Created By: archie on July 24, 2012 Last Edited By: abk0100 on July 31, 2012

Emancipated Punchline

A punchline to an old joke that's become an aphorism of its own.

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Do We Have This? If not, Up for Grabs.

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.

Examples:

  • 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,"
    "Rectum."
    "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."
Community Feedback Replies: 22
  • July 24, 2012
    robinjohnson
    Hmmmm. I've never heard any of those examples (except But You Screw One Goat, which I don't think is ever used as a proverb by itself.) I could name some that I might think qualify, but I suspect a lot of other tropers would never have heard them, either.
  • July 24, 2012
    NimmerStill
    I don't know about jokes, but I know formerly self-explanatory sayings get clipped, such as "six of one", "long time first time", "if I had a nickel", "there but for the grace of God", "Hell hath no fury"
  • July 24, 2012
    Waterlily
    Today people generally use the term "Every little bit helps" literally but it actually comes from a very old joke that says "Every little bit helps said the ant as he pissed in the ocean."
  • July 24, 2012
    abk0100
    Not quite the punchline, but it probably counts,

    the phrase "800 lb. gorilla," or sometimes "800 lb. gorilla in the room," comes from the joke, "Where does an 800 lb. gorilla sleep?" "Anywhere it wants to."
  • July 24, 2012
    Bisected8
    "...so I said 'that's no X, that's my wife!'" has become so common that using a different variation of X has become a joke in of itself.
  • July 24, 2012
    SquirrelGuy
    "Iceberg, Goldberg, Steinberg, same thing" Sometimes used when words or concepts are similar enough that they are mixed up. The joke, in a nutshell: Jewish guy punches Chinese guy for bombing Pearl Harbor. "But the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor". "Japanese, Chinese, all the same thing" Chinese guy then punches Jewish guy for sinking the Titanic. "But an iceberg sunk the Titanic." The above punchline.
  • July 24, 2012
    NimmerStill
    This is evolving into simply the worst kind of joke thread.
  • July 24, 2012
    Omeganian
    Some Russian examples:

    "Russia is the homeland of elephants" "and you are lynching blacks" "prove you're not a camel" "Hussars, silence!" "Doctor said "to the morgue" so to the morgue it is"
  • July 25, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    related to Nimmer Still's comment:

    There's a bit in Anchorman that plays on this. Veronica uses the phrase "when in Rome!" but Ron has never heard it before. She has to add "do as the Romans do" and correct him several times when he misuses it.

    Maybe we should focus on ideas from fiction? If we can't find enough of what OP is talking about, maybe they should just make a Hungarian Humour page? We have a Russian one, it could be really interesting?
  • July 25, 2012
    Astaroth
    "Rectum? Damn near killed him!"
  • July 25, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    "What do you mean WE, Kemosabe?"

  • July 25, 2012
    abk0100
    ^What joke did that come from?
  • July 25, 2012
    SquirrelGuy
    ^^I heard it as "What do you mean WE, white man?" The Lone Ranger's sidekick and trusted friend was a Native American named Tonto. The joke is, one day the two of them were ambushed by a group of Indians. The Lone Ranger says to Tonto that it looks like we are in trouble. Tonto replied with the above punchline.
  • July 25, 2012
    Tiiba
  • July 25, 2012
    surgoshan
    Blanker? I hardly know 'er!
  • July 25, 2012
    FalconPain
    Does "sour grapes" qualify? The Fox and the Grapes doesn't specify their perceived quality until the final line.
  • July 25, 2012
    elwoz
    "As the actress said to the bishop": so long on its own that nobody knows what the original joke was.
  • July 25, 2012
    Chabal2
    A variant on the "fuck you and your lawnmower" relying on knowing the standard ending, where the neighbor has a retort for the line all ready, confounding the angry borrower. In one case, it's "My ass isn't a garage", when the original punchline was "You can take your lawnmower and shove it up your ass!"
  • July 25, 2012
    Shnakepup
    Simply saying "...The Aristocrats" is beginning to become this. People will dryly say this after describing some long, complex situation.
  • July 25, 2012
    archie
    @Omeganian: Can you post the original jokes as well?
  • July 25, 2012
    Omeganian
    "Russia is the homeland of elephants" - Several variations, usually about several countries presenting their books about elephants (parodied the Soviet tendency of attributing all inventions to their own people).

    "And you are lynching blacks" - Radio Yerevan is asked by an American some question like "Can a Soviet worker buy a good car with his salary?" After a long pause, the sentence above is given.

    "Prove you're not a camel" A man is running in fear, and when asked about the reason, answers "they are hunting (shoeing/castrating) camels." "What are you worried about?" "If they'll catch me, how can I prove I'm not a camel?"

    "Hussars, silence!" and "Doctor said "to the morgue" so to the morgue it is" are given here
  • July 31, 2012
    robinjohnson
    I very much doubt that "every little bit helps" comes from that one-liner about the ant, because the one-liner about the ant makes no sense unless you're already familiar with the phrase "every little bit helps".
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