Jokes We Told Each Other

In 2019, an APL colleague and I found ourselves in less than ideal life circumstances. We (joined by another APL colleague) told each other jokes to raise our spirits. In the following, “A” is the party of the first part (that would be me) and “B” is the party of the second part (the first APL colleague).

Slightly edited and embellished from the original telling. There is no claim that the jokes originated with us.


Patient: Doctor, after the operation, will I be able to play the violin?

Doctor: Absolutely; no reason not.

Patient: Good. I’ve always wanted to play the violin.

[If I were the patient I would ask whether I can play the piano, trumpet, and violin. Heck, throw in guitar too while I’m at it.]


How about a competition on terrible puns? (Is there any other kind?) I’ll start:

A young colleague and I stopped at the local supermarket before going back to our lodgings.

YC: We need to buy some eggs; there’s only one left in the house.

Me: If you were French one egg would be un oeuf.

(I waited years before springing that one. Worth the wait.)


A raccoon with a dead rat and dead bird in its mouth was stopped at the gate by the flight attendant. “Sorry, sir, only one carrion per passenger,” said the attendant.

Gandhi walked everywhere and developed thick skin on his soles. Because of his diet he had a weak physical disposition and suffered from bad breath. Gandhi was, therefore: A super callused, fragile mystic, hexed by halitosis.

I bestow/inflict these on my daughter too often, I am afraid. She has a fantastic memory so now all we need to say is: Carrion! Gandhi! (Groan.)

0 1 2 3 (⌊/⍬) 5 6The fourth is strong with this one.
4 4 4 4 (⌊/⍬) 4 4I feel a great disturbance in the fours.
4 ⊃ 0 1 2 3 'dark side'    Vier ist the path to the dark side.

0-origin, natch.

For more of the same, see




A physicist, a biologist, and a mathematician sat on a bench opposite an empty derelict house. They saw a person go into the house. A while later two people came out.

Physicist: Ah, observational error.
Biologist: No, it is an unusual case of mitosis.
Mathematician: If another person now enters the house, it would be empty.

[I told this to an accountant friend who said, I don’t get it. It was embarrassing.]


After their exertions at the empty derelict house, the physicist, the biologist, and the mathematician walked into a bar. The bartender took one look at them and said, “What is this, some kind of joke?”


The physicist, the biologist, and the mathematician, joined by rabbi, walked into another bar. On the threshold, the rabbi caught himself and said, “Wait! I am in the wrong joke!”


Another time, a man (profession unknown) walked into a bar with his dog. The man told the bartender, this here is a talking dog. The bartender says, nah! No, really, it’s a talking dog.

Bartender:If you can prove it, I’ll give you a free drink.
Man:Woofie, what’s on top of a house?
Man:Woofie, how does my chin feel if I haven’t shaved?
Man:Woofie, what is your name?
Man:Woofie, what is my name?
Man:Woofie, what’s the animal whose scientific name is Canis lupus?
Dog:Wolf!  [How about that, the dog knows Latin.]
Man:Woofie, who’s the greatest home run hitter of all time?
Man:Barkeep, where’s my free drink?
Bartender:Get out of my bar!
(Whereupon he took the dog by its dog ear and the man by his man ear and threw them out. Outside,)
Dog:Hank Aaron?

A:   What did the constipated mathematician do? He worked it out with a pencil. (Sorry.)
[Reader comment: It had to be a #2 pencil.]
B:Thanks. You could use APL to work it out but I’m having a problem picturing that.
A:Perlisism #3: Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon. APL does not have syntactic sugar.

[A’s last remark is less of a non sequitur than appears, unfortunately.]


A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the hotel manager came over and asked them to disperse.

“But why?” they asked.

“Because,” the manager said, “I can’t stand chess nuts boasting in an open foyer.”

B:   I felt really good this week until I read this last pun.
A:Glad to be of help.

A:  There was a Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal (shudder) because he wanted to transcend dental medication.
B:Have you discussed your puns with your doctor—there could be a connection with your condition that they have not considered.
A:I am afraid my condition has long ago metastasized to beyond just puns: What happens when a mathematician gets old? First, he forgets his theorems. Then, he forgets to zip up. Finally, he forgets to zip down.


