Best Equivocation Joke: Open Thread


It being a slow traffic week and me being on the road and swamped—COP21 is coming up next week, working on a new book, news of the old one is coming soon, et cetera, et cetera—I didn’t have time to say anything of interest today.

What better time for a joke challenge? As I often say, the best jokes are built on equivocation. My all-time favorite: Two cannibals are eating a clown and one says to the other, “Does this taste funny to you?”

And that reminds me of one told to me by Ianto Watt, author of The Barbarian Bible:The True History of Man Since the Fall of Troy. Did you hear about the cannibal who ate his brother? He threw up his arms in despair.

Since much of the world is at war—and hey, even we might be—it’s time to be a little less serious. What are your favorite jokes? But only those based on equivocation, mistaking one word or sound for another.

For example, this one doesn’t count: One snowman said to another, “That’s funny. I smell carrots, too.”

But this one does: Why did Mozart kill all his chickens? Because when he asked them who the best composer was, they’d all say “Bach bach bach!”

Get cracking! (And don’t forget my mother reads this blog.)


  1. James

    Cannibals are an excellent source of humor.

    Did you hear about the cannibal who passed his friend in the woods?

  2. vuurklip

    A cannibal walks into a bar. Barman: We don’t serve humans.

  3. John B()

    Talk about equivocation

    There had to have been a time when Paul Bunyan was a Babe in the woods

    (Invitation to work something better with the concept)

  4. John B()

    Paul Bunyan was the first with an identity crisis?

  5. richard stadter

    Here is an old one that I fall back on because no one ever is following along with the thought of the answer- Did you hear about the newly wed couple that didn’t know the difference between Vaseline and putty?

    Answer- Their windows fell out!

    Here’s another favorite that was in the comic section of the newspaper- The scene is a bartender talking to the characters “A”,”+”, “B”, and “=”. He asks, “Is there a problem here?”

    Here is one more favorite. It is a picture of a man staring intensely at a quart of Orange Juice, and has the caption’ “Herb always interpreted the word ‘concentrate’ as a verb.”

    I hope those are acceptable. I posted before I looked up the word ” equivocate”, although I see the context in the post, so a few of them may fit.

  6. MattS

    How many mice does it take to screw in a light bulb?

    Two, but don’t ask me how they got in the light bulb.

  7. Bob Lince

    2nd Banana: Would hit a woman with a baby?

    Top Banana: No, I’d hit her with a brick!

    [Via vaudeville, via e. e. cummings’ “Six Non-Lectures” (lecture #1, IIRC)]

  8. Bob Lince

    2nd Banana: Would you hit a woman with a baby?

    Top Banana: No, I’d hit her with a brick!

    [Via vaudeville, via e. e. cummings’ “Six Non-Lectures” (lecture #1, IIRC)]

  9. Felipe

    Young Spaniard goes London to learn English. Sees gorgeous blonde walking by the street and says -I love you! To his delight she answers -I love you too! So he replies -I love you three!

  10. HalflifeToolmaker

    P1. Hot dogs are better than nothing
    P2. Nothing is better than steak.
    C. Therefore, hot dogs are better than steak.

  11. A cannibal converted to catholicism: on fridays now he only eats fishermen. (h/t the late Fons Jansen)

  12. DAV

    How do you keep a goat from smelling? Cut off its nose.

    XM Classics ad about listening while on a shopping trip: You’ll be more relaxed when you get Bach in your car.

  13. FAH

    Why does hamburger have lower energy than steak?

    Because it’s in the ground state.

  14. TheRealAaron

    I heard this on a podcast just this morning and thought of this post

    Guest: “…there’s on thing that gives me pause—”
    Host (interrupting): “What about a witch turning you into a dog?”
    Guest: (confusion)
    Host: “That would also give you paws” (continues the show as if nothing had happened)

  15. Ray

    Cannibals capture a missionary and cook and eat him. Afterward everybody gets indigestion. The chief calls the cook and asks him what he did. The cook says they put the missionary in the pot with water and vegetables and boiled him. The chief screams at the cook, “you fool, that was a friar”.

