26 Hilarious Jokes That Need No Explanation*

*But that are nonetheless explained in unnecessary length by experts on the subjects.

Start thinking like a knocked over display of soup cans at the supermarket, folks, because these jokes are going to leave you rolling in the aisles!  Get it?  GET IT?


1.  Where do those aquatic mammals that float on their backs come from?  Otter space.

Ah, yes.  This is an excellent piece of ribaldry that rests on the slant homophones, “outer” and “otter.”  “Outer space” is the vacuum of space that exists between celestial bodies, while “Otters” are semiaquatic mammals.  By replacing “Outer” with “Otter,” one retains the mental correlation of “Outer space,” and the humorous image of a galactic origin for the carnivorous mammals is created simultaneously.  It’s a big bang of comedy, as it were.  But is it really only a joke?  After all, we are all simply made up of star-stuff, and God is only the sum of all the physical laws that govern the universe, so who’s to say that otters didn’t come from outer space?  Or “Otter” space, for that matter.  I think that we may accept the fact that they did, for we have no evidence disproving this theory.  I think otters are probably alien beings, only they’ve been here so long, and they’re made of star-stuff from a godless universe just like us, so we recognize them as inherently terrestrial.  And in them, we see ourselves.  We are all star-stuff, riding the celestial tides, cracking crabs on our tummies using rocks. — Carl Sagan, Astronomer and Astrophysicist, former host of the Television program, “Cosmos.”  

2.  What do you call a fish with no eye?  Fsh.

The success of this joke depends entirely upon the fact that both the ocular organ and the ninth letter of the alphabet are homophones in the English language.  A fish with no “eye” would be blind, but a fish with no “I” would be “Fsh.”  It is a clever play on our expectations, especially if you are an Ichthyologist.  — Milton Trautman, author of The Fishes of Ohio and Punny Surname Heritor. 

3.  Where does a general keep his armies?  In his sleevies.

I keep mine in the barracks, and I feed them just enough to keep them healthy.  For example, at breakfast, I give my soldiers one egg each.  Because in France, one egg is un œuf.  — Napoleon Bonaparte, Failed French General, Starver of Armies.

4.  Why did the scarecrow get a promotion at work?  He was outstanding in his field.

Ah, yes.  In the context of the promotion, “outstanding” here is an adjective meaning superlative or exceptionally good, while “field” refers to a particular branch of study or interest.  So the scarecrow is exceptionally good at his particular employment.  But — and here’s where the humor comes in — we must recall that this gentleman is, indeed, a scarecrow.  And where are scarecrows usually found?  That’s right: in fields (the agricultural sort, of course).  And if you separate the word “outstanding” into two words, you get “out” and “standing.”  So, you see, the scarecrow was outstanding in his field, while he was also out standing in his field.  The story of the promotion is easily understood, but when you add the contextual marker of the scarecrow, you find that the joke contains a hidden meaning, one that, in my estimation, is quite humorous, especially once you return to your original understanding of the phrase “outstanding in his field.”  Oh, I’m tickled pink just thinking about it.  — Earl L. Butz, Secretary of Agriculture, 1971 – 1976.

5.  I asked my dog if he knew who Pavlov was.  He said, “I’m not sure, but it rings a bell.”

You may have heard of “Pavlov’s Dog,” but what you may not know is what “Pavlov’s Dog” is.  You see, Ivan Pavlov (1849 – 1936) was a Russian physiologist famous for his research and experimentation regarding the gastric function of canine subjects, particularly in relation to what he described as “psychic secretion.”  He found that by creating external stimuli in contextual circumstances, he could stimulate dogs’ salivary glands externally.  Pavlov would signal the arrival of the dogs’ food with the ringing of a bell.  Once the canines were conditioned to this, Pavlov discovered that even without the presence of food, the bell would trigger the salivary glands of the animals, as they had come to associate the ringing of a bell with the presence of food.  Now, to the second part of the joke.  The phrase “It rings a bell” is a colloquial idiom that means “it triggers a memory.”  Now, here’s where it gets really interesting.  The phrase is said to be a reference to — you guessed it — Pavlov’s famous experiments!  In the above joke, the humor comes from the use of the colloquialism (“It rings a bell”) to refer to perhaps the greatest and most famous bell-ringer in history!  And the fact that it’s a dog saying it only adds to the humor, because, if you’ll recall, Pavlov experimented on dogs.  Also, a talking dog!  Oh, goodness.  The merriment.  — Cesar Millan, the “Dog Whisperer” and Bell Enthusiast

