Irish or other Ethnic joke or humor in multi-cultural America — it’s a mine field. Worse, though, a lot of ethnic humor just isn’t funny. Poking fun at stereotypes is not really much of a challenge. In fact, there are formulae for such jokes. This one, for instance, comes from the Comedy Research Project in the UK:
A person belonging to an ethnic group whose members are commonly considered to have certain stereotypical mannerisms met another person belonging to a different ethnic group with a different set of imputed stereotypical mannerisms. The first person acted in a manner consistent with the stereotypes associated with his ethnic group, and proceeded to make a remark which might be considered to establish conclusively his membership in that group, whereupon his companion proceeded to make a remark with a double meaning, the first meaning of which could be interpreted to indicate his agreement with his companion, but the other meaning of which serves to corroborate his membership in his particular ethnic group. The first person took offense at his remark, and reacted in a stereotypical way!
Oh, you’ve heard that one.
Well, here are a few Irish jokes that don’t make fun of them being stupid (because they aren’t any thicker than the average Homo sapiens — but that isn’t much of a hurdle to be sure), nor are they all drunks (they just don’t pretend as much as others, and in fact, they drink more tea per capita than anyone else on the planet).
An Irishman was riding in a train carriage with an Englishman, an older woman and a supermodel. The train entered the tunnel, the carriage went dark, and there was the sound of someone getting slapped hard and repeatedly. When the train left the tunnel and the sun shone through the windows, everyone could see the hand marks on the Englishman’s face. The old woman thought, “He must have tried something with the supermodel and she slapped him. Good for her.” The supermodel thought, “He must have tried something with the old woman thinking it was me and she slapped him. Good for her.” And the Irishman thought, “That was fun, I can’t wait for the next tunnel.”
It’s Coleen’s wedding night and as she and her new husband, Michael, are getting undressed, he holds out his trousers and says, “Put these on.” She isn’t sure she understands, but he repeats, “try putting these on.” So she steps into his pants and they are much too big. “They don’t fit,” she tells him. “That’s right, woman. I wear the pants in this family,” he tells her. She is quiet for a moment and then hands him her panties. “OK, you try these on.” He hesitates, but she insists. “Try them on.” So he does, and the big strapping fellow that he is, they won’t go beyond his knees. “Having trouble?” she asks. “I can’t get into your panties,” he confesses. “That’s right, at least until you change your attitude.”
A salesman from Dublin was driving along a country road and ran out of gas. He saw a farmhouse just up the lane, and he made his way toward it. As he approached the house, he saw a pig with a wooden rear leg. The farmer came out of the house and the salesman said, “I was hoping you might have some petrol to sell.” The farmer said, “I can spare a few liters,” and he went into his barn to get a jerrican of gas. As the two walked to the car to fill the tank, they chatted about this and that. Upon reaching the car, the salesman said, “You know, I have to ask about the pig with the wooden leg.” The farmer said, “Oh, that’s Seamus. He’s an amazing pig. One day, I was taking a nap on the couch and I had my cigarette in my hand. Well, what with one thing and another, the room caught fire. Seamus broke into the house, came into the front room, dragged me out of the house and saved my life.” The salesman stood in wonder for a moment and then said, “That doesn’t explain the wooden leg.” The farmer answered, “An amazing pig like that, you don’t eat him all at once.”
There was once a frog who lived in a pond in Ireland. His pond was dated and scruffy-looking, so he hopped down to the bank and sat down to see the loan officer about a home improvement loan. “Well,” began the banker who was named Patrick J. Whack, “we normally don’t loan to frogs, but if you had some sort of collateral, we’d do the business for you.” The frog thought for a moment and said, “What do you mean collateral?” “Oh you know, anything of value that we could hold as security. If you don’t pay, we’d be able to sell the collateral off to recover some of our loss. Maybe you have a bit of jewelry, or a rare painting?” The frog hopped off to the pond to have a look around, and he found a small elephant made of ivory at the bottom of the pond. He put it on his back and hopped back to the bank. The frog met with Mr. Whack again, who said, “I don’t know. I’ll have to ask the branch manager.” He stepped away for a moment, and returned with another man. “You see, sir, it’s a frog who wants some money to fix up his pond. He’s brought us this ivory elephant, and I don’t know if this meets our standards.” The branch manager said, “Oh, Jaysus. It’s a knickknack, Paddy Whack, give the frog a loan.”
Old Father O’Malley was preparing to retire and hand over his parish to a newbie just out of seminary. After a few weeks, the old man decided to let the kid deliver the homily on Sunday. The kid worked day after day on the sermon, and Sunday morning as they dressed in the vestry, the old man could tell he was nervous. “I’ll let you in on a little secret,” he confided. “You know that glass of water I have by me during the homily? Well, it’s really gin. It calms me nerves. Here, take this glass out with you.” So the young priest takes the glass of gin and sets it by his notes. After the service, the young priest was very interested to hear what the old priest thought. “Well, son, I just have two things to say. First, go a bit easy on the gin next time. And second, David slew Goliath, he didn’t bust a cap in the motherfucker’s arse.”
For me, though, this is the greatest Irish joke of all time:
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Paddy leaves Ireland to work in London’s booming construction business. He comes up to a building sight and asks the Cockney foreman, “I was wondrin’ if ye might have any work fer me.” The foreman, who knows all Irishmen are stupid, figures he’d better make sure Paddy knows something about the trade. “All right, mate, but first, suppose you tell me the difference between a joist and a girder.” Paddy thinks a moment and says, “Well, now, I wasn’t expecting a test, but I t’ink Joyce wrote ‘Ulysses’ and Goethe wrote Faust.”