  16. FAH

    A newlywed husband is discouraged by his wife’s obsession with math. Afraid of being second fiddle to her profession, he finally confronts her: “Do you love math more than me?”

    “Of course not, dear – I love you much more.”

    Happy, although skeptical, he challenges her: “Well, then prove it!”

    Thinking for a second, she responds: “OK… Let epsilon be greater than zero…”

  17. Larry Geiger

    Why did the chicken cross the road?
    To prove to the armadillo that it could be done.

  18. John B()

    Does this work better?

    Paul Bunyan had once had a serious identity problem.
    It was back when he was just a Babe in the woods.

  19. Steve E

    Q: What’s the hardest part of eating vegetable soup?

    A: Digesting the wheelchair.

  20. John B()

    Steve E:

    Please: No sick jokes. It’s a personal thing for me.
    I had a class on humor once. I read a book on Sick humor.
    After reading it, I know it was a coincidence, came down with a terrible flu.

  21. James

    Two fish are in a tank. One says “you drive, I’ll man the turret”.

  22. DAV

    If Bunyan thought he was Babe he had a true identity problem if you Ox me.

  23. MattS

    Why did the ostrich cross the road?

    Because it was the chicken’s day off.

  24. Steve E

    A Mary Poppins favourite for John B():

    I know a man with a wooden leg named Smith.

    Really, what’s the name of his other leg?

  25. DAV

    Bit OT but speaking of sound-alike words My grandfather once announced he couldn’t find his garachki and he needed it. He went on and on about it. My father finally said “WTF is a garachki? Turns out it’s the thing used to unlock a garage.

  26. MattS


    Would you like to see my hammerfor?

  27. If Dav actually asks what’s a hammerfor I’ll eat Smith’s other leg!

  28. DAV

    I think a hammerfor is much like a henway.

    Gnaw way anyway. Talk about wooden humor.

  29. …or maybe I should’ve said the leg next to Smith… anyway, not the wooden one.

  30. Reminds me of the joke about the man who’s sensitive about his wooden false eye asking the lady who’s sensitive about her weight and expansive girth if she would like to dance.

  31. DAV

    Then there’s: a man walks into a bar; says “ouch”.

    In Maine, some people use robots when the motobots break down.

  32. Also the one about Mick Jagger round a corner in the playboy mansion and discovering the proprietor and none other than Dennis Weaver doing I can’t even describe what on a family site. Shocked of course, Jagger blurts out, “Hey, Hugh! Get offa McCloud!”

  33. I heard about a similar thing happening to a similar guy, DAV, but he didn’t get hurt because a little earlier up block he had turned into a restaurant.

  34. DAV

    In case anyone wants to know: a Henway is, for example, this guy when speaking in Lisp, Elmer Fudd’s native language.

  35. DAV


    Yeah. I know another guy who turned into a motel when his hitchhiker whispered in his ear.

  36. Steve E


    If I’m not mistaken, the girthy lady says, “would I, would I.”

    Although the way I heard it the lady had a harelip and not a weight problem.

  37. DAV

    I should add they were magic words and the hitchhiker claimed to be a witch.

  38. DAV

    Depending on where the dance request occurred it could have been a hair lip.
    A bar in old Soho, perhaps?

  39. DAV

    One of my favorites was the last line in one of Douglas Hofstadter’s articles in SciAm some years ago. The subject was exploring self-referential sentences. After many examples he ended with:

    “I am being sentenced to death.’

  40. Steve E

    Dav: A bar in old Soho, perhaps?

    If you hum it I might recognize the tune.

  41. Rich

    We went to a Chinese restaurant and ordered beers and chow mein but they tried to sell us egg foo yung.

