A Husband and Wife Tell a Joke (Ein Ehepaar erzählt einen Witz)


„Herr Panter, we heard such a wonderful joke yesterday. We really mustI really must tell it to you. My husband already knew it, but it is just too funny. Alright then, listen.

A man… Walter, don’t spill your tobacco on the carpet. Look. There. You are spilling tobacco all over the carpet. There! A man. No, a wanderer, gets lost in the mountains. He goes into the mountains and gets lost. In the Alps. What? In the Dolomites. OK, in the Dolomites, not in the Alps. It doesn’t matter, anyway. He is walking along in the dark, when he sees a light. And he walks towards it… Let me tell it! That’s part of the joke! He walks towards the light, and comes to a hut where a farmer and his wife live. The farmer is old, and his wife is young and pretty. Yes, she is young. They are already in bed. No, they are not yet in bed…”

„My wife can’t tell jokes. Let me tell it. You can say afterwards if it was right. OK, now I’ll tell you the joke. A man is walking through the Dolomites, and he gets lost. And he comes to a… You’re confusing me, now. That’s not how the joke goes at all! The joke is completely different. In the Dolomites, that’s it! An old farmer lives in the Dolomites with his young wife. And they have nothing left to eat. They have only one can of beef left, until the next market day. And they are saving it. And then comes a… What? That’s how it goes! Shut up a minute… A wanderer comes in the night. A wanderer… There’s a knock on the door, and there is a man standing there. He is lost, and asks if he can stay the night. But they haven’t got space for a guest. They have only got one bed, and they sleep in it together. What? Trude, that’s nonsense… That can be very nice!”

„No, I couldn’t do that. Always someone who kicks in their sleep… No, I couldn’t do that!” „You don’t have to. Just don’t keep interrupting me.” „You said that would be nice. I don’t think it’s nice.” “Anyway, where was I?…“ „Walter! The ash! Can you not use an ashtray?” „Anyway… The wanderer has come inside. He is dripping with rain, and he wants to stay the night. So the farmer says to him, he can sleep in the bed, with his wife.” „No, that’s not how it goes. Walter, you’re telling it all wrong! In between, between him and his wife. With the wanderer in the middle!“ „Alright, in the middle, for all I care. It really doesn’t matter.“ „Of course it matters…That’s the whole point of the joke.” „The joke doesn’t depend on where the man sleeps!”

„Of course it does! How is Herr Panter going to get the joke?… Let me tell it. I’ll tell the joke! So the man sleeps, you see, between the old farmer and his wife. And there’s a storm outside. Let me tell it!” „She’s telling it all wrong. There’s no storm, they fall asleep peacefully. Suddenly the farmer wakes up and says to his wife, ‘Trude, answer the phone, it’s ringing.’ No, no, he doesn’t say that, of course. The farmer says to his wife, ‘Who is it? Who’s on the phone? Tell him to call back later, we’ve got no time now! Yes. No. Yes. Hang up! Just hang up!’” „Has he finished telling you the joke? No, not yet? Go on, tell it!”

„The farmer says, ‚I’ve got to go out and check on the goat. I think she’s broken out, and then we’ll have no milk in the morning! I’m going to go and check that the barn door is closed properly.’” „Walter, excuse me interrupting, but Paul says he can’t call later, he’ll call in the evening.” „OK, in the evening. Anyway, the farmer… A little more coffee? So, the farmer goes outside. And as soon as he is out the door, his young wife prods…“

„That’s wrong. Completely wrong. Not the first time! He goes outside, but she only prods the third time. Because, you know, the farmer goes outside three times. That’s what I found so funny! Let me tell it! So, the farmer goes outside to check on the goat, and the goat is there, and he comes back inside.” „Wrong. He stays outside for a long time, and in the meantime his young wife says to the wanderer” „She says nothing to the wanderer, because the farmer comes back inside…“ „He doesn’t come in then!”

„So… The farmer comes back inside, and after he has slept for a while, he suddenly jumps up from his sleep and says, ‚I’ve got to go and check on the goat again.’ And goes outside again.“ „You’ve forgotten to say how hungry the wanderer was!” „Yes. The wanderer had said earlier at supper, that he was terribly hungry, and they said that there was a bit of cheese…“ „And milk!“ „And milk. And that there was a little tinned meat, but they couldn’t give him that, because it had to last until the next market day. And then they went to bed.“

„And when the farmer is outside, she prods him. His wife prods the wanderer in the side and says, ‘Hey…’“ „Absolutely not! Absolutely not! Walter, that’s wrong! She doesn’t say, ‚Hey…‘“ „Of couse she says, ‚Hey…’ What else is she going to say?” „She says, ‚Now we could…‘“ „On the contrary, she says, ‚Hey…‘, and prods the wanderer in the side”

„You ruin every joke, Walter!” „That’s great! I ruin every joke? You ruin every joke! I am not ruining the joke! Then the farmer’s wife says…“ „Now let me tell the joke! You’ll ruin the punchline!“ „Now don’t get me annoyed, Trude! When I start to tell a joke, I want to finish telling it.”

„You didn’t start. I started it!“ „That’s not the point. Anyway, I want to finish telling the joke. You can’t tell a joke. Not properly, anyway.“ “I tell jokes in my way, not yours, and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to listen!“ „I don’t want to listen, I want to finish telling the joke, so that Herr Panter gets something out of it.” “If you think it’s a pleasure to listen to you…“ “Trude!” “What do you say, Herr Panter? Isn’t he unbearable? He’s been nervous like this the whole week… I have…“ „You‘re…“ „Your lack of self-control…“ “She’ll say, ‘Your complexes’ next. Your mother just called it bad upbringing.“ „My childhood…“ „Who was it that cancelled the solicitor, then? Who? Was it me, perhaps? It was you! You asked that the divorce not…“ “Liar!” Crash. The right-hand door slams. Crash. The left-hand door slams.

And now I’m sitting here with half a joke. What did the man say to the farmer’s wife?


Author: Kurt Tucholsky

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