What's a Henway?

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search

About 2-3 pounds! Duh!

Alice is babbling on about something to Bob, when all of a sudden, she says something that so completely baffles him that he has to ask what it is - for example, "And then, of course, I summoned a Henway." When Bob asks about the unfamiliar term, Alice looks at him like he's crazy and tells him the punchline of the quite obvious joke, making him look silly in the process.

Also known as a "Pun Trap". The best way to subvert the standard form if someone tries it on you in Real Life is to ask "What's that?"[1] Another subversion is not to ask any question, but say instead: "Define "henway"."

A favourite of the Pungeon Master, and of anyone else who has had a bit too much snoo or updog lately.

Just about any Knock-Knock Joke is a Henway.

Compare Mathematician's Answer, Not Actually the Ultimate Question, Rhetorical Question Blunder.

Examples of What's a Henway? include:


Advertising[edit | hide | hide all]

  • At 4:32 Fozzie Bear recycles bottles, cans, paper and snoo. Then he lampshades the trope at the end.


Anime[edit | hide]

Ichirin: Dr. Tsukumo!
Susumu: What is it, Ichirin?
Ichirin: *camera reveals he has a TV with him* It's a television. Now look at it!


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Averted and mentioned in one Josie and the Pussycats story, Alex Cabot III is kidnapped and held for ransom while the band is at a gig in Greece. As part of the ransom, the payment has to be delivered in an urn. The girls go to a shop, and once they are given one by the shopkeeper...

Clerk: And if you say, "What's a Grecian urn" there will be war between our countries!!
Melody: (Confused) But, I wasn't...

  • One strip of Thrud the Barbarian had the central character (recast against type as a Renaissance fop) taking a barstool in ye medieval tavern and saying to the next guy along:

Thrud: I say, my fellow - have you done your chores?
Next Guy: Eh? What chores?
Thrud: Mine's a pint - cheers!

  • Batman uses the Henway joke in order to defeat a telepathic cyclops, in Batman Odyssey.

Film -- Animated[edit | hide]

Pumbaa: Hakuna Matata is our motto.
Simba: What's a motto?
Timon: Nothing! What's-a motto with you?

    • Another example comes in one of the short series, Around the World with Timon and Pumbaa.

Timon: (holding up an empty coat-hanger) Here, hold this sarong.
Pumbaa: What sarong?
Timon: Nothing, what's-a wrong with you?

  • In Rango, the townsfolk explore a cave that one character explains is a dried-up aquifer, which leads to the exchange:

"What's an aquifer?"
"Well... it's fer aqua!"


Film[edit | hide]

  • The Chevy Chase/Dan Aykroyd movie Spies Like Us includes the following exchange when the two hear a strange loud noise:

Aykroyd: It's a dikfer!
Chase: What's a dikfer?
Aykroyd: To pee with.

Witness: Striker was the squadron leader. He brought us in real low. But he couldn't handle it.
Prosecutor: Buddy couldn't handle it. Was Buddy one of your crew?
Witness: Right. Buddy was the bombardier. But it was Striker who couldn't handle it, and he went to pieces.
Prosecutor: Andy went to pieces?
Witness: No. Andy was the navigator. He was all right. Buddy went to pieces. It was awful how he came unglued.
Prosecutor: Howie came unglued?
Witness: Oh, no. Howie was a rock, the best tailgunner in the outfit. Buddy came unglued.
Prosecutor: And he bailed out?
Witness: No. Andy hung tough. Buddy bailed out. How he survived, it was a miracle.
Prosecutor: Then Howie survived?
Witness: No, 'fraid not. We lost Howie the next day.
Prosecutor: Over Macho Grande?
Witness: No. I don't think I'll ever get over Macho Grande. Those wounds run...pretty deep.

Groucho: Well, whaddya say, girls? Are we [three] all gonna get married?
Mrs. Whitehead: All of us?
Groucho: All of us!
Whitehead: But that's bigamy!
Groucho: Yes, and it's big o' me, too. It's big of all of us, let's be big for a change.

    • From the same film: when the millionare tells Groucho that he's going to Uruguay Groucho responds, "Well, you go Uruguay and I'll go mine."
    • Chico would often stumble into these entirely by accident, leading to his asserting that "There ain't no Sanity Clause" and requesting "a nice cold glass eliminate". (That's-a some joke, eh, boss?)
    • In Cocoanuts, going over a map, Groucho indicates a land tract is near a viaduct. Chico responds, "I don't know, why a duck?" Why A Duck? is a popular Marx scene, and the phrase was used as the title of the Marx Brothers' film concordance.
  • Elvira, Mistress of the Dark is a Hurricane of Puns, but one of the most memorable is after the titular character has hit her head on a movie marquee:

"How's your head?"
"Well, I've never had any complaints..."

Kermit: Gonzo! What are you doing?
Gonzo: About seven knots!

Pita: "What's your girlfriend's name?"
Creasy: "Nunya."
Pita: "Nunya?"
Creasy: "Nun-ya-business"

How much Keefe is in this movie anyway?
Miles O' Keefe!