  42. Rich

    Caesar is stabbed in the Capitol. He cries, “Infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it in for me.”
    (Claimed by Muir and Norden.)

  43. Anon

    Why don’t Amish women wear sleeveless dresses? They refuse to bare arms.

  44. csb

    Hear about the plastic surgeon who hung himself?

  45. csb

    And then there was the plastic surgeon who sat by the fireplace … and melted.

  46. DAV

    Steve E,

    Hummmmmm ….

  47. Jules Marasciullo

    Well this is more of an equivocation of perspective than the words themselves but I love this one – Two blonds – one on each side of a river – one says to the other – “How do you get to the other side?” The other looks around then looks back and says; “You ARE on the other side!” 😉 Did you envision females – I never mentioned their gender????? 😉

  48. DAV

    Reminds me of “you can go there but I can’t because when I’m there I’m still here.”

    Did you envision females – I never mentioned their gender?????
    Well, no. Not until you mentioned it at least. You must have though otherwise why ask?

  49. A man went to a zoo, but the only animal in the zoo was a dog.

    It was a Shih Tzu.

  50. Bill S.

    Coincidence. Gotta love coincidence.
    On my afternoon commute a young lady in an itty bitty four wheel disc brake car decided she needed to jump in front of my pick up and hit the skids. It was close folks and I admit to shouting “You stupid expletive deleted”.
    Well – I’d been idly thinking if I could make up a joke for Professor Briggs.
    Which all led to the following.
    Q. If a female dog is a bitch, what do you call her male companion?
    A. “You poor SOB.”

  51. John B()

    Steve E. :

    “Although the way I heard it the lady had a harelip and not a weight problem.”

    I think you’re thinking of being mighty Thor – and yes Briggs’ mom reads this and tries to comment as David Apple [sic] – be werry werry careful

    I never considered the Smith joke as sick

  52. John B()


    Thanks for humoring mr

  53. John B()


    Not to beet a dead hoarse

    How do you know the other leg isn’t a wooden leg named Jones

    Does any one else remember Alias Smith and Jones?

  54. Hal

    What did the grape say when it was crushed?
    Nothing. It just let out a little wine.

  55. Hal

    A baby seal walks into a club……..

  56. John B()


    That’s sic [sic] see above

  57. DMA

    Noah commented that the snakes were not producing any young for the new world. They replied that they needed some logs in their new lairs. When things improved and Noah wondered why they said ” we are adders. We need logs to multiply.

  58. Milton Hathaway

    Best? No. Unless by “best” you actually mean “worst”.

    I lost my job at the orange juice factory – I just couldn’t concentrate.

    A termite walks into a bar and asks “Where’s the bartender?”

    Bus is heading down Sesame Street. At the first stop, a weightlifter boards. Bus driver: “Hi Patty”.

    At the second stop, a wrestler boards. Bus driver: “Hi, Patty”.

    At the third stop, a fastidiously dressed gentlemen boards. Bus driver: “Hi, Ross, how are you today?” Ross: “I’m special, as always.”

    At the fourth stop, a clown boards. Bus driver: “Welcome aboard. What’s your name?” Clown: “Why, I’m Lester B.”

    At the fifth stop, the bus driver notices in the rear-view mirror that Lester has removed his shoes and is attending to his feet.

    That evening, the bus driver’s spouse asks “How was work today, dear?” The bus driver replies “The usual, honey: two all-beef Patties, special Ross, and Lester B picking his bunions on the Sesame Street bus.”

    Did you hear about the new disease that is going around in the bird population?

    It’s called Chirpees. It’s a canarial disease. They get it from flocking. And the worst part is, there’s no tweatment.

    Dale Evans: “Pardon me Roy, is that the cat who chewed your new shoes?”

  59. MattS

    A man takes his sick pet iguana to the vet.

    The vet give him a prescription for Viagra and tells him to give the iguana one tablet per day.

    The man looks at the vet, then at the iguana, then at the prescription. He looks back at the vet and asks, “Why Viagra?”

