Jokes and age seem to correlate to the same time line. In grade school one learns jokes like "Why is 6 afraid of 7? Because 7, 8, 9!" Most kids on the playground know all the innocent jokes. Yet there's always one kid, the one with an older brother or sister, who tells advanced jokes like "What's grosser than gross? Drinking a bloody Mary and finding a string." A world-wise eight year-old might actually get the meaning behind the joke but most, I'd suspect, would just laugh because they know it's supposed to be gross and funny.
I remember my friend Scooter's dad telling us a joke well beyond our comprehension when we were in the 4th Grade. It went a little something like this:
A car with two gay men breaks down on the side of the road. Unable to fix it they wave down a big semi truck passing by.
"We're in need of a ride" on of the gay guys says, "Can you take us to the nearest gas station?"
"Sure, get on in" says the driver.
Down the road one of the gay guys whispers to the other, "I need to fart."
The other gay guy whispers back, "Well go ahead. But ask the driver first."
"Do you mind if I pass some gas?" asked the gay guy.
"Nah, go right ahead" replied the truck driver.
Wooosh, farts the gay guy.
A little while later the other gay guy needs to break wind.
"Geez, now I've got to pass some gas, do you guys mind?"
"Nah" replied the trucker driver and the other gay guy.
So he passed his gas: Wooosh.
Not much later the truck driver said, "Ah hell guys-- I've got to let one rip. Either of you care?"
"No, go right ahead" the gays say in unison.
So the truck driver adjusted himself in his seat and let a thunderous one out: THURUPPPPPPPPPPPPPPTTTTTTTTFFFFFF!
The gay guys looked at one another and exclaimed, "Mmm, a virgin!"
Now in the 4th Grade I assumed that a gay man could tell if someone was a virgin by smelling a fart. As if gays possessed some sort of vomeronasal organ like a reptile that sensed out queerness. And that's why I laughed at such a crude joke. It wasn't until a couple years later when I heard the joke again I realized it was about anal sex and subsequent loss of sphincter tone.
My mom once told me one of my all time favorite jokes when I was in high school. She said, "How do you get a dog to stop humping your leg?"
"I don't know. How?"
"Pick him up and suck his dick!"
I flat out fell over laughing. The joke in itself is shocking but for my mother to have told it to me-- well that was pure icing.
A couple days ago I was shopping for cards and I came across an import from the UK. Buying it got me a weird look from the cashier who didn't even know his store sold cards with such content.
But I couldn't resist picking it up for nostalgia's sake. This was the first joke I told a bunch of 4th Graders when I was conducting an experiment on advancing a nine year-olds sense of humor well beyond her years.
I was twenty-one years-old and at a Tupperware party hosted by one of my friends. I was the only guy going to the party so I made my sister come along with me as support. As Dafydd from Little Britain can attest to, "It's hard being the only gay in the village" especially when you're not out to everyone in the village.
I suspect the Tupperware party was like countless others. Except this one had lots of boozes being served in order to get the gals loose with their checkbooks. The party was being hosted at Dee's house, my friend Melody's aunt. Dee was in her early forties. She had two 4th grade daughters, one biological and the other was her husband's daughter from a previous marriage. The girls had one of their best friends over. They didn't participate in the Tupperware sales pitch but they were hanging around the house.
While most of the ladies were in the kitchen placing orders my sister and I relaxed in the living room. I was working on finishing my fifth wine cooler (oh the days of wine coolers) when I overheard the girls telling what they thought were naughty jokes.
Now previously my sister and I had hypothesized about the Joke/Age Continuum. You see we came to the conclusion that if either of us were to advance a young persons comedic skills with a joke so horrific it would make Andrew Dice Clay blush, comedy as we know it would be torn into little bits and humor would leave the world. But it wouldn't be like Scooter's dad-- because the joke we'd tell would be pretty straight forward for even a nine year-old to understand.
As I sat there in my Bartles & Jaymes induced stupor I laughed towards my sister, "Should I tell them a joke?"
My sister said, "Sure."
"Hey girls-- want to hear a really dirty joke?" I inquired.
"Heck yes!" They almost sang in unison.
"I don't know-- I could get in a lot of trouble for telling you a bad joke."
"Come on," the leader of the girls said. "Just tell us."
"Ok, but you all have to swear never to tell it to your parents. And you can never tell anyone who told it to you. Do you all swear?"
"Ok, how do you get a dog to stop humping your leg?"
The girls squirmed in disgust. "Eww. How?"
"Pick it up and suck it's dick."
The girls all stuck out their tongues in disapproval as I doubled over laughing.
The leader of the girls asked for me to tell another one.
"Nah, the only other one I know is way too disgusting to tell fourth-graders."
"Ahh, come on. We won't tell anyone. We promise."
I looked at my sister who just sat there stone faced-- she wasn't going to indulge me one bit.
"Do you think I should tell them that joke?"
"Pff-- tell them if you want."
"Nah, I can't tell you guys. It's just too terrible. Really too terrible."
That piqued their interest. "Tell us" they begged.
"Ok-- but you better NEVER tell any adult this. Alright, so there's this six year-old girl who wanders into her parents' bathroom. Her father is taking a shower. She asks him 'Daddy, what's that between your legs?'
"Her dad says, 'Honey this is a penis'.
"She asks, 'Daddy, when will I have one of those between my legs?'
"Her dad pokes his head out of the shower and looks around. He whispers 'Five minutes after your mother leaves.'"
It was right then I knew I had crossed the line. There was no going back. The girls just sat there stunned. Then they started laughing. But I knew I had, well, sort of fucked with their innocence.
"You guys better never tell anyone that joke. If you do they'll be pissed!"
"We promise we won't" the leader assured me.
My sister went and got me another drink, I needed it. By this time Dee had wandered into the living room and taken up residence in one of the lounge chairs. She was three sheets to the wind as it seemed almost everyone else was.
Her daughter went over to her and said, "Hey mom, I've got a joke."
I froze. My heart stopped beating. I shot her the look of death but she just smiled at me.
"Lay it on me!" Dee encouraged her.
I leaned over to my sister, who was now sitting next to me and whispered, "I'm fucking dead."
Her daughter started telling the joke. "There's a six year-old girl who walked into her parents' bathroom".
My heart started beating again and it was all I could hear. I didn't even attempt to get up and leave the room. I knew this was the end for me. You see the Joke/Age Continuum wasn't going to rip apart as I thought-- nay, I was going to be ripped apart at the hands of these girl's parents.
She started in on the punchline "five minutes after your mother leaves."
I let out a large gulp.
Dee's eyes widened so far I could see straight into her fuming brain. She sobered up instantly, rage descending on her face and she yelled, "That's fucking disgusting. Who told you that fucking joke?"
My life flashed before my eyes. I was ready to go.
The daughter's index finger was ready to point me out. Dee sank back into her chair. Her body began shaking. She let out a guttural laugh that shook the house. "It's fucking hilarious!"
Never had I felt so relieved. The daughter just sort of looked at me and smirked as her other fingers unclenched. I took that as my cue to leave. My sister and I got up and she drove me home.
That was the last day I ever told a joke to anyone under the age of 25. Kids don't need dirty joke advancement-- in today's world they'll get there soon enough without my interference.