6.  Two goldfish are in their tank.  One turns to the other and asks, “You have any idea how to drive this thing?”

A tank is both the term for the encasement that holds animals and their habitats, as well as a term for a military vehicle that entered into modern warfare during the First World War.  We believe, based on the first sentence, that the goldfish are in an aquarium tank, as would be their wont.  When one goldfish asks the other about manning the “tank,” we understand that they are actually in a military tank.  This is where the humor comes from.  The two words sound the same, but have different meanings.  Also, why would goldfish be in a military tank?  The controls are complicated and I doubt they could properly maneuver the vehicle.  I would feel much safer with a trained commander at the helm. — Colonel Powell, former Secretary of State and Commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command.  From his autobiography, It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership.

7.  What do vegetarian zombies eat?  Graaaaains.

This joke rests on the fact that the zombie as we know it today (not the Haitian zonbi) hungers for human brains as sustenance, and furthermore, that they chant “Braaains” as they pursue their victims.  This concept does not appear in the first major studio picture of the contemporary zombie genre, George A. Romero’s The Night of the LivingDead, but it does appear in the 1985 The Return of the Living Dead.  Younger readers may be more familiar with a “Treehouse of Horror” episode of The Simpsons lampooning Night of the Living Dead, titled, “Dial ‘Z’ For Zombies.”  This episode furthered the concept of zombies vocalizing their lust for brains for a more mainstream audience.  In the above joke, the zombies are vegetarian, and thus, would not eat brains.  But they would eat something that rhymes with “brains,” such as “grains.”  I think the joke might also work if you used “brans” as the punch line.  But that’s just me.  — Rob Zombie, Musician and Not An Actual Zombie

8.  What’s brown and sticky?  A stick.

Did you think it was poo?  I thought it was poo. — Jacob Stevenson, Third Grader, Little League Pitcher and Part-Time Belly Itcher.

9.  What’s brown and sounds like a bell?  Duuuuung.

Ah, I see what they did here.  “Dung” is the noise a bell would make, and “dung” is another word for excrement, which is often brown.  So “Dung” would be brown, and it sounds like a bell.  I get it.  — Cesar Millan (again), Bell Enthusiast, Wordsmith.

10.  How did the hipster burn his tongue?  He drank his coffee before it was cool.

Ugh.  2013 called.  They want their joke back.  And yes, I know that that’s a dated “Seinfeld” reference.  I was using it ironically.  — Some fucking hipster, Creepy Mustache Grower and Home Brewing Entrepreneur.

11.  If a tree falls in the woods, and it doesn’t make a sound, does a hipster buy the soundtrack?

I saw them live like, two years ago, before they sold out. — Some other fucking hipster, Mason Jar Repurposer and Completely Un-Ironic Knitter.

12.  A man goes to the doctor’s office with a carrot shoved up his nose, and a drumstick in his ear.  The doctor says, “I see the problem.  You’re not eating properly.”

There may be some confusion here, because we don’t know what the patient is going to the doctor for.  Although I think it is safe to assume the foodstuffs lodged in his orifices may be the cause of his distress.  We also do not know anything about the sort of clinic the doctor works at, or if he is perhaps a gastroenterologist, or perhaps, given the patient’s clogged ear and nose, an otolaryngologist.  And the doctor does not even examine the patient, so how can we trust his diagnosis that the patient isn’t eating prop — oh wait I get it now.  He’s “not eating properly.”  Like, he’s not putting food in his mouth, he’s putting it other places.  Ah.  That’s funny.  I get it. … Is he having any problems in the bedroom? — Doctor Mehmet Oz, Television Personality, Practitioner of Quackery.

