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#1 2014-01-22 18:03:05

canpolat
#! CrunchBanger
Registered: 2012-09-25
Posts: 113

Why is this joke funny?

In Salinger's "Ocean Full of Bwoling Balls", there is the following joke I don't understand. Perhaps someone could explain why it's so funny?

In just a couple of minutes we were at Lassiter's joint. It was an off hour and there was only one car, a De Soto sedan, in the parking space; it looked locked and hot, but not oppressive because we were feeling pretty slick. We sat down at a table outside on the screened porch. At the other end of the porch a fat, baldheaded man in a yellow polo shirt sat eating blue points. He had a newspaper propped up against a salt shaker. He looked very lonesome and very much the owner of the hot, empty big sedan baking outside in the parking space.

While I tipped my chair back, trying to catch sight of Lassiter through the fly-buzzy hallway to the bar, the fat man spoke up.

"Hey Red, where'dja get that red hair?"

Kenneth turned around to look at the man, and said:

"A guy gave it to me on the road."

That nearly killed the guy. He was bald as a pear. "A guy gave it to you on the road, eh?" he said. "Think he could fix me up?"

"Sure." Kenneth said. "You gotta give him a blue card, though. Last year's. He won't take this year's."

That really killed the guy. "Gotta give him a blue card, eh?" he asked, shaking.

"Yeah. Last year's." Kenneth told him.

The fat man shook on as he turned back to his newspaper; and after that he looked over at our table frequently, as though he had pulled up a chair.

There are two quesitons here:
1. Why is "A guy gave it to me on the road." a joke. Is this referring to a song, joke, etc.
2. Why is "You gotta give him a blue card, though. Last year's. He won't take this year's." funny? (There is an unanswered question about this)

Looking forward to hearing comments/interpretations.


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#2 2014-01-22 21:07:44

pvsage
Internal Affairs
From: North Carolina
Registered: 2009-10-18
Posts: 12,338

Re: Why is this joke funny?

Obviously, a straight answer to the original question would be "I inherited it."  I think the humor lies in the absurdity.


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#3 2014-01-22 21:11:52

hinto
#! Windbag
From: Cary, NC
Registered: 2010-12-08
Posts: 1,406

Re: Why is this joke funny?

I never understood why "The Catcher in the Rye" ever became a "classic".  There are tons of better literature by expatriates.
-Hinto

Last edited by hinto (2014-01-22 21:52:05)


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#4 2014-01-22 21:23:20

canpolat
#! CrunchBanger
Registered: 2012-09-25
Posts: 113

Re: Why is this joke funny?

pvsage wrote:

Obviously, a straight answer to the original question would be "I inherited it."  I think the humor lies in the absurdity.

Since it "nearly killed the guy" I thought I was missing something. So, it's not that deep after all smile

The blue card bit is still a mystery, though.


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#5 2014-01-22 21:41:41

lcafiero
The #! Guy
From: Felton, California, USA
Registered: 2011-07-21
Posts: 2,196
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Re: Why is this joke funny?

hinto wrote:

I never understood why "The Catcher in the Rye" ever became a "classic".  There are tons of better literature by ex-patriots.
-Hinto

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#6 2014-01-22 21:46:34

hinto
#! Windbag
From: Cary, NC
Registered: 2010-12-08
Posts: 1,406

Re: Why is this joke funny?

The Old Man in the Sea
The Great Gatsby
Anything by E.E. Cummings
Anything by Robert Frost

Just a few off the top of my head
-H


"Sometimes I wish I hadn't taken the red pill" -Me

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#7 2014-01-22 22:23:45

pvsage
Internal Affairs
From: North Carolina
Registered: 2009-10-18
Posts: 12,338

Re: Why is this joke funny?

canpolat wrote:

The blue card bit is still a mystery, though.

I can think of no more absurdly random form of currency than "last year's blue card"...except maybe "next Tuesday's blue button". wink
EDIT:  "Omaha"?  #PeytonManning

Last edited by pvsage (2014-01-22 22:26:06)


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#8 2014-01-22 23:59:05

PackRat
#! Die Hard
From: USA
Registered: 2011-03-03
Posts: 1,298

Re: Why is this joke funny?

