Monday 21 March 2016

Knock, knock!

Here's a French 'knock knock' joke I'd like to share with you:

- Toc, toc!
- Qui est là??
- Los
- Los … qui?
- Oui c'est ça!

The cream of the jest resides in the last person to speak frisking his/her imaginary pockets in search of the 'los qui'. (Pause). Lost key? (Long pause).


Nobody likes knock knock jokes, apart from all children, who love them.  According to the often-reliable Wikipedia the form of the joke - its DNA if you will - can be traced back to a children's game first noted in 1929, which went like this:

- Knock, knock!
- Who's there?
- Buff.
- What says Buff?
- Buff says Buff to all his men, And I say Buff to you again.

(This reminds me of the let-down final line of most Edward lear limericks which, as you'll recall, are slight variants on the first line and rarely hilarious.)

Five years later the more familiar format had emerged and was a staple of newspaper columns in the US:

- Knock, knock!
- Who's there?
- Rufus.
- Rufus who?
- Rufus the most important part of your house.

The form became so familiar that it could be parodied, or at least held up as an example of an inconsequential popular craze. Fred Allen's radio broadcast on 12 December 1936 included a humorous round-up of the year's least important events, including a fictitious interview with "Ramrod Dank... the first man to coin a Knock Knock." (Fred Allen, I discovered yesterday, died on the day my parents were married. Just Goes To Show.)

Finally (and again thanks to Wikipedia)

In 2010 a letter from a steward (thought to be Jim Richardson) on the Nahlin steam yacht was discovered. The 16-page letter to his mother detailed life on the yacht during a 1936 Mediterranean cruise on which King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson were passengers. The steward repeated a popular joke of the time:

- Knock, knock!
- Who's there?
- Edward Rex.
- Edward Rex who?
- Edward wrecks the Coronation.

Speaking of children and jokes - is there anything funnier on the internet than this? I don't think so.

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