Norm: "Ringo, what are you up to?"
Ringo: (peering from magazine) "Page five."

Old Fred: Say, what would your friends be doing here?
Ringo: Displayin'.
Old Fred: Displayin' what?
Ringo: Displayin' around.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In the novel Fallen Angels by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Michael Flynn, an astrophysicist goes to torturous lengths to include the abbreviation SNU (meaning "Solar Neutrino Unit", and pronounced "snew") into a conversation, just so the person he is talking to can ask "What's SNU?" The inevitable response is "Nothing much. What's new with you?"
    • The same "joke" was in Pogo, with much less setup, starting off, "That's got a lotta snoo to it, boy," and continuing as above.
    • Hawkeye set up the same joke in an episode of Mash, when while doing minor surgery he asked the nurse for "snoo".
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:

They passed a yellow door on which it said: STOREROOM NUMBER 77--ALL THE BEANS, CACAO BEANS, COFFEE BEANS, JELLY BEANS, AND HAS BEANS.
"Has beans?" cried Violet Beauregarde.
"You're one yourself!" said Mr. Wonka. "There's no time for arguing! Press on, press on!"

  • In the Callahans Crosstime Saloon story "Two Heads are Better Than One", Jake regales the bar's patrons with a tall tale of his illustrious ancestor Grandfather Stonebender, who "built the pyramids, freed the slaves, cured yaws!" When Mike Callahan gamely asked, "What's yaws?", Jake answered, "Why thanks, Mike, I'll have a beer."
  • In Good Omens, Newt tried to set up a Pun Trap by naming his (alleged) car Dick Turpin, after a highwayman. He always hoped someone would ask him why it was named Dick Turpin, so that he could say "Because everywhere I go, I hold up traffic."
  • In The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, the mad girl Auri lives in the space beneath the Arcanum, which she calls "the Underthing." When Kvothe asks her to show him around, intending to sneak into the library, she feigns shock at his audacity in asking to see her Underthing.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Subverted in Red Dwarf. When Lister is told of an item called a wormdo, instead of asking "What's a wormdo?" ("Wriggles along the ground, of course!"), he derails the joke by asking, "What's that then?"
    • And it just goes straight downhill from there.

Rimmer: Would you like a wormdo?
Lister: What's that, then?
Rimmer: What's what?
Lister: A wormdo?
Rimmer: What about it?
Lister: Look, is this still the opening line?

  • On The Daily Show, when a senator made an addition to a bill, another added a "but-for" clause that said the other one couldn't add his. Jon Stewart then said he responded by asking for a ban on all "dickfores".
  • Subverted nicely on Scrubs, with this exchange:

JD: Now I don't want you to worry, because your procedure is being performed by Dr. Dahman.
Patient: Who's Dr. Dahman?
JD: No, no...say that again, but without the doctor.
Patient: Who's Mr. Dahman?
JD: No no, just say the last name.
Patient: Who's Dahman?
JD: I'M DAH MAN! That was fun...it was fun, uh, doing that with you.

    • In another episode, a variant occurs.

Doug: Stringent what?
JD: Stringent "updoc". (quickly turns to Turk) It's happening.
Doug: What's updoc?

    • And in another episode where the janitor accuses J.D. of stealing toilet paper:

JD: I don't use toilet paper. I have one of those French things that shoot water up your butt.
Janitor: A bidet?
JD: Bidet to you, sir.

  • The Office has Jim introduce Mike to this concept with the following joke. However, whenever Mike tries this on somebody else, they fail to respond properly. Eventually Dwight answers right, but Mike botches the joke anyway.

Jim: This place smells like updog.
Mike: What's updog?
Jim: Not much, what's up with you?

    • And then Michael's attempt after trying on 7 other people...

Michael: This place smells like updog.
Dwight: What's updog?
Michael: Ha! Ha haha! Um... how are you?
Dwight: I'm fine, how are you?
Michael: Fine...

"You know, microbreweries are the second fastest-growing industry in America, right behind butfores."
"What's a butfore?"
"If you don't know, you'd better stop eating!"

Crow: Hey, Joel, what's a Herringway?
Joel: About a pound...

Doctor: If the thraskin puts his fingers in his ears, it is polite to shout! That's an old Venusian proverb.
Jo: Well, what's a thraskin?
Doctor: Thraskin? Oh, it's an archaic word, seldom used since the twenty-fifth dynasty. The modern equivalent is "plinge".
Jo: What does "plinge" mean?
Doctor: Oh, for heaven's sake, Jo; I've just told you. It means "thraskin".

  • You can pretty much make a drinking game out of this trope watching Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In and Hee Haw (same thing, different demographic; that's actually the only enjoyable way to watch these shows, as even the actors would admit.)
  • Murray from Flight of the Conchords is a constant source of these when it comes to artists and albums:

Murray: Look; when you're in a band, you don't get with your bandmate's girlfriend - past or present. ... You get a love triangle, you know? Fleetwood Mac situation. ... Well there- there was four of them, so more of a love square-- but you know; no one gets on. Mind you, they did make some of their best music back then.
Bret (nodding his head): "Rumours".
Murray: No, no. It's all true.