13.  Why is Peter Pan always flying?  Because he Never-Lands.  [Follow-up: I like that joke because it never gets old.]

Here’s the joke.  Neverland is the place where Peter Pan and the Lost Boys reside.  So if Peter never lands, he is always flying.  But “never land” is also a play on Neverland.  Or maybe Neverland was originally meant as a sort of joke about Peter’s constant aeronautics.  The follow-up joke is a reference to the fact that Peter is a puer aeternis, an eternal child, the sort of which was described by Jung in his writings on archetypes.  I find this joke troubling because it suggests that Peter is emotionally, physiologically, psychologically, and mentally retarded in relation to others his “age.”  He may be hundreds of years old, but he acts and behaves like someone a fraction of his age.  I’m worried that this behavior may lead to destructive consequences for others, especially if he is able to convince them to join him in Neverland.  Side note: I’m sure you’re thinking that there’s a Michael Jackson joke in here somewhere, but I won’t take it there.  The man was a treasured artist.  — Marie-Louise von Franz, Jungian Scholar and Psychologist, Adult.

14.  Two drums and a cymbal fell off a cliff.  Ba-dum tsss.

Oh, like a rimshot!  Get it?  Like, if two drums and a cymbal fell off a cliff, in that order, they’d hit the ground and it would go, like, “ba-dum, tsss,” which is the sound a rimshot, which is that thing that drummers do when someone makes a joke.  And this is a joke, so there’s a rimshot.  Ah.  I like it.  — Cesar Millan, Bell Enthusiast and Amateur Drummer

15.  A frog walks into a bank and walks up to the teller — one Ms. Patricia Black.  “I would like a $50,000 loan,” he says.  Patricia Black says, “I’m sorry, sir, but we would need some collateral for a loan of that size.”  The frog produces a small porcelain figurine of a dog, and asks, “Will this do?  It’s a family heirloom.”  Patricia tells the frog that she would need something more significant, but the frog is insistent.  Patricia calls her boss over and explains the situation.  After assessing the situation, the bank manager says, “It’s a knick-knack Patty Black.  Give the frog a loan.”

Is that supposed to be like “Knick knack paddy-whack give the dog a bone?”  Because I did a way better “bone” joke with Old Mother Hubbard.  OHHHH!!  — Andrew Dice Clay, Kind of a Comedian?  Maybe?

16.  Why was Cinderella so bad at soccer?  Because her coach was a pumpkin and she ran away from the ball.

Homophones!  No, that’s not a telephone that rails against heteronormative discourse (see what I did there?).  You see, a “coach” for Cinderella would be her mode of transportation, which her Fairy Godmother magicked from a pumpkin, transforming it into an elegant carriage; the “ball” in question was the Royal Ball, which she hastily departed from before the magic spell placed upon her by her Fairy Godmother dissipated.  In soccer, as with most sports, you have a “coach,” someone who guides the team, and you also have a ball, the spherical object players use to score points.  So the joke here is that, in utilizing terms that relate both to Cinderella as well as soccer, we are presented with a comical picture of a gourd leading a soccer team, and Cinderella avoiding the actual sports ball.  This is a liminal space in which both the concept of the soccer game and the concept of magic are allowed to exist in diametric relation to each other.  Cinderella herself becomes a Baudrillardian third-order simulacrum as she is both fairy tale character and soccer failure.  I wonder if her glass slippers made it hard to play soccer?  I would imagine so!  — Francis Lorch, Professor of Children’s Literature Studies, University of Phoenix extension program.

17.  Why did the math book go to therapy?  It had a lot of problems.

Mental illness and suffering is not a joke.  — Anonymous (Name withheld based on doctor-patient confidentiality)

18.  What happened to the butcher who backed into his meat grinder?  He got a little behind in his work.

I mean, I get the joke.  Like, “a little behind” means he had some catching up to do on his work, and since he backed into the meat grinder, it also means he got “a little [bit of his] behind” literally in his work (since he’s a butcher, his “work” is basically “meat”).  So yeah, I get it.  But at the same time, I can’t help but think, that sounds tasty.  — Jeffrey Dahmer, Foodie.