At the time Salinger wrote that story, a blue card may be a reference to playing cards with pin up girls on them - a popular novelty item. Many of Salinger's works have characters speak with the local colloquialisms of the time.

Last edited by PackRat (2014-01-23 00:00:03)


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#9 2014-01-23 02:05:05

hinto
#! Windbag
From: Cary, NC
Registered: 2010-12-08
Posts: 1,406

Re: Why is this joke funny?

IMHO, the only good story that included Salinger was Shoeless Joe
However, the real Salinger sued W. P. Kinsella instead of appreciating the nod given to him.
I remember asking my HS English teacher why we didn't read "Catcher in the Rye", and she replied that she didn't think a story where the protagonist was insane was really good. (My teacher graduated from the very liberal arts university in NC)
I read the novel much later.... and realized she was correct.
-Hinto


"Sometimes I wish I hadn't taken the red pill" -Me

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#10 2014-01-23 06:09:13

intoCB
Scatweasel
Registered: 2012-10-25
Posts: 1,941

Re: Why is this joke funny?

^Yep. I've always avoided it for that reason. I think it is not a healthy book.


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#11 2014-01-23 07:38:34

canpolat
#! CrunchBanger
Registered: 2012-09-25
Posts: 113

Re: Why is this joke funny?

pvsage wrote:
canpolat wrote:

The blue card bit is still a mystery, though.

I can think of no more absurdly random form of currency than "last year's blue card"...except maybe "next Tuesday's blue button". wink
EDIT:  "Omaha"?  #PeytonManning

I see. But I still thought "blue card" should be something that refers to something that's well known by the time (1945-1947). Like the pin-up cards mentioned by PackRat.

PackRat wrote:

At the time Salinger wrote that story, a blue card may be a reference to playing cards with pin up girls on them - a popular novelty item. Many of Salinger's works have characters speak with the local colloquialisms of the time.

This answer was proposed at StackExchange as well. There are two things that doesn't convince me regarding this answer:

1. Pin-up cards are generally a deck of cards, not a single card.
2. And I'm not sure anybody would refer to these cards by the year they were published.


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#12 2014-01-23 07:48:39

pvsage
Internal Affairs
From: North Carolina
Registered: 2009-10-18
Posts: 12,338

Re: Why is this joke funny?

^ I buy PackRat's explanation.  Maybe the previous year's pinup cards were considered better for some reason?  Perhaps a new censorship policy had gone into effect that year?


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#13 2014-01-23 13:50:16

PackRat
#! Die Hard
From: USA
Registered: 2011-03-03
Posts: 1,298

Re: Why is this joke funny?

Trading pin-up cards would be like trading baseball cards - i.e Hank Aaron's rookie card is worth more than is 2nd year card - I don't know when that book/story was written, or the year it's supposed to take place, but the 1940's - 1950's the arts in America were subject to censorship (the current system of movie ratings were replacing the original Hays Code, Catcher in the Rye and Tropic of Capricorn were routinely banned). A previous year's deck of cards may have contained more nudity than the current deck - Salinger didn't shy away from social-political jabs in his works.

Humor is subjective, but I found Salinger's Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters rather funny.

Last edited by PackRat (2014-01-23 14:19:59)


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#14 2014-01-23 14:28:14

hinto
#! Windbag
From: Cary, NC
Registered: 2010-12-08
Posts: 1,406

Re: Why is this joke funny?

intoCB wrote:

^Yep. I've always avoided it for that reason. I think it is not a healthy book.

It's poor English and not very good stream of consciousness, either.  But hey... what do I know?  I'm a backwoods NC native wink
-Hinto


"Sometimes I wish I hadn't taken the red pill" -Me

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#15 2014-01-23 16:09:01

pvsage
Internal Affairs
From: North Carolina
Registered: 2009-10-18
Posts: 12,338

Re: Why is this joke funny?

^ Hey, I'm a graduate of our public schools here, and even I found Holden's thought patterns...well, I think I understand why so many of Salinger's fans enjoy reading him at 4:20.


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#16 2014-01-23 16:10:58

hinto
#! Windbag
From: Cary, NC
Registered: 2010-12-08
Posts: 1,406

Re: Why is this joke funny?

^ Maybe some #!-ers from or in Seattle or Colorado can chime in?
-H


"Sometimes I wish I hadn't taken the red pill" -Me

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