Johnny America


The Foot­note is Part of the Story


Picture of three ducks.

Illustration by Sue BARTFIELD

With all this ex­tra time on my hands[1] thanks to the great pan­dem­ic of 2020 (COVID-19, etc.), I have tak­en to writ­ing jokes. What fol­lows is a com­pre­hen­sive list of the jokes I have come up with thus far:


Where does a duck’s poop come out of?

Its butt quack.

The list is ad­mit­ted­ly short, but the sin­gle joke it con­tains opens on­to the pos­si­bil­i­ty of al­most end­less it­er­a­tions and vari­a­tions. For ex­am­ple, if one want­ed to give it a dark­er twist, it could become:

What recre­ation­al drug achieved wide­spread use by ducks re­sid­ing in im­pov­er­ished ur­ban neigh­bor­hoods in the Unit­ed States dur­ing the 1980s, pos­si­bly as a re­sult of a sin­is­ter gov­ern­ment conspiracy?

Quack co­caine.

Con­verse­ly, one could, hav­ing told the orig­i­nal joke fol­lowed by the above or any oth­er vari­a­tion on the same, turn the pre­dictable sur­pris­ing by pro­vok­ing and then con­found­ing the ex­pec­ta­tion of some­thing fun­da­men­tal­ly dif­fer­ent, as in:

Okay, but where does a rub­ber duck’s poop come out of?

It’s rub­ber butt quack, of course!

Sub­se­quent­ly, one could yet again turn the pre­dictable sur­pris­ing, this time by con­found­ing the ex­pec­ta­tion that the ex­pec­ta­tion of some­thing fun­da­men­tal­ly dif­fer­ent will be con­found­ed, as in:

Okay, okay, but where does my poop come out of? 

My anus, where else? I as­sumed you were fa­mil­iar with ba­sic hu­man biology.

Fi­nal­ly, the fa­mil­iar could be ren­dered un­fa­mil­iar by go­ing back to the be­gin­ning in or­der to con­found the ex­pec­ta­tion of con­found­ed ex­pec­ta­tion, as in:

Do you know where an ac­tu­al duck’s poop comes out of, though?

I al­ready told you— it’s butt quack!

It should be not­ed that I have writ­ten this sto­ry for more or less the same rea­son I wrote the joke that con­sti­tutes its cen­tral con­cern. I know it’s not like­ly to be pub­lished, but per­haps that’s for the best, as it would no doubt be a re­al pain in the ass to translate.

[1] At which point the read­er can­not help but think: “Sounds messy!”

Filed under Dispatches on April 3rd, 2020

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