    • Also

Bret: Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall".
Murray: I'll say he is...he's off the planet. Wants to freeze himself, doesn't he?

    • Plus, after Bret has written a song dissing other rappers:

Murray: Who were these people you were dissing? The only one I could make out was Snoopy-- what's your problem with him?
Bret: No, Snoop Dogg.
Murray:I know he's a dog, Bret. I'm not totally in the dark ages. I do go out every once in a while. He's lovable! Leave him alone.

  • UK Comedy The Fast Show had character Arthur Atkinson do a whole sequence of these in the mock Hee Haw sketches parodying old music-hall comedies. The gags always involved corny sound effects like a slidewhistle, pie-in-face gags, or corny wordplay, such as:

Announcer: "This first story involves Arthur Atkinson, and he's not feeling himself."
Arthur: "And I'm not feeling anyone else neither, before you ask."
[cut to shot of audience cracking up]

  • One in Spanish: The Mexican comedian Chespirito had a character, the old and crotchety Doctor Chapatín. The doctor always carried a paper bag which would never play any part whatsoever in the plot, except to punch whoever dared to say that he was old (this happened Once an Episode). But once, his nurse and one patient asked him directly about the paper bag and he finally answered: "Tengo queles" "¿Queles?" "Qué les importa" (that could be roughly translated as "It's nunya." "Nunya?" "Nunya business").
  • The radio and television versions of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy have this exchange:

Arthur: "You know, it's at times like this, when I'm trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young."
Ford: "Why? What'd she tell you?"
Arthur: [Exasperated] "I don't know, I wasn't listening!"

  • In the Mash episode "Where There's a Will, There's a War", Hawkeye fondly recalls (via flashback) a time when the usually-humorless Margaret Houlihan started rattling off a whole bunch of these with him while taking inventory in the supply hut:

Hawkeye: Sulfa...where's the sulfa?
Margaret: The sulfa's in the living room.
Hawkeye: What?
Margaret: The sulfa's in the living room. Between the end tables.
Hawkeye: (astonished) Margaret, you told a joke!
Margaret: I'm tired.
Hawkeye: "The sulfa's in the living room." (starts laughing) I can't believe you said that!
Margaret: (laughing now, too) I told you I was tired!
Hawkeye: No, I love it! Somebody's finally been messing with your funny bone! Okay, sulfa...we got plenty.
Margaret: Sulfa so good. (starts laughing again) Morphine.
Hawkeye: No, thanks, I got plenty. (They both crack up, then start to compose themselves.) Digitalis?
Margaret: No, I'm keeping it a secret. (They both lose it for good.)

  • From Friends, although here Joey's being dumb rather than deliberately funny:

Rachel: See? Unisex.
Joey: Maybe you need sex. I had sex a few days ago.
Rachel: No, Joey, U-N-I sex.
Joey: Well, I wouldn't say no to that...

    • And then Joey misunderstands a real word to set this up:

Monica: Hey Joey, what would you do if you were omnipotent?
Joey: I'd probably kill myself!
Monica: Excuse me?
Joey: Hey, if little Joey's dead, then I got no reason to live.
Ross: Joey, uh, OMNIpotent.
Joey: You are?! Ross, I had no idea. I thought it was like a theoretical question, y'know?

    • There's also the new age doctor who tells Ross he has a "cundis".

Ross: What's a 'cundis'?
Doctor: Nuthin', what's a cundis with you?

  • In the Season 3 Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Gingerbread", Buffy laments that she doesn't think anything she does makes a lasting difference, but at least she finally understands something that's baffled her for years.

Buffy: I'm like the boy in that story, the one who stuck his finger in the duck.
Angel: Dike.
Buffy: (confused look)
Angel: (chuckles) It's another word for dam.
Buffy: Oh. Okay, that story makes a lot more sense now.

  • Skins did one of these in the S3 opener.

Effy: It's inexplicable, Pandora.
Pandora: Yeah, inexplicable. *beat* What does inexplicable mean, Eff?
Effy: Can't explain.
Pandora: [dismayed] Alright, suit yourself then.

Fozzie: I didn't know you were a talking snowman.
Snowman: Actually, I'm a snooman.
Fozzie: What's a snooman?
Snowman: Nothing. What's a snoo with you?
...
Fozzie: Ah, Christmas. Time for Santa Claus and his eight prancing reinbear.
Snowman: That's reindeer.
Fozzie: No. That's snow, darling!

    • Also from The Muppet Show, when Fozzie coerces Kermit to feed him the line, "Good grief, the comedian's a bear!" Fozzie answers, "No he's-a not, he's-a wearin' a neck-a-tie!"
      • "Do you like Kipling?" "I don't know; I've never kippled."
  • In one episode of Taxi; Jim Ignatowski was taking his driving test, leading to this classic gag:

Jim: What does a yellow light mean?
Bobby: Slow down.
Jim: Okay. What...does...a...yellow...light...mean?
Bobby: Slow down.
Jim: Okay. OK. Wwwwhhhaaaat dooeesss aaaa yyyeeeellllowwww lllliiiight mmmmeeeannn?

