My blog was established in conjunction with my participation in FOLK-F121 "World's Arts and Cultures" at Indiana University, Fall 2007.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

For my first encounter project, I decided to stick with verbal folklore and chose to do the joke or other verbal art project. The type of joke that my project focuses on is the knock knock joke. The specific knock knock joke that I heard went like this:

“Knock knock.”
“Whose there?”
“Atch, who?”
“Bless you!”

I heard this joke from one of my roommates three days ago. My two roommates, Ellyn and Marie, and I were in our living room, watching television and doing homework. Ellyn had her laptop with her and was checking her email when she came across one from her mother that contained twenty of her favorite knock knock jokes. She read a few of them to Marie and me, but she liked the one above the best. Throughout the whole night, Ellyn kept repeating the joke over and over again, laughing hysterically each time.

I know that knock knock jokes go way back, but I wasn’t sure exactly how long ago or how they originated. I figured my best bet was to go online and type in knock knock jokes to see what comes up. I ended up at, which said that South African school children used them in the early 1950s, but the exact origin of the knock knock joke is uncertain. Another website,, agreed that the origin of the knock knock joke is uncertain, but there is evidence of the use of knock knock jokes dating back to the time of William Shakespeare. According to this website, you can find a form of the knock knock joke in Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, however, it did continue to say that there is no evidence that suggests this is how knock knock jokes originated.

After discovering that there is no real knowledge of when knock knock jokes originated, I do not feel like I can say whether this specific knock knock joke is old or new. If I had to take a guess, I would say that it came around in the 1950s when knock knock jokes were popular. Obviously, knock knock jokes are extremely widespread all over the world, but I wasn’t sure if this specific knock knock joke was known by few or many. I figured the best way to find out if this was a popular knock knock joke was to go online again and see if it was on popular knock knock joke websites. This specific joke was on every website I visited, but on some occasions it was worded differently, such as the “Bless you!,” would be replaced with “You’re Excused!,” or “Gesudheit!”. This is probably because this joke was passed verbally from generation to generation, undergoing different interpretations, much like the game telephone. Although we don’t know the origin of knock knock jokes, we do know that they are very widespread and is an extremely popular type of joke.

This post is my response to the joke or other verbal art project for my encounter project 1.

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