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"An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman" is a form of joke in Ireland and the United Kingdom. The nationalities involved may vary, though they are most usually restricted to those within the UK and Ireland, and the number of people involved is usually three or four. This style of joke is also told with the countries switched (e.g., an Australian, an American, and an Irishman). The jokes are also popular in the Republic of Ireland, where the characters are called Paddy Irishman (or a Kerryman), Paddy Englishman, And Paddy Scotsman. The punchline is usually based around the Irishman's stupidity, the Scotsman's meanness, or the Englishman's snobbishness. Sometimes, when the joke requires four people, a Welshman is brought into the joke.

Such jokes in Canada usually substitute the supposedly stupid Irishman with Newfie (pejorative term for someone who is from Newfoundland). The "3 nationalities" joke format is also very common in other countries: in The Netherlands the joke is usually presented as "A Dutchman, a German and a Belgian...", in Turkey as "An Englishman, a Frenchman, a German and a Turk...", in Spain as "An Englishman, a Frenchman and a Spaniard", in Greece as "a German, an Italian and a Greek...", in Russia as "A Russian, an American and a German (or a Frenchman, or an Englishman)..." and in Italy as "An Italian, a German and a Frenchman (or an Englishman)...". In these cases, the two foreigners are always portrayed as cocky, stupid and naïve, while the same nationality person is smart, practical and, ultimately, victorious. A common Finnish version has "A Finn, a Swede and a Norwegian", where the Swede is usually made fun of.

The jokes are sometimes retold as being about a redhead, a brunette and a blonde, or a priest, a minister and a rabbi.

Contents

Form

The joke begins "An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman..." (or whichever nationality is relevant to that particular variation) and then places the three characters in a scenario. How each person in the joke reacts to the scenario is then explained, the final reaction being the punch line, playing up to the stereotype of that nationality. Generally speaking in Ireland the Englishman or the Scotsman is the butt of the joke, although in the neighbouring island of Britain the Irishman is usually portrayed as the butt of the joke.

In the Netherlands, the Belgian is portrayed as being stupid or dumb. If the joke is about being rude or anti social, the Belgian is replaced by a German. In Belgium, however, the Dutch are portrayed as cheapskates (though Germans are still portrayed as rude). Telling jokes about each other is often humorously considered a 'national sport' in both Belgium and Holland. This goes as far as having some jokes that are exactly the same in both countries, except for the subject of the joke (Belgian/Dutchman, depending on the nationality of the narrator). The French also format such jokes with a Belgian as the butt.

In Latin America, a similar kind of joke often involves a Colombian, due to their costeño dialect, which is perceived by many other Spanish-speakers to be comical. At the end of the joke, the Colombian makes a reference to the paisan or costeño references. In Brazil, this kind of joke will often involve Argentinians, regarded as arrogant by Brazilians, or Portuguese, who are portrayed as stupid and with a comic accent.

Examples

  • A Scotsman, an Englishman and an Irishman find a wizard on the top of a tall cliff. The wizard orders them to jump off the cliff, but he also promises that if they say anything while falling, they will get it at the bottom of the cliff. So first, the Englishman jumps off the cliff and shouts, "Pillows!" and so he lands on some pillows. Then the Scotsman jumps off the cliff, and he shouts, "Hay!" and so he lands on some hay. Finally the Irishman runs to jump off the cliff, but he trips on a rock just before the jump and says, "Aw, shite!"
  • A Scotsman, an Englishman and an Irishman were discussing the infidelity of their wives. "I think my wife is having an affair with an electrician", said the Englishman, "because I found an electrician's toolbox under her bed last night." "I think my wife is having an affair with a plumber", said the Scotsman, "because last night I found a plunger under her bed". "I think my wife is having an affair with a horse", said the Irishman, "because last night I found a jockey under her bed."
  • An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman are sitting in a bar. Suddenly, a fly dives into their beers. The Englishman says, "Barman, a fly just dived into my beer. Bring me another one." The Englishman got another beer. The Irishman says, "Ah, to hell with it," and empties his pint, fly and all. The Scotsman pulls the fly out of his beer, shakes it up and down, and screams, "Spit it out, damn you! Spit it out!" (This time playing on the stereotypical Scottish thriftiness.)
  • An Englishman, a Scotsman, and an Irishman are all builders working on a bridge. The Englishman opens his lunch-box and says, "If I get one more tuna sandwich, I'm going to jump off this bridge." The Scotsman opens his lunch box and says, "If I get one more ham sandwich, I'm going to jump off this bridge." The Irishman then says, "If I get one more egg sandwich, I'm going to jump off this bridge." The next day, all three get the same lunch, all three jump off the bridge, and all three die. At their funeral, the Englishman's wife says, "If only I'd known he didn't like tuna." The Scotsman's wife says, "If only I'd known he didn't like ham." The Irishman's wife says, "I don't understand it. He made his own sandwiches."
  • An Englishman, a Scotsman, and an Irishman are all walking along together when they encounter a slide in front of a pool. The Englishman decides to give it a try and shouts as he slides down "Beer!" and lands in a pool of beer. The Scotsman sees this and has a go himself. As he slides down cries out "Whisky!", and lands in a pool of whisky. The Irishman, having seen this, decides to have a go to, as it looks like fun. As he slides down, he cries out "Weeeeeee!"

These jokes are sometimes made examples of meta- or sheerly absurd humour, in these examples:

  • Paddy Englishman, Paddy Irishman and Paddy Scotsman walk into a bar. The barman turns around and says: "What is this, some kind of joke?"
  • Paddy Englishman and Paddy Scotsman both walk into a bar. Paddy Irishman ducks under it.
  • Paddy Englishman, Paddy Scotsman and a Rabbi walk into a bar. The Rabbi stops and says "I think I'm in the wrong joke".
  • An Englishman, a Scotsman, and an Irishman walk into a bar. The Englishman has a sword, the Scotsman has an axe, and the Irishman has a bomb. The Englishman throws his sword out the window and leaves. On his way home, he finds a little boy crying. "Oh, what is the matter, poor child?" "A sword flew out of the sky and it landed on my father..." the boy sobs. The Englishman walks home. The Scotsman throws his axe out the window and walks home. On his way home, he finds a little girl crying. "Dear lass, what's the matter?" he asks. "An axe fell out of the sky and it landed on my brother..." The Scotsman walks home. The Irishman throws his bomb out the window and leaves. On his way home, he finds a little boy laughing hysterically. "What's so funny, lad?" he asks. "I went to the loo and my house blew up."

References

  • Delia Chiaro (1992), The Language of Jokes, London, Routledge (see pp. 48-50 on the three nationalities joke).

External links

  • Irish Jokes, a site dedicated to Irish jokes, including several An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman jokes.
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