    • In another episode, Latka Gavis leads Louie dePalma—possibly unintentionally—right into one of these:

Louie: What's this?
Latka: It's a kebble.
Louie: What's a kebble?
Latka: 110 kebble make a lithnitch.
Louie: What's a lithnich?
Latka: 270 lithnich make a matta.
Louie: What's a matta?
Latka: I don't know, what's a matta with you?

  • On That's My Bush!, Larry, George W. Bush's wacky neighbor, would use one of these almost Once an Episode.
    • In one episode, someone else gives the punchline instead (responding to "Stardoo" with "It twinkles!"), making him very, very angry.
    • Larry also did the "Hindu" punchline, though unenthusiastically, when George in fact asked him what a Hindu was.
    • Subverted in one episode where spies tunneled to the White House:

Larry: Say, George, there's a hole dug in your front porch.
George: I get it, Larry. I'm supposed to say, "What's a hole dug?" Ha ha.

Will: That's dis.
Carlton: I don't care if it's dis, dat or the other thing!

John: You have a daughter, I believe?
Peter: Yeah. Yeah, Henrietta.
John: Did he, did he, I'm sorry to hear that.

  • In one episode of Blackadder, Baldrick is running for office and tells his boss he thinks his first name is "Sodoff", because all the other kids used to say "Sod off, Baldrick!" Blackadder notes him down as "S. Baldrick". Later Edmund is interviewed.

Interviewer What does the S stand for?
Blackadder Sodoff.
Interviewer Yes, I guess it's really none of my business...

  • Crime Story - at a block party cookout, Polish cop Krychek is quizzing black cop Clemmons on Polish food. When he gets to garachki Clemmons is stumped - turns out it's what you use to open a garage door.
  • Corner Gas: In "Crab Apple Cooler":

Lacey: We could play euchre.
Oscar: Euchre? I hardly know 'er!
Lacey: Or Twister.
Oscar: Twister? I just met 'er!
Lacey: Or maybe we could just play charades.
Oscar: Charades? Ha ha... I hate charades!
Emma: Charades it is.
Lacey: Good thing I didn't say "poker."

Dina: ...It's something 4 out of 5 doctors recommend.
Telly: Which doctors?
Dina: Exactly, witch doctors...

  • A Monty Python's Flying Circus example: in the "Black Magic Police" sketch, when a reporter dramatically asks, "Just what are the police up to?", an especially stupid-looking cop looks up from a book he's reading and answers, "Oh, I'm up to page 39, where Peter Pan first manifests himself."
    • Also, the two pepperpots turn to alternative entertainment after Radio 4 explodes:

Pepperpot #1: Oh, dear. The radio's exploded.
Pepperpot #2: Well, what's on the television, then?
Pepperpot #1: Looks like a penguin.
Pepperpot #2: No, I didn't mean what was on the TV set. I meant what programme.

  • Not surprisingly, Police Squad! was built on this trope. The most famous example:

Det. Frank Drebin: Wait a minute, let me get this straight: Twice came in and shot the teller and Jim Fell.
Sally Decker: No, he only shot the teller, Jim Johnson. Fell is ill.
Drebin: Okay, then after he shot the teller, you shot Twice.
Sally: No, I only shot once.
Capt. Ed Hocken: Twice is the hold up man.
Sally: Then I guess I did shoot Twice.
Drebin: Oh, so now you're changing your story.
Sally: No, I shot Twice after Jim fell.
Drebin: You shot twice and Jim Fell?
Sally: No, Jim fell first and then I shot Twice once.
Drebin: Well, who fired twice?
Sally: Once!
Capt. Hocken: He's the owner of the tire company, Frank.
Drebin: [pauses] Okay. Once is the owner of the tire company and he fired Twice. Then Twice shot the teller once.
Sally: Twice.
Drebin: ...and Jim fell and then you fired Twice.
Sally: Once!
Drebin: Okay. All right, that will be all for now, Ms. Decker.
Capt. Hocken: We'll need you to make a formal statement down at the station.
Sally: Oh, of course!
Drebin: You've been very helpful. We think we know how he did it.
Sally: Oh, Howie couldn't have done it. He hasn't been in for weeks.
Drebin: Well. [pauses] Thank you again, Ms. Decker.
Drebin: [to Capt. Hocken] Weeks?
Capt. Hocken: Saul Weeks. He's the comptroller, Frank.

  • Later, as they're arresting Sally, Capt. Hocken addresses two cops standing nearby.

Capt. Hocken: Sergeants, take her away and book her.
Drebin: [addressing each officer as if introduced] "Sergeant Takeraway, Sergeant Booker."

  • In The Nanny episode "My Fair Nanny", as Fran is trying to pass herself off as cultured at a party:

Maureen Wentworth: (observing a sculpture) What a lovely artifact. Is it Mayan?
Fran: No, it's his-en.


Magazines[edit | hide]

  • In the Mad Star Wars Musical parody, the Jawa selling Artoo tells Luke that it had a minor accident around a nearby star.

