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Changing a light bulb

Novembre 2014
Un classico: quanti ... ci vogliono per cambiare una lampadina? Al posto dei puntini metteteci chi volete, di solito una categoria di persone che si vuole prendere in giro per le sue caratteristiche. E che ovviamente si offenderà...

di Marsha Henderson © British Council

File audio:

clicca qui per andare alla relativa traccia audio (contrassegnata dalla scritta "speaker")


Speakers: Rachel Roberts, Mark Worden, Derek Allen (Standard British accent) and Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)

Light bulb jokes are an example of satire, and are funny when the audience agrees with the stereotypes used in them; and like most stereotypes, they’re usually negative. “How many plumbers does it take to change a light bulb? Three: One to come to your house the day before, when you’re out; one to change the switch; and one to bring along the wrong type of bulb.” If you’ve ever been disappointed by a workman when you really needed one, you might argue that the joke seems accurate.

SHARED OPINION

Sometimes the stereotype used is one that fewer people have had direct experience of, and relies on a shared opinion. Here we have a joke based on the belief that psychiatrists just say the same things to everyone, and don’t give any real help.
“How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but the light bulb must want to change.”

ANY GROUP

Light bulb jokes, and satire in general, don’t just stick to jobs, though. They can make fun of any well-known group. “How many teenage girls does it take to change a light bulb? One, but she’ll be on the phone for five hours telling all her friends about it.” But how do you feel if you are a teenage girl reading this? Or a plumber? Or a psychiatrist? Satirical jokes are sometimes used to encourage negative attitudes towards groups of people, so listen carefully to the opening line before you join in the laughter.

CLEVER

On the other hand, light bulb jokes can be positive, or at least neutral, like this one, which is based on some clever word play, and is just... clever: “How many babysitters does it take to change a light bulb? None. They don’t make nappies small enough.” Can you imagine a light bulb in a nappy?

INTELLIGENT

At other times satirical jokes can rely on the audience sharing cultural knowledge. You don’t need to have read George Orwell’s 1984, but you need to have some idea about it for this joke to work. The book imagines a culture where the government uses the Thought Police to control people, and even to change history. “How many Thought Police does it take to change a light bulb? None. There never was a light bulb...” 


And here are some more examples of light bulb jokes:

SCOTSMEN

Q: How many Scotsmen does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Scotsmen don’t change light bulbs, it’s cheaper to sit in the dark.

LAWYERS

Q: How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: How many can you afford?

NUCLEAR ENGINEERS

Q: How many nuclear engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Seven. One to install the new bulb and six to figure out what to do with the old one for the next 10,000 years.

MICROSOFT

Q: How many MicroSoft engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. Bill Gates will just redefine darkness as the new industry standard.

Q: How many Windows users does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One. But they’ll swear that it was JUST as easy as it would be for a Mac user.

BOB DYLAN

Q: How many Dylan fans does it take to change a light bulb?
A: The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

HELPDESK

Q: How many helpdesk people does it take to change a light bulb?
A: The helpdesk has received your request concerning your hardware problem and has assigned you request service number 39,712. Please use this number for any future reference to this light bulb issue.


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