19.  What do you call a dog with no legs?  Doesn’t matter, he’s not coming anyway.

I understand what is happening in this joke, but animal cruelty isn’t a laughing matter.  Hi, I’m Sarah McLachlan.  Every hour an animal is beaten or abused.  That means in the time you’ve been reading this, an animal has undoubtedly been violently abused.  And you did nothing to stop it.  You sleep for eight hours a night?  That’s eight animals you’ve basically beaten with your own hands, because that’s eight hours you could have spent rescuing animals from their abusers.  Call or join online in the next thirty minutes, and we’ll send you photos of abused animals every day, plus this beautiful tote bag, to carry those horrific pictures in.  — Sarah McLachlan, Ruiner of Your Day and General Downer.

20.  Why did Sally fall off the swing?  She had no arms.

This is mean.  Who let her get on the swing anyway?  I mean, it’s not as bad as abused animals, but still… — Sarah McLachlan, Former Musician, Current Expert at Getting All Up In Your Sense of Guilt and Making You Be Like “Oh, I Should Really Help Out,” But Let’s Be Honest, You’re Not Gonna Do Anything, So Just Go Back To Watching The Amazing Race and Forget You Ever Saw That Commercial.

21.  Knock knock. / Who’s There? / Not Sally

Is this the same Sally from the above joke?  Now you’re just being insensitive. — Sarah McLachlan, Mezzo-Soprano and Seriously? Stop Bumming Me Out, Sarah McLachlan and if it’s so goddamn important to you WHY DON’T YOU JUST GIVE THEM YOUR MONEY SARAH BECAUSE I JUST DEFAULTED ON MY CREDIT CARD BILL FOR THE THIRD GODDAMN TIME AND I’M SO MAD I WANT TO PUNCH THAT PUPPY YOU’RE HOLDING.  I WANT TO PUNCH IT RIGHT IN ITS STUPID FACEOh, Amazing Race is back on.  Awesome.

22.  What did Hitler tie his shoelaces into?  Little knot-zis.

Incorrect.  I wore checkered Vans slip-ons.  I don’t like tying my own shoes.  I actually never learned.  So because I couldn’t tie my own shoes, the only solution was to buy slip-ons.  I guess you could say it was my final solution. — Adolf Hitler, 1990s Skateboarder and President of the “Reel Big Fish” Fan Club.

23.  Why did the mermaid wear seashells?  Because she grew out of her B-shells.

Not so “little” any more, is she?  Heh heh heh.  — Creepy Guy Hanging Out At Disneyland Without Any Kids Of His Own.

24.  Why can’t you hear a pterodactyl go to the bathroom?  Because the “P” is silent.

This joke is funny because “P” as a letter has the same sound as “pee,” which here is the verb meaning “to urinate.”  So because when you pronounce “Pterodactyl,” you do not say the “P,” it follows that you would not hear a pterodactyl urinate.  Of course, that’s not scientifically accurate.  What IS scientifically accurate — and I know this because I totally researched it and asked a buddy of mine who knows about DNA and stuff — is that frog DNA is, like, 99% similar to dinosaur DNA.  So maybe we should find a mosquito preserved in amber, pull the dinosaur blood out of it, throw in some frog DNA, and BAM: Baby pterodactyl. Then we’ll see if its pee really is silent.  Real science aside, I think this joke is kind of funny.  — Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park and Congo.  

25.  Why was Six afraid of Seven?  Because Seven is a registered Six offender.

Hello, Seven.  Have a seat.  Do you know who I am?  I’m Chris Hansen from Dateline NBC.  Would you like a cookie?  I have to ask: what were you thinking coming here?  You knew it was a Six, right?  … Well, I have the whole transcript of your conversation right here.  Do you mind if I read you some of it?  You asked, “Have you ever Eight someone out?”, “Do you wanna Sixty-Nine?”, and “Will you talk Thirty to me?”.  Yes, you did say that, the records don’t lie.  What do you have to say for yourself?  — Chris Hansen, Television Personality and Hunter of Invisible Dreadlocked Aliens.

26.  Mickey Mouse was in divorce court.  The judge says, “So, Mr. Mouse.  I see here you want to get a divorce from your wife because she’s crazy?”  Mickey says, “No, your honor.  I think you misunderstood me.  What I said was, ‘She’s fuckin’ Goofy.'”

[Unintelligible] — Donald Duck, Half-Naked Naval Officer and Part-Time Nazi.


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