Luke: Sirius?
Jawa: Naaah, just a few dents.

    • An earlier parody of Mark Trail had Mark pointing to a very familiar-looking cartoon rabbit, claiming that it "very frequently eats updok." The rabbit, in between bites of carrot, says, "What's updok?"


Music[edit | hide]

  • Barenaked Ladies did this in "Pinch Me":

I could hide out under there
I just made you say underwear!

    • They also did it in "Raisins":

When I make mistakes, I use a lot of salt
Cuz salt makes my steaks taste great


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • FoxTrot occasionally dabbled in this early in the strip's run. One example is an arc where Paige tries to weasel her way out of a Macbeth book report:

Paige: What's Macbeth about?
Andrea: It's about 100 pages. Now get going.

    • Another, from a 1990 Sunday strip:

Jason: Man -- this is one cold house.
Paige: Tell me about it.
Jason: Well, let's see... It's got two stories, it's white with green trim, it's got four bedrooms...

    • Another from the same era:

Peter: Hey Paige -- if the kitchen's in the house and Diana's in the kitchen, what's in Diana?
Paige: I dunno. What?
Peter: A state.

    • And another:

Paige: What's on the TV?
Jason: The VCR... a couple of magazines... dad's bowling trophy... probably a thin layer of dust, too.

  • Pearls Before Swine also loves this trope, including a character who says he's "Justin from Chicago," which causes Pig to become confused when Justin says he's been in town for six months.
  • Pogo also used this regularly, including in the Fractured Christmas Carol "Good King Sauerkraut"

Good King Sauerkraut, look out!
On his feets uneven
Whilst the snoo lay round a bout
"What's snoo?"

  • In the strip Adam, Adam's kids set up a lemonade stand. When someone asked, "Do you serve Arnold Palmer?", they answered, "We serve anyone. What'll ya have?" [3]


Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]

  • On one episode of Raw (or maybe Smackdown) a detective demanded to know Road Dogg's name. He said, "First name 'Deez'. D-E-E-Z. Last name...'Balls'. B-A..."


Radio[edit | hide]

  • The Goon Show makes a similar joke about "hendus".

Weatherman: "Gale force hendus are sweeping in from the East. That is the end of the hendu warning."
Seagoon: "Pardon me, but what's a hendu?"
Greenslade: "It LAYS EGGS!"
Seagoon: "And you say they're blowing from the East?"
Greenslade: "Yes."
Seagoon: "Stand by for Easter Eggs!"

  • Hello Cheeky took great delight in giving subversions or variations on the old "Jamaica?" gag.

Tim: You know, the other day I was walking through the town, and I overheard two women speaking. One of them said "My husband's gone to the West Indies," and the second one said "Jamaicim?"...and the first one hit her.

    • Or this exchange, taking place in the West Indies:

John: My wife has gone to England.
Tim: London?
John: No, she went of her own accord. ...It's not working...


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • From the play Shiek, Rattle and Roll:

"Who's Muhammad?"
"He was a Muslim, I think. Or a Hindu."
"What's a Hindu?"
"Scratches around in the dirt and lays eggs. Get it?"

Major General: "When you say "orphan", do you mean a person who's lost his parents, or often-frequently?"
Pirate King: "Oh! I see what you mean. Frequently!"
Major General: "Ah! You said often-frequently!"
Pirate King: [getting irked] "No, only once."
Major General: "Exactly! You said often-frequently only once!" (bursts into song)


Web Comics[edit | hide]

Milton: "Screwed", Jack.
Jack: I'd say.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

Buster: I can't marry all three of them, that's bigamy!
Pa Gator: No, that's big-a me!
Rimshot

  • "Drool, the Dog-faced Goblin," an episode of The Real Ghostbusters, contains one: At one point, our heroes are suddenly caught in a hailstorm. The hail then changes, leading to a set-up line that inspires Ray to do his best impression of Chico Marx:

Egon: This isn't hail. This is hominy grits!
Ray: Okay, boss, I'll-a bite. How-many-grits a' you think-a we see?

Mole: Did you get ze mirror?
Stan: Got it.
Mole: And ze rope?
Stan: Check.
Mole: And ze buttfor?
Kyle: What's a buttfor?
Mole: For pooping, silly. *lights and drags on a smoke, presumably celebrating a well-laid trap*

  • On The Simpsons Spinoff Showcase, they welcomed special guest Tim Conway! Part of the joke here is that Conway's estimate is way off.

Homer: What's a Tim Conway?
Tim Conway: About 120 pounds.

"I caught my wife in bed with my best friend."
"You bitter?"
"Yep. Bit him, too!"

    • When Marge attempts to purchase a protective cup for Bart, the guy behind the counter feigns ignorance until she frustratedly spells it out: "C-U-P. I wanna C-U-P".
    • On Four Great Women and a Manicure:

Homer: Armada? What's armada?
Moe: Nothing. What's a matter with you?

