A joke is a brief attempt at wit, or an extended story that concludes with a punchline. The desired goal is the amusement of the audience, and the joke can come in numerous forms. In fact there are prescribed themes on which they can revolve and one of these is the famous or infamous bar joke.
The bar joke often begins with “A man walks into a bar...” This can vary and can include very many different types of people, animals or strange animated objects walking into a bar. There are many jokes that start this way, and most people know a few of them particularly well.
The first of these is “A man walks into a bar and says “Ouch!” A simple joke, but in the telling it can be very funny if the audience gets it. Another very well known bar joke is the following: “A horse walks into a bar. The bartender says, “Why the long face?”
These two simple bar jokes are part of the common repertoire, and may get a laugh if the audience hasn’t heard them. Other bar jokes don’t bear repeating as they often are also classed as sexist, racist, or otherwise offensive.
One of the popular long jokes often adapted to the “walks into a bar” scenario is the following:
- A string walks into a bar. The bartender gives him an angry glance and says “Hey, we don’t serve strings here.” The string leaves, puts on a costume and comes back. Once again the bartender kicks him out of the bar, and says, “We don’t serve strings here!” The string sits outside and ties himself into a knot because he badly wants a drink. Then he begins to fray the edges of the knot so the top of his head looks like hair. By this time, the string feels he’s made enough of a transformation to get a drink at the bar. When the string enters the bar, the bartender looks at him suspiciously and says, “Hey, aren’t you that string?” The string replies: “Nope, frayed knot.”
Another form of the bar joke that has become increasingly popular is the meta-joke. This is a joke that makes fun of a particular form, like the bar joke or the clown joke. One that makes fun of this genre is the following:
A rabbi, a minister and an Imam walk into a bar. The bartender says: “Is this some kind of joke?” The joke here is that typically, the bar joke would diverge here into some probably anti-religious reference. Instead, the bartender is simply amazed that this particular group, often belonging in the bar joke set, would all show up together.
Most people know a few bar jokes, and they may have a favorite. Many have been told for decades, but each generation tends to modernize the bar joke, and adapt it to the current audience.