Emancipated Punchline YKTTW Discussion

Emancipated Punchline
A punchline to an old joke that's become an aphorism of its own.
(permanent link) added: 2012-07-24 12:42:50 sponsor: archie edited by: abk0100 (last reply: 2012-07-31 01:29:41)

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Most classic jokes are popular because they're so relatable, like modern-day parables. These jokes are seldom actually told; people just quote the punchline, safely assuming that all those around them will get the reference. Eventually, these punchlines can grow into full-fledged aphorisms, to the point where younger generations grow up knowing the punchline, but oblivious to the original joke (or the very fact that there was a joke to begin with). It's like an Orphaned Punchline all grown up.

This trope is very culture-dependent, for obvious reasons.

Edit: It's not just aphorisms, but any frequently quoted phrase that comes from a joke.


  • On this very wiki: But You Screw One Goat!, No True Scotsman.
  • Simply saying "...The Aristocrats" is beginning to become this. People will dryly say this after describing some long, complex situation.
  • Every little bit helps: Today people generally use the phrase literally but it actually comes from a very old joke,
    "Every little bit helps," said the ant as he pissed in the ocean.
  • 800 lb. gorilla (in the room):
    "Where does an 800 lb. gorilla sleep?"
    "Anywhere it wants to."
  • Iceberg, Goldberg, Steinberg, same thing: used when words or concepts are similar enough that they are mixed up.
    A Jewish guy punches a Chinese guy for bombing Pearl Harbor.
    "But the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor."
    "Japanese, Chinese, all the same thing."
    The Chinese guy punches the Jewish guy for sinking the Titanic.
    "But an iceberg sunk the Titanic..."
  • Sour grapes. The Fox and the Grapes doesn't specify their perceived quality until the final line.
  • ____ him? Damn near killed him!
    Little Johnnie's teacher asks him how his weekend was.
    "Horribly, a car hit my dog in the ass,"
    "Wrecked him? Damn near killed him!"
  • Some Hungarian examples:
    • Kill the neighbor's cow: a farmer wakes up one day to find his precious cow dead, a fairy appears before him and grants him one wish -- to which he replies as quoted. This line is used to describe petty and/or spiteful people who can't stand to see others happy.
    • Fuck you and your lawnmower: Another farmer wants to mow his lawn, but his lawnmower breaks, so he decides to borrow one from his friend. On the way over, he begins to doubt whether his friend would be willing to lend him one; he becomes increasingly negative, to the point where upon reaching the friend's house, he just says the line above and leaves. Quoted when warning people not to demonize others in their mind.
    • Because he is/isn't wearing a hat: Quoted to describe a situation where someone abuses their power and gives a bullshit excuse for it.
      The wolf and the fox decide to beat up the rabbit -- either because he's wearing a hat (if he is), or because he isn't (if he isn't). The next day, they decide to ask the rabbit for a cigarette, and beat him up if he offers a filtered or an unfiltered one. However, when they go up and ask him, the rabbit asks back whether they'd like filtered or unfiltered.
      After some hesitation, the wolf mutters, "He's wearing a hat again."
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