    • Bart's prank phone calls to Moe's Tavern in the early seasons were all about this. He'd ask Moe to page such improbably-named patrons as Al Coholic, Amanda Hugandkiss, I.P. Freely, Bea O'Problem, Oliver Clothesoff, Hugh Jass, etc.
      • That last one (Hugh Jass) turns out to be a real person who was in the bar at the time.

Bart: Uh, look, I'll level with you, mister. This is a crank call that sorta back-fired, and I'd like to bail out right now.
Hugh Jass: All right. Better luck next time. *Hangs up* What a nice young man.

Ratso: What's a Babylonian urn?
Finn: Probably more than we do!

  • Arthur does the traditional version in one episode, with a race to the ice-cream place: "Last one there is a henway!" And then after arriving:

"You're last, Arthur. You're a henway!"
"What's a henway?"
"About 5 pounds."

  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang is looking for an Earthbending teacher, and hears about an event called Earth Rumble 6. Asking a couple of local losers about it, he gets told it's on the island of "Nunya". What makes them lose is that, aside from Katara beating the answer out of them afterward, one of them jumps the line and answers the question before it's asked: "Nunya business!"
  • Comes up twice in one conversation in the Sushi Pack episode "Where No Truth Lies." First, when the Sushi Pack ask Officer Flume "What do you have?" (meaning the crime) and she replies, "Oh, it's nothing, just a little cold." She then tells them about The Prevaricator, who made off with the mayor's prized collection:

Officer Flume: Anyway, go up to the ski lodge and talk to him.
Kani: The Prevaricator?
Officer Flume: No, the mayor.

    • Comes up again, when the Pack talks to the proprietress of a small cafe. She tells them that The Prevaricator lives just up the road, but "it's a slippery slope," which the Pack take literally, so she replies that she was talking about The Prevaricator himself.
  • When Danger Mouse is introduced to Egregious M. Murphy, he naturally asks "What's the 'M' for?" Murphy explains that the M4 is a motorway that goes to Wales."
  • In a sing-along host segment of The Beatles cartoon, Ringo is taking diction lessons:

Ringo: I was practicing the exercise in this book. It teaches you how to pronunciate good like an Englishman should.
Paul: (agitated) The word is "enunciate!" "E!" "E!" "E!!" Don't you know the King's English?
Ringo: I know the Queen is!

Officer #1: I want you to look in every corner! Search every highway, freeway, henway...
Officer #2: What's a henway?
Officer #3: Oh, about three punds.


Other[edit | hide]

  • Popular Internet joke, usually involving Christian Bale's Batman and Heath Ledger's Joker:

Joker: "It smells like updog in here."
Batman: "What's updog?"
Joker: "Nothing much, you?"

  • Cole's Law: Thinly sliced cabbage, with mayonnaise and carrots.
  • Harry Potter joke:

Lupin: Harry, I have to tell you something. I'm a werewolf.
Harry: Are you fucking serious?
Lupin: That too. But don't change the subject.

    • Also:

Ron: Harry, quick! Dumbledore's been in a horrible accident!
Harry: Oh my god! Was it serious!?
Ron: No, it was Snape.

    • The version I heard went something like this:

Harry: Surely you can't be Sirius!
Sirius: I am Sirius, and don't call me Shirley!

SELLERS: Here is a hendu warning. Hendus are raging in sea areas Cromarty firth, fourth, fifth and six. Gale force hendus are sweeping eastward from Iceland, Shetland and the ponies. Further hendus are sweeping in from the east. That is the hend of the endu warning. Tong
SECOMBE: Pardon me Wal, but what’s a hendu?
GREENSLADE: It lays eggs
SECOMBE: And you say they’re blowing from the east?
GREENSLADE: Yes
SECOMBE: Stand by for Easter eggs!


