An Idiot’s Guide to the Reddit Thread, “What’s the Most Intellectual Joke You Know?”

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
June 28 2013 9:03 AM

An Idiot’s Guide to the Reddit Thread, “What’s the Most Intellectual Joke You Know?”

51502935
You don't have to be Jean-Paul Sartre to get these intellectual jokes.

Photo by AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Some jokes make you feel dumb for laughing at them. (What do you call somebody else’s cheese? Nacho cheese. What do you call a deer with no eyes? I have no idear.) Not so with the ones on a recent Reddit thread sparked by the question, “What’s the most intellectual joke you know?” If anything, the risk with these kinds of jokes is that you’ll feel dumb for not laughing at them. With that in mind, we’ve taken the liberty of annotating a few of our favorites—with the caveat that some of the references are a little hard to explain if you don’t already Noam.  

From user guitartard: “Is it solipsistic in here, or is it just me?”

Advertisement

Why it’s funny: Because if it’s solipsistic in here, it really is just you. Or rather, just me.

From user phattmatt: “Jean-Paul Sartre is sitting at a French cafe, revising his draft of Being and Nothingness. He says to the waitress, "I'd like a cup of coffee, please, with no cream." The waitress replies, "I'm sorry, Monsieur, but we're out of cream. How about with no milk?”

Why it’s funny: Because Sartre believes that an absence of something is still something. Plus, coffee with no milk tastes a lot worse than coffee with no cream.

From user shannman: “Who does Polyphemus hate more than Odysseus? Nobody!”

Why it’s funny: Because Polyphemus doesn’t realize that Odysseus is Nobody.

From user doomwaxer: “Did you hear about the jurisprudence fetishist? He got off on technicality.”

Why it’s funny: It forms a wry commentary on the brokenness of the justice system.

From user android47: “A programmer's wife tells him: ‘Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.’ The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.”

Why it’s funny: Because the programmer accurately evaluated his wife’s Boolean condition.

From user Arcadian 5656: “A biologist, a chemist, and a statistician are out hunting. The biologist shoots at a deer and misses 5ft to the left, the chemist takes a shot and misses 5ft to the right, and the statistician yells, ‘We got ‘im!’ ”

Why it’s funny: Because it’s mean.

From user suid: “So this classics professor goes to a tailor to get his pants mended. The tailor asks, ‘Euripedes?’ The professor replies, ‘Yes. Eumenides?’ ”

Why it’s funny: Because the two men are not named Euripedes and Eumenides.

From user DrColdReality: “Two women walk into a bar and talk about the Bechdel test.”

Why it’s funny: Because “Bechdel test” is actually the name of a guy the first woman is dating.

From user Saboot: “Werner Heisenberg, Kurt Gödel, and Noam Chomsky walk into a bar. Heisenberg turns to the other two and says, ‘Clearly this is a joke, but how can we figure out if it's funny or not?’ Gödel replies, ‘We can't know that because we're inside the joke.’ Chomsky says, ‘Of course it's funny. You're just telling it wrong.’ ”

Why it’s funny: Because Heisenberg is uncertain, Godel sees that the joke is logically incomplete, and Chomsky is an asshole. I mean, because Chomsky distinguishes between the joke itself and the linguistic performance.

From user disposableaccountass: “Pavlov is sitting at a pub enjoying a pint, the phone rings and he jumps up shouting, ‘Oh shit, I forgot to feed the dog!’ ”

Why it's funny: It’s not. This joke makes light of animal cruelty. For shame. (Or: Because Pavlov’s dog has him well-trained.)

From user Watch_Closely: “It’s hard to explain puns to kleptomaniacs because they always take things literally.”

Why it’s funny: Because kleptomaniacs always take things, literally. As another Reddit user put it: “I don’t get it, but I’m stealing this one.”

See the original Reddit thread for more, and the comments to Tyler Cowen’s post for still more. And feel free to add your own in the comments below.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Katy Waldman is a Slate staff writer. 

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The End of Pregnancy

And the inevitable rise of the artificial womb.

Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola in New York City

How a Company You’ve Never Heard of Took Control of the Entire Porn Industry

The Hot New Strategy for Desperate Democrats

Blame China for everything.

The Questions That Michael Brown’s Autopsies Can’t Answer

Foreigners

Kiev Used to Be an Easygoing Place

Now it’s descending into madness.

Technology

Don’t Just Sit There

How to be more productive during your commute.

There Has Never Been a Comic Book Character Like John Constantine

Which Came First, the Word Chicken or the Word Egg?

  News & Politics
The Slate Quiz
Oct. 24 2014 12:10 AM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 23 2014 5:53 PM Amazon Investors Suddenly Bearish on Losing Money
  Life
Outward
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM Why Is an Obscure 1968 Documentary in the Opening Credits of Transparent?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 24 2014 8:19 AM Online Misogyny Levels Up as Gamergate Targets Gawker
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 6:55 PM A Goodfellas Actor Sued The Simpsons for Stealing His Likeness. Does He Have a Case?
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 11:47 PM Don’t Just Sit There How to be more productive during your commute.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 24 2014 7:00 AM Gallery: The Partial Solar Eclipse of October 2014
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.