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HUMOR, FOOD IN

WAITER JOKES

Among all food jokes, the most popular seem to be those making fun of waiters. Such jokes portray wait- ers as rude and not interested in the orders and com- plaints of the customer; in other words, waiters are not seen as true professionals. However, these jokes also focus on the presumed ability of waiters to answer any customer complaints with witty and unexpected one- upmanship, thereby creating an incongruous situation. The preferred format of waiter jokes is question and answer. The following are a few examples.

1. Customer: Waiter, there is a dead spider in my soup!

Waiter: Yes, Sir, they can’t stand the boiling water!

2. Customer: Waiter, waiter, there is a fly in my soup! Waiter: Not so loud, Sir, everyone will want one!

3. Customer: There is a small slug in my salad ! Waiter: Sorry, Sir, I’ll get you a bigger one!

4. Question: Why do waiters prefer elephants to flies? Answer: Have you ever heard anyone complain- ing of an elephant in their soup?

5. Customer: Waiter, waiter, there is a spider in my soup!

Send for the manager!

Waiter: It’s no good, Sir, he’s frightened of them too.

One-Liners, Puns, Riddles, and Word Play

These closely related and occasionally overlapping gen- res of humor are devoted to comments about common- sense rules of eating, dieting, low-calorie foods, overeating, obesity, food fads, and favorite, and addictive, foods of individuals and groups. Incongruity is the result of such techniques as reversal, exaggeration, and double meaning. Note the following: “Eating should never make you sad, unless it is a mourning meal”; “Visibly upset from the whole ordeal, the grape juice started to whine”; “I used to work at the sugar packaging factory. Then my position was dissolved”; “The upper crust of society is composed of a lot of crumbs held together by dough”; “If you eat something, but no one else sees you eat it, it has no calories.”

Consumption humor is contrary to the common- sense constraints concerning what to eat and how much. Everyone has particular food addictions and many believe in the dictum of living to eat rather than eating to live! Humor focuses on such shortcomings. Note these one- liners: “If we are what we eat, then I am easy, fast, and cheap”; “A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand”; “No one thinks of any ‘rules’ associated with the when, where, and how chocolate should be eaten.” We have the rid- dle: “Q.: Why is there no such organization as Choca- holics Anonymous? A: Because no one wants to quit eating chocolate.”

as “Smash nationwide bestseller by a writer’s writer! Meet T. S. (Terribly Salable) Carp, porpoiseful young novel- ist, and discover the best love story New England has produced since “Ethan Fromage”; “Lady Chatterley’s Liver”; “Moby Duck”; and “The Soufflé Also Rises.” The illustrations accompanying each tasty title are exagger- ated and amusing.

Imaginary food recipes focusing on the personality traits of famous people are favorite areas of food humor. This kind of humor is difficult to categorize, although it probably comes under the heading of parody. Freud’s Own Cookbook by James Hillman and Charles Boer (1984) and

Jean-Paul Sartre’s Cooking Diary (author unknown) are

two such examples. The first describes such dishes as “Slips of the Tongue in Madeira Sauce” (p. 48),” “Eroge- nous Scones” (p. 75), and “Incredible Oedipal Pie” (p. 76), that are reminiscent of concepts developed by Freud and his friends and colleagues. The Sartre book consists of philosophical musing about cooking and recipes.

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Humor associating food with various aspects of hu- man anatomy and sexual activities is widespread and pop- ular. For example: “Q: What did one strawberry say to the other strawberry? A: If we hadn’t been found in the same bed together we wouldn’t be in this jam!” Note “The Life Story of An Egg”: “So you think your life is bad, then just think how bad the life of an egg is. . . . You only get laid once. You only get eaten once. It takes four minutes to get hard and two minutes to get soft. You have to share a box with eleven other guys. And the only chick that ever sat on your face was your mother!”

Dictionaries of food items and related terms with creatively outrageous or absurd meanings are another type of humor, as illustrated by A Cook’s Dictionary by Henry Beard and Roy McKie. They “bring new mean- ing to matters of taste.” The very definition of the word “cooking” on the cover page is given as “1.n. the art of using appliances and utensils to convert ingredients and seasonings into excuses and apologies.” A “chef” is de- fined as “any cook who swears in French,” while “health food” is defined as “any food whose flavor is indistin- guishable from that of the package in which it is sold.” This dictionary also includes cartoon-style humorous sketches of food-related activities.

See also: Feasts, Festivals, and Fasts; Folklore, Food in; Sex and Food; Table Talk.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Apte, Mahadev L. Humor and Laughter: An Anthropological Ap-

proach. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1985.

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