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • A common U.S. Army prank involves calling a novice recruit and tell him to find a first class sergeant and ask him if he has a "pricky-7"... the first class sergeant's rank code is "E-7", and "pricky-7" sounds like "prick E-7". Hilarity Ensues.
    • The setup often works because it exploits the existing naming convention for Army implements. Portable combat radios have designator names starting with "PRC"-such as the PRC-25 and PRC-77 'Nam era backpack rigs, up to the modern PRC-152. Meanwhile, slight modifications of a base unit are designated by adding alphabet-based modification designators somewhere in the item name: example, M16A1 indicates variant A1 of the M16 rifle. EC-130, indicates the E-variant of the C-130 aircraft (with "E" just happening to stand for "electronic", as in "beefed up for extra powerful radio surveillance and jamming gear). Thus, so easy to tell the rookie that you need a portable radio, type 7, modification E. Got that? PRC-E7. Go to the sarge and say you're looking for the PRC-E7.
  • Sending the new guy on a "Snipe Hunt" is a long-standing tradition in the US military, though the exact items specified appear to vary by service. In the Navy, one might be told to go fetch "a can of relative bearing grease" or "a left-handed smoke shifter," and I have even heard of someone being told to get "the spare flagpole." ("Where do they keep it?" "It's in the basement." Aboard ship.) In the Air Force, it might be "fifty meters of flight line." The Army and Marines seem to favor "a box of grid squares."
    • Incidentally, make sure your new Airman didn't have prior service with the Army's Combat Engineers before sending him to get you 50 meters of Flight Line...
      • Alternately, if he used to be in an Air Force Civil Engineering squadron. He might just come back with a dump truck full of the aluminum matting used for temporary runway construction and repair.
    • Back in the age of propeller-driven aircraft, green recruits would sometimes be asked to fetch a bucket of prop wash.
      • This one is still in use today, with new helicopter mechanics asked to get a bucket of rotor wash.
    • Heaven help the recruit who gets asked to fetch a container of Alpha-One-Romeo (translated from phonetics: A1R...air).
    • The preferred quest on Osan Air Base in South Korea is to have the newbie fill out an ID-10-T form to request some BA-1100-N's with ST-rings.
    • Historically, in the Navy they'd be told to go get the red and green oil for the running lamps, and to go ask the Chief for the key to wind the compass.
    • Red vs. Blue did a take on this in their third episode, with Donut sent to fetch headlight fluid and elbow grease.
  • Scouting has a similar vein of prank to those used in the armed forces. Newly invested Scouts, on camp, are often asked to go and find (or ask for):
    • A long weight. (They ask for it, and are told to go stand in the corner for a while until someone can find it for them).
    • Dry water; for washing without getting wet.
    • Tent-peg holes; because there are too many tent-pegs, so some extra holes are needed to put them in.
    • Sky-hooks; for hooking the tent to the sky so it won't fall down (really, new Scouts fall for that!)
    • A left-handed mallet. Bonus points for using it and missing the peg, then using it in the right hand, hitting the peg, and declaring it's a right-handed mallet and successfully convincing them to go back for another one.
    • Being warned to look out for Adders slithering around the campsite. And also for an equally dangerous type of snake, the Subtractor (like an Adder, but with markings on its skin that look like minus-signs). Bonus points for also passing off the Divider and the Multiplier as snakes; and if you can get them believing in the deadly Exponentiator snake, you've really got a slow bunch of scouts with you...
    • Typically, all these are followed up by asking them to get something that's real, but doesn't immediately *sound* real, thanks to the preceding pranks. Like Heavy Water.
  • In the same vein, sawmills have both board stretchers and sawdust pumps.
  • Another classic example is the hammerfore, which has also been spotted in a Keebler cookie commercial.

Person A: What's a hammerfore?
Person B: Pounding nails in.

  • An ancient joke:

"What's a Grecian urn?"
"About six drachmas an hour."

    • Subverted by The Goon Show, in the episode "The Mighty Wurlitzer":

Grytpype: I thought I saw a Greek urn buried in the sand.
Moriarty: What's a Greek earn?
Grytpype: It's a vase made by Greeks for carrying liquids.
Moriarty: I didn't expect that answer.
Grytpype: Neither did quite a few smart-alec listeners.

    • Another (sub?)version of it appeared in Private Eye when financial crisis hit Greece:

"What's a Grecian urn?"
"A lot less since he joined the Euro."

  • Another old joke, from a professor:

"You know, I went to Moscow once, did some nice sightseeing. There was this river--what was it called...?"
"Volga?"
"Oh, it was disgusting!"

  • Yet another old joke:

"My wife's gone to the West Indies."
"Jamaica?"
"No, she wanted to go."

    • This one's ascended a bit since the Led Zeppelin song, "D'yer Mak'er." North Americans still tend not to get it, because they don't have the right accent, so they usually pronounce it "dire maker".
    • Done in a Blues round (in calypso form) by I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue:

I woke up dis morning, my wife had gone
To de West Indies for de sun.
Now you is questioning me: Jamaica?
No, Trinidad, with Freddie Laker.

    • Weird Al Yankovic used a variant of this as the repeated "fade out" line at the end of "Wanna B Ur Lovr":

Girl, you must be Jamaican, because ja makin' me crazy...

    • Or the alternate version:
    • The folks at RPGMP3.com subverted this one along with some other jokes ("My dog has no nose." "How does he smell?" "He doesn't, he has no nose.") in one of their audio reviews:

My wife's gone to Jamaica.
Of her own accord?

  • And still another old joke:

"I was playing card games with some African natives."
"Zulus?"
"No, I won!"

  • And still another:

I went on vacation to that big city in Switzerland.
Bern?
No, I nearly froze to death!

  • This one works if you have an American and a Brit talking.

"Back home, I used to play a lot of football."
"Oh, you mean soccer?"
"No, I would never hit a girl."

    • Variation used in a recent slapstick comedy

"Up for a game of football?"
"Soccer?"
The original asker then hits the closest woman

"Did you hear about that actress who got stabbed? Reese... Reese something."
"Witherspoon?"
"No, with a knife."

  • A popular nerdy one:

"In High School, my mom dated that physicist guy..."
"Feynman?"
"No, he was a jerk."

Alexander Armstrong: What state is Sarah Palin from?
Paul Merton: Alaska.
Alexander Armstrong: Yeah, would you?
Paul Merton: [Face Palm] ...I'm now permanently associated with that joke.