Not far from here is the world-famous San Diego Zoo. One of the things they are famous for is the porpoise pool because reportedly these porpoises can live forever so long as they have a continual diet of baby sea gulls. The director of the zoo sent an attendant down to the ocean to bring back baby sea gulls for the porpoises. However, while the zoo attendant was down at the beach, the lions escaped from their cages and began to surround the porpoise pool. The zoo is prepared for such incidents and immediately used tranquilizer darts to sedate the lions. When the attendant returned carrying thousands of young gulls, he had to jump over the lions to get to the pool and was immediately arrested. The charge?

Transporting young gulls across staid lions for immortal porpoises.


Not bad, son. Stick with me and you too can become an expert paronomasiac.


A bear walks into a bar and asks the bartender for a beer. The bartender says, “Sorry, we don’t sell beer to bears in bars.”

The bear replies, “If you don’t sell me a beer, I’ll eat that dog over there.”

The bartender says, “Go right ahead.”

So the bear eats the dog and asks again for a beer.

“Sorry, we don’t sell beer to bears on drugs,” says the bartender.

“What do mean,” asks the bear. “I’m not on drugs.”

“Yes, you are, that was a bar bitch you ate.”


The monastery in a small town fell on hard times because they were not very successful in their annual campaign visits. To make ends meet, the monks took to selling flowers door-to-door. They were so successful that the established flower shop in town saw their sales drop precipitously. The flower shop owner tried to reason with the monks, to no avail. In desperation the owner convinced Hugh McTaggart, the roughest and toughest guy in town, to talk to the monks. McTaggart remonstrated with the monks and, being the roughest and toughest, prevailed. This shows that Hugh, and only Hugh, can prevent florist friars.


Where do you weigh a pie?
♫ Somewhere over the rainbow ♪, …


A snail won the lottery! He walked (snailed?) over to a Ferrari dealership and bought a red Testarossa, loaded. The solicitous salesperson asked whether he wanted anything else. The snail said, “Just paint a big green S on the back of the car.”

“Why would you want that?”

“When I go vroom-vroom, I want people to point at me and say, look at that S car go!”


Two old couples got together every Friday to play cards. Part way through the evening, the women got up to make a snack and the men were talking.

Man 0:  We went to a great restaurant last week. You should try it.
Man 1:What was its name?
(Man 0 struggles to think of the name.)
Man 0:What’s that flower that you might give to your wife on Valentine’s Day? You know the red one.
Man 1:You mean a rose?
Man 0:That’s it. Rose, what was the name of that restaurant we went to last week?


Guy walked into a bar and ordered a drink. He started drinking and munching on the peanuts that came with it.

“Hey, you’re looking good today! Have you lost some weight recently? From the looks of it you must be doing well in your work. etc. etc.”

Guy looked around, there was no one nearby. Then he realized that the peanuts were talking!

“Bartender, the peanuts are talking to me! And they are saying good things!”

Bartender replied, nonchalantly, “Oh, the peanuts are complimentary.”


A policeman in Brooklyn found a man lying on the street.

Are you alright, sir?
Oh, I am fine, officer.
What are you doing lying on the street?
We have been looking for a parking spot for years, and finally found one. I am saving the spot while my wife is out buying a car.


Three squires went camping with their wives. One couple slept on a deer skin, one slept on a bear skin, and the third slept on a hippopotamus skin. All three wives became pregnant. The first two each had a baby boy. The one who slept on the hippopotamus skin had twin boys. This just goes to prove that … the squire of the hippopotamus is equal to the sons of the squires of the other two hides.


A man rushed into a busy doctor’s office and shouted, “Doctor, doctor! I think I'm shrinking!”

The doctor responded, “Now, calm down. You’ll just have to be a little patient.”


What do Winnie the Pooh, Attila the Hun, and Billy the Kid have in common?

Their middle names.


The optimist thinks this is the best that life has to offer. The pessimist is very much afraid that the optimist is right.


Raymond Smullyan, This Book Needs No Title, Simon & Schuster, 1980, pp. 5-6

Types of Optimists

Do you know the difference between an optimist and an incurable optimist? Well, an optimist is one who says: “Everything is for the best; mankind will survive.”

An incurable optimist is one who says: “Everything is for the test; mankind will survive. And even if mankind doesn’t survive, it is still for the best.”

