Friday, June 29, 2007

Passing the Plate/Crossing the Road

Brothers, sisters, and Transgendered Comedists Everywhere:

This week saw the 51st anniversary of the passing of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 which created the interstate highway system in the United States. To celebrate this "milestone," we will take up donations of the "crossing the road" variety.

One of those jokes everyone knows is "Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side." Well, not everyone. I gave a quiz in my critical thinking class years ago for which the fallacies of the week included "Appeal to Humor," that is making a joke instead of offering supported arguments. The example on the quiz read,

"Jane: Why do you want to go to the restaurant over there instead of this one here that looks nice?
Jim: To see how the chicken's across the road."
I had a student in the class who had recently come over from her native China and, getting the problem wrong, asked why that was supposed to be an appeal to humor when nothing in it seemed at all humorous. I gave her the points. Like knock-knock jokes, it really isn't a very funny joke despite its fame.

But it has given rise to parodies, some of which are at least a bit funnier.

Why did the rubber chicken cross the road?
She wanted to stretch her legs.

Why did the Roman chicken cross the road?
She was afraid someone would Caesar!

Then there are the famous figures versions:

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Isaac Newton: Chickens at rest tend to stay at rest. Chickens in motion tend to cross the road.

Jacques Derrida: Any number of contending discourses may be discovered within the act of the chicken crossing the road, and each interpretation is equally valid as the authorial intent can never be discerned, because structuralism is DEAD, DAMMIT, DEAD.

Louis Farrakhan: The road, you will see, represents the black
man. The chicken crossed the "black man" in order to trample him
and keep him down.

Pierre de Fermat: I have figured it out, but unfortunately I just don't have room here to give the full explanation.

John F. Kennedy: Ask not what road this chicken crossed. Ask what road you can cross for that chicken.

Werner Heisenberg: We are not sure which side of the road the chicken was
on, but it was moving very fast.

Sigmund Freud: Because it was envious of the cock.

Ronald Reagan: I don't recall.

Wolfgang Pauli: There already was a chicken on this side of the road.

Pyrrho the Skeptic: What road?
And, of course, the off-shoots,
Why did the manic-depressive cross the road? Who cares? Nothing really matters anyway.
So, any favorites out there?