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Fins Left
05-22-2012, 06:17 AM
There's a joke that's been passed around through local oral tradition in this area. I can Google up many versions of it on line. But how to you find the origin or the source? How do you determine the copyright status?

The joke I'm trying to track down is about a rooster.

A farmer looses his rooster, so goes to the local market to find a replacement. The replacement rooster immediately screws all the hens on the farm (over a hundred), but doesn't stop there. The rooster spends the rest of the day servicing the cows, horses, pigs and an unfortunate squirrel that happed to scamper through the farm yard at the wrong time.

The next morning, the farmer finds his new rooster in the center of the courtyard, flat on his back, eye closed. Vultures are already circling above and ready to pounce on the newly deceased.

The farmer walks over to the rooster feeling bad that the bird had screwed himself to death. As the farmer draws near, the rooster opens one eye and motions above with one feathered wing and wispers "shhh... they're just about to land"

How do I find out the copyright status of this joke? Any help would be welcome.

Al Stevens
05-22-2012, 08:12 AM
A joke is an idea. Ideas cannot be copyrighted. Jokes are borrowed/stolen all the time. A particular expression of a joke can be copyrighted. If you get one out of a joke book, for example, you shouldn't use it verbatim in a story. Retell it.

The rooster joke you use for an example has been around for years in various versions. Another version of the joke has the farmer looking for the rooster only to find him at the airport. The rooster points with one wing up at a 747 coming in and says, "Shhh."

Medievalist
05-22-2012, 08:28 AM
Re-write it. Completely re-tell the joke in your own words.

Al Stevens
05-22-2012, 09:46 AM
The origins of jokes is an ongoing question. Where do the jokes come from. Comedy writers, of course, but what about the jokes people tell in social situations? "Two drunks go into a bar..."

One theory holds that many of them originate in prisons. I don't know why people think that, but I've heard it for years.

When I was performing, my material consisted of about 75% original jokes (written by me) and 25% jokes I adapted from other sources. When I retired, I published some of my "acts" in paperback and e-book formats. It's done pretty well given its niche status.

Fins Left
05-22-2012, 09:53 AM
The rooster joke you use for an example has been around for years in various versions. Another version of the joke has the farmer looking for the rooster only to find him at the airport. The rooster points with one wing up at a 747 coming in and says, "Shhh."
OMG, I've never heard that version, but it made me LOL.

Fins Left
05-22-2012, 09:57 AM
Re-write it. Completely re-tell the joke in your own words.

It is hard to 're-tell' the key factor of this joke (the Rooster going for the buzzards) without loosing the entire effect. I actually don't want to use the joke as a direct quote, rather a character needs to say "Who hasn't heard the joke about the farmer.... "

Fins Left
05-22-2012, 10:02 AM
The origins of jokes is an ongoing question. Where do the jokes come from. Comedy writers, of course, but what about the jokes people tell in social situations? "Two drunks go into a bar..."

One theory holds that many of them originate in prisons. I don't know why people think that, but I've heard it for years.


I could see the prison thing. Large captured population with little else to do but build up a verbal lore that is passed on the 'newbies'. I grew up in a small town just like that :-)

I was thinking about citing 'local lore' for this joke in the WIP. Since I first heard it long before the internet existed. It was one of those 'dirty jokes' that kids told each other at school. (The boys liked to act it out)

Medievalist
05-22-2012, 10:21 AM
It is hard to 're-tell' the key factor of this joke (the Rooster going for the buzzards) without loosing the entire effect. I actually don't want to use the joke as a direct quote, rather a character needs to say "Who hasn't heard the joke about the farmer.... "

Re write it means use your own words in your own order.

Go look at how very many versions there are of essentially the same joke, going back years and years and years.

James D. Macdonald
05-22-2012, 08:16 PM
A discussion of legal precedent in the case of jokes' copyrights (http://williampatry.blogspot.com/2008/01/jokes-and-copyright.html).


One theory holds that many of them originate in prisons. I don't know why people think that, but I've heard it for years.Actually, they originate on ships.

A new sailor arrives on his first vessel. That evening, after chow, all the off-watch sailors are lounging around the forecastle when one of them calls out "Twenty-three!" and everyone laughs. The new guy is puzzled, but says nothing. Then someone else calls out "Eighty-five!" and again, everyone laughs. The new guy is really puzzled, because the number 85 doesn't seem too humorous to him. Then another guy says "A hundred and eight!" and again there's a round of laughter.

The new sailor can't handle it, so he turns to the sailor next to him and asks what's up.

"It's like this," says the other sailor. "We've all been on-board for a long time. We've heard each others' jokes so often that we have them memorized. After a while we gave them numbers. Now, to save time, instead of telling the whole joke, we just give the number and it's just like we're hearing the joke."

Just then, someone calls out, "Five hundred and twelve!" And this gets a huge laugh; some guys are laughing so hard that tears are rolling down their faces, others are rolling around on the deck.

"What happened there?" asks the new guy.

"That was one we hadn't heard before."

...

So, anyway, the new guy asks his new buddy, "Is it okay if I try?"

"Sure," says the other sailor. "No reason you can't join in."

So the new sailor says, "Eighteen!"

Silence.

The other sailors just look at him.

The new guy is terribly embarrassed. He turns to the other guy and whispers, "What happened?"

"Well," says the other sailor, "Some guys just can't tell a joke."

Al Stevens
05-22-2012, 08:48 PM
...
"Well," says the other sailor, "Some guys just can't tell a joke."When I first heard that joke, it took place in a prison. :)

Medievalist
05-22-2012, 08:52 PM
When I first heard that joke, it took place in a prison. :)

What were you in for?

Al Stevens
05-22-2012, 08:57 PM
What were you in for?Stealing jokes. :)

I spent much of my childhood inside a prison. My Dad was a guard. I often took his lunch to him when he was on the dayshirt. I don't remember any jokes, though. Nothing about that place was funny. I just remember that big gate, the walls, and always keeping a guard in sight.

James D. Macdonald
05-22-2012, 11:05 PM
When I first heard that joke it took place in a lumber camp.

So anyway, there's this lumberjack, just in town after six months in the woods. So he straightway goes to a house of ill repute, walks in, and says to the madame, "I want your toughest girl and two bottles of beer."

"That'll be Rosie," the madame says. "First room, top of the stairs."

So the lumberjack goes up there, and pretty soon in walks this young lady holding two beer bottles. She puts 'em on the nightstand, shucks off her bathrobe, and gets down on the floor on her hands and knees.

"Nah," says the lumberjack. "I want you on your back, in the bed, the old-fashioned way."

"Anything you say, sport," says the young lady. "Just thought you might want to open them beers first."

Al Stevens
05-23-2012, 01:00 AM
I hadn't heard that one, Jim. Thanks.

James D. Macdonald
05-23-2012, 08:39 AM
Since we're on the topic of prisons, though:

This guy gets out of prison, and the first thing he does is seek out a lady of easy virtue and hires her favors. When he gets done, she says, "You just got out of jail, didn't you?"

"Yeah," says the guy, "but how did you know?"

"It was several things," the young lady says. "First was, you wanted to do me from behind. But that, by itself, isn't unusual. Then, you took about thirty seconds. But that isn't unusual either. The real clincher was when you were done, you jumped around in front of me and hollered, 'Your turn!'"