Then there is what I would call a pessimistic optimist. A pessimistic optimist is one who sadly shakes his head and says: “I’m afraid that everything is for the best!”


How can you tell an optimist from a pessimist?

Ask them to pronounce OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE.


A man walks into a library and went up to the librarian.

Man: I’d like to have a cheeseburger, fries, and a milkshake.
Librarian: Sir, this is a library.
Man: (In a whisper) I’d like to have a cheeseburger, fries, and a milkshake.


What side of a turkey has the most feathers? The outside.


A young sailor struck up a conversation with a crusty old pirate.

Old timer, how’d you end up with your peg leg?

Well, we was off the coast of Zanibar when a giant octopus jumped out of the water and grabbed me leg. When I finally got free me leg was too mangled to be saved.

Too bad. How about the hook on your right arm?

That time we was off Cuba when this giant shark jumped out and went for me head. I fended it off with me right arm. Saved me head, but off with me right hand. Doc fitted me with a hook.

How about the patch on your right eye?

Well, I got an itch in me eye.

What? You lost your eye because of an itch?

Aye, it was the first day I had me hook.


A joke by the late John Scholes, from APL Quotations and Anecdotes.

An American, in a cafe with two friends, orders a cup of tea and an English Muffin. His friend from London points out: we just say 'Muffin'. Later, when he orders a cup of coffee and a Danish, his friend from Copenhagen says: we just call them ''.


Two prisoners in adjoining cells pass the long days by telling each other jokes. The jokes were told so often that they can be identified by numbers and told as such.

“Fifty nine!”

“Ha, that’s a good one! How about 172?”

“Ha ha ha ha, funny. 91!”


“What’s the matter, you’ve always found 91 funny.”

“It’s the way you told it.”


Your prisoners story brings to mind several follow-ons. I’m guessing you already know these but just in case.

A new prisoner arrived and was amazed at the joke telling. He was encouraged to give it a try.

“Forty four,” he said.

There was no reaction at all—deafening silence.

“I don’t understand. What happened?”

“We don’t care for stories like that. Try again.”

“Seventy three!”

The place erupts in laughter.

“Well, I guess y’all like that one.”

“Yes. That was a new one. We never heard it before.”


There are amusing anecdotes about Confucius, like there are anecdotes about Washington (cherry tree, etc.) and Lincoln. The following is an example.

Confucius and his retinue of students were travelling when they were blocked by an obstacle on the road: a group of urchins were building a toy town of bricks in the middle of the road. The head student went forward to talk to the boys.

“Boys! Make way for our wagons!”

“In all history wagons have gone around cities. Whoever heard of cities making way for wagons?”

“Our master is the famous and wise Confucius. Can you make way?”

The boys still refused, so Confucius himself came forward.

“We are told that you are famous and wise. If you are so smart, can you tell us how many stars are in the sky?”

“The stars are too far away to know.”

“Well then, how many lashes are in front of your eyes?”

Confucius, humbled, bowed to the boys. The students did likewise, including the head student.


Starting in the New Year, my company is establishing a new policy that I think would be a desirable thing for larger corporations to adopt.

On January 6, 2020, each employee is allowed to name his or her own salary. We’re a small company but there’s no reason this should not spread more widely. I would think that a sense of being an important part of a corporation will lead to higher performing and more satisfied people.

I’ll report back to you on the result of this experiment in a couple of months.

(Just so you know, I’ve named mine “Fred”.)


What’s the difference between an onion and an accordion? Nobody cries when you chop up an accordion.


The place where I work has some doors that are controlled by a keypad. So people didn’t have to remember some random pattern they made the combination trivial and asked me to guess the four-digit code. I tried ⍳4 — seemed obvious to me. It was wrong. The code is 1 2 3 4.

[⎕io delenda est! 1-originis delenda est!]


Have you seen this report circulating again on the net? It’s a quote from Nikola Tesla in 1926.

When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do this will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.

I’ve always been a big fan of Tesla and his devotion to numbers divisible by 3 but it’s disappointing how badly he missed the mark with the 1928 quote. I mean, who wears vests these days?


Thanks for the Tesla quote. I have known the sentiments he expressed for some time: My IQ drops about 20 points when I don’t have internet access.


