Haters will pry my love-filed, accessible joke explanations from my cold, dead hands.
For a long time now I've been adding joke explanations when I tweet jokes on Twitter, usually in a separate tweet and beginning with "#JokeExplanation" so that people who don't want to see explanations can mute that hashtag or just not read the tweet. For some reason this still bothers a lot of people who insist up and down to me that explaining the joke ruins it. The thesis of this post is: I don't care that it ruins it for them. I care about the people who can participate in my joke because of it.
If you're new here, hello, I'm Vagrant, and I'm autistic. I am in fact the particular flavour of autistic where I often miss big chunks of any given conversation that I'm having with someone. Sometimes people react to things I say in ways that I don't expect, sometimes people say one thing but expect me to do something else (and also to intuit that they want me to do that other thing), and sometimes people make jokes or references that go completely over my head and then they get confused or upset when I don't laugh.
My favourite instance of this - and it's a story I tell over and over - is the time I was hanging out with a wildly funny autistic friend who didn't know I was autistic yet. I missed 3 of their jokes in a row and they just said, "Do you realize you're ''not getting it'' more often than an autistic person?" And this, dear readers, is the story of how they clocked me as being autistic before I even told them.
This is one of the fun stories. There are also times when I'm later unsure if people were making fun of me and I just didn't know. I often analyze conversations afterwards, alone or with friends or with my therapist. Like scientists examining a bug with a magnifying glass, we try to answer questions like: why did the group laugh at that sentence and not the one after, the one that contained the actual joke? What is it exactly about this tweet that is funny? When I asked someone a question and everyone else laughed, did they think I was mocking them? Am I funny? What is humour, anyway? By the way, this is where it's really great to have a lot of autistic friends and a lot of linguist friends (and let me tell you, there's a LOT of overlap there).
I've learned that I'm adept at making accidental puns that make people howl with laughter while I just stare blankly until I do the math on what I just said. I'm open about the fact that when I give talks, I script all my jokes ahead of time. With a couple of autistic friends I've discussed my algorithm for figuring out whether someone just made a joke when I don't know them very well. As you can imagine, all of this has a high cognitive load. I'm not one of the people blessed with the effortlessly-funny gene.
You know what lessens the cognitive load? Tone indicator tags over text (like '/j' for joking, '/s' for sarcasm), laugh tracks, joke explanations.
Laugh tracks are comforting because they point to the joke and say THAT'S A JOKE. A joke is a joke in the social context it's in, so I may not always agree that it's funny or acceptable, particularly in media where making fun of fat people or trans people is considered something your laugh track can laugh at. Nevertheless, having an explicit signal of how the creators expect me to react to something makes me more equipped to understand the social values represented in a piece of media rather than having to guess. If only people came with laugh tracks that revealed all their values.
To me joke explanations combine a form of accessibility with a warm invitation to learn something new. It's my way of saying come here, I did something clever and I want to show it to you and show you how I did it. Given that I often describe how I come up with jokes as a process of "construction" or "engineering," this makes a lot of sense. Sharing the end result and the process is a love language.
Many people I know (even allistic people!) recognize the access and the love in my explanation tweets, with some telling me that my explanations make intent explicit, make them feel fuzzy and loved, help them understand and appreciate joke craftsmanship they otherwise would've completely missed (especially when I make multilingual jokes - often). So if you're one of the people annoyed by jokes being explained, I encourage you to take a more expansive view of who is let in via the explanations, and remember that letting those people in doesn't stop you from understanding and appreciating the joke if you do instantly get it.
If you cannot find it in your heart to enjoy joke explanations, you should also feel free to simply not read them, mute the hashtag, or even unfollow me. To everyone who loves my explainers, don't worry - the haters will pry my joke explanations from my cold, dead hands.
Jokes (click for explanations)
La Croix should enter the German market with an apple flavour and call it Apfelsprudel.La Croix is a company that makes fruit-flavoured sparkling/carbonated water, Sprudel is the German word for sparkling water, and Apfelsprudel would make for catchy branding because it sounds like the classic pastry Apfelstrudel.
Math transes love me because I'm homo and I'm toppy.There's a big intersection between math twitter and trans twitter and they all seem to study category theory and homotopy theory - which looks like homo and toppy (but isn't pronounced the same).