        • Speaking of which, what city was her office in?
    • John Humphrys got in a good one in the episode he hosted, when Sean Lock asked him about having become a father at a lateish age.

Humphrys: I'm not in the first flush of youth, that's absolutely true... and I do have a three-year-old, that's true.
Lock: What's that like?
Humphrys: [holding his hands a few feet apart] Well, it's about that big...

  • One that can be modified with any word ending in "ing":

"Do you like Kipling?
"I don't know. I never Kippled."

  • Liquor? I 'ardly know 'er!... etc.
    • Rectum? Damn near killed 'em!
    • Person A: Let's play a game! Person B: How about poker? Person A: Poker? I hardly know her! Person B: Facepalm
    • Or, if you're from Maine: Bangah? ("Bangor" pronounced with the Downeast accent.) I hahdly know ah!
    • Gladiator? You bet he was!
  • A political one:

"Nixon was out of the White House one day, making a speech in front of the United Nations. He didn't return until about one in the morning, and wandered into the Oval Office to make a note of something. But as soon as he walks in, he sees his wife sprawled across the desk, completely nude, and right next to her is... what's his name, the Secretary of State."
"Kissinger?"
"No, they were having sex."

  • In Texas Hold'em, the hand Jack-4 is known as a "flat tyre". The joke is reversed in this case, because the punchline is the question ("What's a jack for?") and will only be revealed when someone asks why the hand is given this name.
  • Another one runs roughly like this:

Bob: Alice, I need you to run to the store and get me a mattababe.
Alice: What's a mattababe?
Bob: Nothing. What's the matter with you?

  • One more:

Bob: My sister fell down a flight of stairs.
Alice: Cellar?
Bob: No, she still has some salvageable parts.

  • Can you tell me what nationality Napoleon's parents were?
  • There was this white guy wearing a keffiyeh standing in front of the pissoir in the Dubai airport... I sez to him "You may look like an Arab, but I know you're-ah-peein'!", ha ha ha ha....ew.
  • "Could you pass that [object]?" "Pass it? I couldn't even swallow it ..."
  • A curious non-Scot meeting a man in a kilt:

"Is anything worn under there?"
"It's all in perfect working order, thank you."

  • Australians sometimes pick on New Zealanders with the "What's a Hindu" joke above.
  • "Are you Russian?" "No, I was just walking fast"
  • In chat rooms:

Person A: What does idk mean?
Person B: I don't know.
Person A: No one knows!

    • And:

Person A: What does stfu mean?
Person B: Shut the fuck up.
Person A: Sor-ry, I was just asking...

Bob: He had a certain je ne sais quoi
Alice: What does je ne sais quoi mean?
Bob: "I don't know what"
Alice: Then why did you say it?

  • One used with kids:

Person A: What are you eating under there?
Person B: Under where? (underwear)

  • The Segway PT weighs about eighty pounds. When it was first introduced, many people didn't know what it was, and had to ask.
  • Another joke, getting a bit old now:

"D'you know that racing driver, Niki something?"
"Lauda?"
"I SAID, DO YOU KNOW THAT RACING DRIVER, NIKI SOMETHING?"

    • On a similar note:

Redneck: So, what school did y'all go to?
Yuppie: Yale.
Redneck: WHAT SCHOOL DID Y'ALL GO TO?!

  • "Ugh, I'm got some updoc all over my hair." "What's updoc?"
    • Another variation: *sniff* *sniff* It smells like updog in here.
      • A third variant, as preferred by a teacher of mine in high school: Upsexy.
  • "You have a dickfore on your forehead." "What's a dickfore?"
    • I once knew a fellow who had snew in his blood...
      • S'about time we had snew blood...
  • And there's this one:

Person A: What do you catch a salmon with?
Person B: Salmon bait.
Person A: That's right! What do you catch a cod with?
Person B: Cod bait.
Person A: Right? Now, what do you catch an eyemaster with?
Person B: ...eyemaster bait?

  • In the Michael Lewis Nonfiction book The Big Short, he describes a hedge fund manager named Mike Burry who wrote a proposal for a new fund, "Milton's Opus", dedicated to making a specific kind of trade Burry had developed an interest in. The book continues with a parenthetical:

("The first question was always, 'What's Milton's Opus?'" He'd say, "Paradise Lost," but that usually just raised another question.)

  • The Round Tuit is a key part in many engineering projects.
    • However in Scotland, a Giton Weight can be substituted (Git on wi' it - Get on with it)
  • An inversion comes in this physics joke: when someone asks you 'what's new?', respond 'C over lambda'.[5]

"Juneau." "No, that's why I'm asking."


  1. Beware the Double Subversion: "What's what?" "A Henway." "About 2-3 pounds." "D'oh!"
  2. (pronounced "yours")
  3. Arnold Palmer is a 50/50 blend of lemonade and iced tea, named after the famous golfer.
  4. Corsican.
  5. The speed of light, given by the constant c, divided by the wavelength of a given wave of light, given by the variable lambda (λ), is the frequency of the light wave, given by the variable nu (ν).