A priest, a pastor, a monk, and a rabbit walked into a bar. The rabbit did a face palm and said, “Wait! I am probably a typo.”

[Compare and contrast with this joke above.]




One of the funnier things I have read recently. From the New York Times (I reworded it somewhat.)

Dr. Konstantin Batygin, a Caltech researcher, went for a run up a hill in Nice, France and spotted a beer bottle. At a steep, 20 degree grade, he wondered why it wasn’t rolling down the hill. He realized there was a breeze at his back holding the bottle in place. Then he had a thought that would only pop into the mind of a theoretical astrophysicist: “Oh! This is how Europa formed.”


President Truman once said, give me a one-armed economist!

Not much of a joke, but that’s the best I can do today.


Sid (86) and Sadie (77), both widowed, have just gotten married.

“Sid,” Sadie calls out sweetly, “Sid, come upstairs and make love to me.”

“Sorry, I can only do one or the other.”


Time for an old joke. What does Silly Billy call his pet leopard? Stripes! Now, what does Silly Jilly call her pet zebra? When my daughter Rachel was about 4 years old I asked her this, in that sequence, and to my gratification she answered without hesitation, Spot!


Here’s a kind of empty array joke:

The container of unsweetened tea claims to have “0 calories per 12 Fl Oz” which means, I guess, that “12 Fl Oz” is the prototypical element.


Two chemists attending their annual conference walked into a bar.

“I’d like to have a glass of H2O please,” says chemist A.

“A glass of what?” says the bartender.

“A glass of H2O. You know, water,” says chemist A.

“Smart-ass chemist,” the bartender mutters under his breath as he pours a glass of water.

“I’d like to have a glass of H2O too, please,” says chemist B.

“OK, you asked for it. A glass of H2O2,” says the bartender.

Chemist B drained his glass and immediately keeled over.


A photon checks into The Atomic Hotel. The front desk asked if it had any luggage. It replied, “No, I’m traveling light.”

The photon was followed by a proton. “Are you sure you have no luggage?” the front desk asked. “Yes, I am positive,” said the proton.

Then a happy electron couple arrived. “You are in luck,” said the hotel clerk, “Our finest state room is available.”

“Sorry, we will need another room in addition. We can’t occupy the same state,” the electrons replied.

Finally, a positron walked in. “Do you have a reservation, sir?” asked the front desk.

“No, I don’t.”

“Well, we only have one room available. I am afraid it is by the elevator and the ice machine, and it’s a bit noisy.”

“That’s OK. I am not negative,” said the positron.


Two atoms are walking down the street. One says, “I lost an electron.”

The other said, “Are you sure?”

The first one said, “Yes, I’m sure.”

I like an ending with a twist.


Werner Heisenberg was driving Erwin Schrödinger and Albert Einstein to a lecture. They were stopped on the highway for speeding.

“Sir, did you know that you were driving at 150 miles per hour?” said the police officer.

“Ach du lieber! Now I am lost,” replied Heisenberg.

The police officer then walked to the back of the car and opened the trunk.

“Did you know you have a dead cat in the trunk?”

Schrödinger replied, “We do now, Dummkopf!”

Einstein, worried that Heisenberg was lost, piped up from the back seat: “Is New York still stopping at this car?”


There once was a cat named Un-Deux-Trois. One day, the Un-Deux-Trois cat jumped into the lake. What happened to this cat? The Un-Deux-Trois cat sank, ceased to exist did he.


There is altogether too much loose talk that π can not be represented exactly in the computer. To refute such talk, I propose a newvariable, ⎕base . The current design permits two possible settings:

    ⎕base←10     ⍝ numbers will be base 10, as now
    ⎕base←'pi'   ⍝ numbers will be base π

With the base-'pi' setting, many expressions which give unsightly inexact answers in base-10 will give exact answers.


   sin ○1
   cos ○÷2
   cos ○3÷2


   sin ⊂1 0
   cos ⊂0.5 0
   cos ⊂1.5 0

One can imagine other settings for ⎕base . With that, we will be able to say, all your base are belong to us.

Proposed 2021-04-01.


What is the difference between roast beef and pea soup? Anybody can roast beef.

Bonus grammar lesson: any noun can be verbed.

Compiled and edited by Roger Hui.

created:  2020-05-29 13:50
updated:2021-08-14 16:20