A Classic Joke

I’ve been repeating this since I heard it in Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie. This Italian sketch acts it out.

Seems like you never hear “classic” jokes anymore. When I say a classic joke, I’m talking about a setup, a short story, and a punchline (or sometimes just a one-liner). Probably ended with the rise of email forwards and because the most popular formats of brief comedy are now image memes and short videos. There are standup comedians who tell a bit of a story but that’s less formulaic. And it’s not as common, socially, to tell this sort of joke anymore. The great thing about them is, you only have to remember a few key facts and the punchline; the teller weaves details and delivery around the formula to make it more fun for the listener. I’ve got a large arsenal of jokes, and I miss them. Here’s one:

A tired businessman traveling through Louisiana stops into a local bar, takes a seat, and orders a beer. He notices a large glass jar with loads of $10 bills in it — must be a few thousand dollars in there — and asks the bartender what it’s for.

“That’s the crocodile challenge jar. If you put in ten bucks, you can try the three challenges, and if you win, you get the whole pot.”

“Well, what are the three challenges?”

A couple other bar patrons take notice as the bartender explains: “OK bud, well first you have to drink this bottle of pepper tequila in one try.” He fetches a flask-style bottle. “You get no breaks or water, and if you throw up, you’re out.”

“For the second challenge, you have to step out back. This is bayou country, so we have a pet gator. But she’s got a sore tooth, and we’ve been trying to get someone to pull it for us with this challenge. No one’s gotten that far yet.”

“…and the third challenge?”

“To win the crocodile challenge… my mother lives upstairs. She’s real overweight, doesn’t get out of bed anymore. Hasn’t been with a man in ten, fifteen years. If you want that jar of money, you gotta have sex with her.”

The businessman is amused by the ridiculous story, but declines. “Ha! That’s ridiculous! I’ll just take another beer.”

Two hours and several drinks later, the businessman loosens his tie and decides, “what the hell! Here’s ten bucks for the jar, hand over that bottle!”

The whole bar is watching as the businessman siezes the bottle and chugs, then takes intermittent drinks of tequila. Tears streaming down his face, he struggles down the last bit of alcohol. Some are cheering him on and banging excitedly on the bar as they direct him to the sturdy wooden door on the back wall.

The bartender unbolts on the door. “Now be careful! The crocodile challenge is one thing, but we can’t let that angry gator in here, so I’m gonna lock this behind you. I’m not opening it until you knock to be let in, understand?”

Now completely drunk, the businessman is eager for action. “I got it, I got it, just let me at her! I’ll be back in no time!”

The bar patrons hush as they listen to the events out in the marsh. For a few moments, silence. Then, a war cry from the challenger, and the splash of footsteps. They hear the alligator’s fearsome snarls and hisses, and grunts of great effort. Then, the bartender starts shouting, at first in aggressive bursts, then in fearful screams, and soon in yelps of pain. In a few minutes, the immense splashing and vocalizations die down, and then, silence.

After a moment, the bar patrons look at each other. A few sadly shake their heads. The bartender considers opening the door, but fears for the safety of his patrons.


The bartender unbolts the door as fast as he can and swings it open. In rushes the businessman, clothes torn to ribbons, covered in scratch and bite marks, stained with blood, missing a tooth, limping and clutching his side.


“Are you OK?? What happened?”

“I did it!! What a fearsome animal! I almost fucking died, but I did it!! Now where’s that woman with the toothache at?”

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