Here’s a joke obviously not created by a strictly Chinese sense of humour:
Four national stereotypes are on a train or a bus or something. There's a Japanese guy, an American, a Han Chinese, and a Tibetan. The Japanese guy listens to his mp3 player for a while until the song he likes is over, then he throws the mp3 player out the window. "What'd you do that for?" the multilingual community asks. He says "In Japan we have so many of these things it's easier to throw them out and get a new one than to put new songs on the old one." The American is one of that noble dying breed, the smoker. He pulls out a pack of fancy American coffin nails, lights one cigarette and throws the rest of the pack out the window. "Why'd you do that?" they ask and he says "In America we've got so many cigarettes it's easier to throw them out and get fresh ones than to try to preserve any one pack." If you've ever heard a joke before you know what the Tibetan guy then did.
Holly told that joke to Jo and Wang Wei. Predictably, they didn’t laugh. She says she was just testing it out on the coolest Chinese people she knew and won’t do it again. She totally will.
Phil told us a joke he’d heard in China:
How many steps does it take for an elephant to open the refrigerator? One to open the door. One to grab the milk. And one to close the door.
Yes, that’s the joke. Holly made a slanderous remark about it being in league with the muffin joke.
Supposedly there are a bunch of Ant & Elephant jokes and Holly told me one but I don’t remember it. One thing I liked about the Long March book I read was how happily crude so many of the old interviewees were. All talking about farting and pissing and having a good laugh about wetting your pants in terror. Not so funny the woman whose period froze her pantleg in Tibet so sharp it cut her leg open in her sleep.
The rapes weren’t so funny either. Nor the murderous Tibetans. The Long Marchers were attacked ruthlessly by the people whose food they were supplying themselves with. The Tibetans had one growing season and had to live on what they stored. Then in marches this communist army. They left money and IOUs in the fields but that wouldn’t be much good to eat in the short term. So the Tibetans picked off stragglers and hung up their skinned bodies. They were barbarians protecting their yaks and their land. The temples were supply houses and the monks shot the hell out of the armies from inside.
I always think of the poor peaceful Tibetans, not the violently resisting Tibetans. It’s no wonder the Chinese wanted to subjugate the place. And out west, all the inhospitable places made for hard inhospitable people especially towards people coming in to change everything. In the poorest lands how do you agitate against the rich landowner? All so relative.
Here’s another joke. This one’s Chinese but I like it.
Son, father and grandfather are out chopping wood. Grandpa's doing it all wrong (too many splinters maybe? too slow?) and Dad gets mad at him and starts yelling about what a lousy woodchopper the old man is. "You couldn't chop a plank in two in the middle of a bandsaw thunderstorm" or something. What? I'm a master of wood-chopping metaphors all of a sudden? So the son decides to stick up for granddad and yells at Dad. "How dare you disrespect your father like that you horrible thoughtless man!?"
Now if the listener didn’t quite get it you summarize the punchline as “So he was disrespecting his father!” And everyone laughs. Or at least Scott and I laugh. While Em rolls her eyes and starts up another dinosaur song. Oh the life we used to lead. The Tibetan joke Holly told is at least making fun of the people with all the power, not picking on the little guy.emily holly jo jokes long march phil scott the hangman tibet wang wei