    The vet looks at the man and says your iguana just has a reptile dysfunction.

  60. max

    A Greek man brings his suit to the dry cleaner’s and the clerk notices the trousers are torn, so she holds out the trousers and says rebukingly to the man “Euripides.” The man takes the trousers, shakes his head sadly and says “Eumenides.”

  61. Goznor

    Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, “My friend is dead! What can I do?” The operator says, “Calm down. I can help. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.” There is a silence; then a gun shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says, “OK, now what?”

  62. Here’s one custom for you Briggs…

    I just got a letter from Paul! It was certainly apostolate!


  63. Bumble

    I was going to perform a juggling act while tight-rope walking across Niagra Falls, but then I realised I didn’t have the balls for it.

  64. Gary

    A horse walks into a bar and the bartender asks, “Why the long face?”

  65. BrianH

    Nurse: There’s a man in the lobby who claims to be invisible.
    Doctor: Tell him I can’t see him right now.

  66. Goznor

    What do you call a poodle/shih-tzu mix?

    A shihtzapoo.

  67. MattS

    pi r round.

    brownie r squared

  68. Andrew

    When the girl’s hair was cut short, she was distressed.

  69. Andrew

    Also, an old classic:

    Mary had a little lamb
    She also had a bear
    I often saw her little lamb
    But never saw her bear

  70. John B()


    …and she got her dress all wrinkled and was depressed

  71. Fr. John Rickert

    I didn’t really want to go to the wedding but had to out of courtesy. It was OK, I guess, and so I reluctantly decided to put in an appearance at the reception. That was a disaster. Nothing was ready. It was all disorganized, and the reception line just grew longer and longer. To top it off, the guy in front of me started telling me stale, pointless, annoying jokes which only he would laugh at, and he wouldn’t let up, but kept going and going, not even noticing in the least how frustrated I was getting with him, not to mention the reception; and I tell you that in all my life I have never seen such a long punch line.

  72. Wlad

    Time flies like an arrow.
    Fruit flies like bananas.

  73. Bumble

    “And then I grabbed the parachute and jumped,” he explained.

  74. Steve E

    A panda walks into a cafe. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.
    “Why?” asks the confused waiter as the panda makes for the exit.
    “I’m a panda,” he says. “Look it up.”
    Sure enough, when the waiter googles Panda on his iPad the first result that comes back (badly punctuated mind you) says, “Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.”

    with apologies to Lynne Truss

  75. DAV

    Eats, shoots and leaves

    If the comma had been inserted by a young lady it could be said to have been miss placed.

  76. Dennis K

    A Hydrogen ion walks into a bar and says to the bartender, “I’ve lost my electron!”. The bartender says to him, “are you sure?” “I’m positive!”

  77. So Lukey decides that he’ll get out of Yancey County, North Carolina, by joining the Navy to see the world. His first liberty after he gets out of basic training is in Boston. He decides he has to try to pick up some of those Harvard girls he’s heard about. So he goes into the first college bar he finds, and walks up to a pretty young lady who’s wearing a sweater with a big “Y” on the front and asks her, “Pardon me, miss, but do you go to Harvard?”
    She scowls and snaps, “Yale.”
    He says, “Okay. PARDON ME MISS, BUT DO YOU GO TO HARVARD?!?!?”

  78. Yawrate

    Why did the chicken cross the playground?

    To get to the other side!

  79. Doomsdave

    These may not exactly qualify but they are my favorites:

    How many surrealists does it take to screw in a light bulb?


    A masochist says “Hit me”. The sadist says “No”.

  80. DAV

    The masochist to the black-jack dealer: “Hit me!”

  81. Larry Geiger

    Andrew, in written form should it be?

    Mary had a little lamb
    She also had a bear
    I often saw her little lamb
    But never saw her bare.

  82. RobR

    Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear
    Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair
    Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t Fuzzy Wuzzy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *