In the US and UK it’s a very popular spread to put on any sandwich. It peps it up, makes it less dry and adds a lot of taste. It’s the perfect antidote for a sick sandwich and a sick joke like this. And THAT’s what’s so funny!
This pun came from David R Yale (@bestpuns) on Twitter
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