Call for submission! Are you a kinky queer? Submit to the Journal of Trans Disciplinary Studies!The journal of transdisciplinary studies is a real journal. Trans disciplinary studies could be the study of trans people engaging in (BDSM) disciplining. Our journal is seeking *submission*, presumably from subs (ha).
Do British transfems say they're on O?Alternate (predominantly British) spellings of estrogen and estradiol are oestrogen and oestradiol.
My grandmother (who believes in astrology - I don't) says this is an auspicious time for me. For years I have held myself back from telling her she's *technically* right, but only because birding is a big part of my life.This joke requires etymology + Latin knowledge. Auspicious comes from Latin auspice / auspex which literally means "one who looks at birds." This is related to the ancient roman practice of augury (using birds to interpret omens).
Ich habe einen Sitz-/Stehschreibtisch von IKEA - ich kann stehen und hüpfen oder sitzen und meine Beine schütteln. Außerdem habe ich Zappelspielzeug in den Schubladen. Das ist mein AutisTisch!I describe various autist-friendly features of my desk and then call it my AutisTisch which is wordplay because "autistisch" is an adjective meaning autistic and also "Tisch" is table in German.
Himbeeren. Herbeeren. Thembeeren. Xembeeren.This is a bilingual German + English joke about berries and pronouns. Himbeeren is the German word for raspberries. Him is an object pronoun in English and the remaining words are German berry names I invented with other English object pronouns.
I hope I see a magpie on New Year's Eve - a Silvelster, if you will.This is a niche German x bird x blend joke! Silvelster is a blend of Silvester and Elster, the German words for New Year's Eve and magpie respectively.
What do you call a restaurant by a German train station that serves homemade Thai food? Bahn Thai.Bahn is train in German and house/home in Thai.
Sometimes when I'm annoyed my accent shifts. I have Irritable Vowel Syndrome.It's a play on IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome but for vowels instead which can change with different spoken accents. This doesn't actually happen to me but it makes for a decent joke.
My German friend is a philosophy major currently doing an internship. I think that makes him a PraktiKant.Praktikant is the German word for intern/trainee (masculine) and Kant is a famous philosopher (who also happens to be German).
A uterus that can map humans to new humans. A hystomorphism, if you will.Morphisms (category theory) map between objects of the same type, e.g., histomorphisms. Hysto sounds like histo- and I'm using it as a uterus-related prefix. This is slightly cheating because "hysto" refers to hysterectomies in trans circles and the technically correct prefix for uterus-related would be hystero-.
What do you call it when a ternary computer stores its most significant bytes at its least significant address? Big-enbian.Endianness in computers describes how bytes are ordered in the system. Big-endian = most significant bytes at least significant address, little-endian is the opposite. A ternary computer is not binary, like enbies!
What do operant conditioning chambers (from psychology / animal behaviour) have in common with slaughterhouses? They're both skinner boxes.Animals get skinned in often vaguely box-shaped buildings known as slaughterhouses. And operant conditioning chambers are another name for Skinner boxes à la B. F. Skinner, psychologist prof dude.
Apparently ternary computers use trits, not bits. So would 8 of them still make a byte? Or would that be... Trite?Trite means cliché and it also works with the rhyming scheme of bit : byte :: trit : ?
BREAKING: CHURCH RELIC NOT SAINT HEART BUT CRANE HEART. SACR cœur.SACR = ABA 4-letter bird code for sandhill crane, cœur = French for heart, Sacré-Cœur = church and minor basilica in Paris.
Why did Labov hate his sabbatical in Singapore? Because there was no fourth floor.Labov is a sociolinguist famous for an experiment where he went around to New York City department stores and made salespeople say something was on the "4th floor" to see how they said the R sound in both words. He found out that the way you pronounced your Rs correlated with socioeconomic status (quantified here by how fancy the department store was). Buildings in Singapore often skip the 4th floor because 4 is considered an inauspicious number. So he wouldn't have been able to do his experiment there. Also as far as I know Labov never did a sabbatical there.
I have an inner gender cop. A genderme, if you will.Genderme sounds like gendarme but with gender in it. A gendarme is a French cop.
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