Encyclopedia > Lightbulb joke

  Article Content

Lightbulb joke

The lightbulb joke is an example of a joke which was born long before the Internet, but found a perfect home there. Possessing the endless-variation nature of many other examples of Internet humor, it has been expanded to possibly thousands of variations covering every imaginable culture, belief, occupation and special-interest group. Generally the punchline is not complimentary to the group providing the subject of the joke.

The generally acknowledged "original" goes as follows:

Q: How many (insert chosen ethnic group here) does it take to change a light-bulb?
A: Ten - one to hold the lightbulb and nine to turn the ladder around.

Even the original is subject to variation, the most common involving more people turning the entire house around. There is no uniformity as to the target of derision: in America is it usually the Polish people, while in Britain it is the Irish who are lampooned. The jokes are by no means limited to English-speaking countries. For example, the Russians tell the same joke about the Moldavians; the Spanish make fun of the inhabitants of Lepe; the Germans target the East Frisians; and the Indians target the Pakistanis.

This generic usability prompted one commentator to create the "all-purpose ethnic version" which reads as follows:

Q: How many members of a given ethnic community does it take to change a light-bulb?
A: Ten - one to hold the lightbulb and nine to behave in a fashion generally associated with a negative stereotype of that group.

The reader may legitimately wonder if the author of the above joke gets invited to many parties.

A comprehensive listing of known variations has been provided. Note that in many cases multiple answers are provided. The following list of joke variants is broadly grouped into four categories:

See "essay-style" versions of the joke below under "Long lightbulb jokes".

Table of contents

Geographical or ethnic variations

Nations and their armies - Q: How many armies does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: At least five. The Germans to start it, the French to give up without really trying, the Italians to start, get nowhere and try again from the other side, the Americans to finish off the job and then claim credit for the whole thing, and the Swiss to pretend that nothing happened. (Don't get it? See WWII.)

Californians - Q: How many Californians does it take to change a light bulb?
A1: Six. One to screw it in and five to share the experience.
A2: None -- they screw in hot tubs!

Northern Californians - Q: How many Northern Californians does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Hella.

The French - Q: How many Frenchmen does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Only one. He holds the light bulb while the world revolves around him.

Jewish mothers - Q: How many Jewish mothers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None, I'll just sit here in the dark, and this pain I have - oy vey you should never know...

Oregonians - Q: How many Oregonians does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Three. One to screw in the lightbulb and two to fend off all those Californians trying to share the experience.

San Francisco: Q: How many straight San Franciscans does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Both of them.

Valley girls - Q: How many valley girls does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Oooh, like manual labor? Gag me with a spoon! Fer shure!

Virginians - Q: How many Virginians does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Three. One to screw it in and two to talk about how wonderful the old one was in the good old days.

Philosophical or religious variations

Catholics - Q: How many Catholics does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Three, but they're really only One. (Don't get it? This is a reference to the Trinity.)

Christians - Q: How many Christians does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. Though we can facilitate the change, you must remember that light can only be redeemed by the Grace of God through his only son Jesus Christ.

Calvinist Christians - Q: How many Calvinist Christians does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. God has already decided whether the bulb is destined for light or eternal darkness, and nothing we can do will change that. (Don't get it? See Predestination (Calvinism)).

Existentialists - Q: How many existentialists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Two: One to screw it in and one to observe how the lightbulb itself symbolizes a single incandescent beacon of subjective reality in a netherworld of endless absurdity reaching out toward a maudlin cosmos of nothingness.

Feminists - Q: How many Feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A1: That's not funny!!!
A2: Two. One to screw in the light bulb and one to berate any men who offer to help
A3: Three: One to screw in the light bulb and two to discuss how the bulb is exploiting the socket.

Greek Orthodox Priests - Q: How many Greek Orthodox priests does it take to change a light bulb?
A: What do you mean, "change"!?

Liberals - Q: How many liberals does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Five. One to screw it in and four to screw it up.

Marxists - Q: How many Marxists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: None: The light bulb contains the seeds of its own revolution.

"Pro-lifers" - Q: How many "pro-lifers" does it take to change a light bulb?
A: 6: Two to screw in the bulb and four to testify that it was lit from the moment they began screwing.

Socialists - Q: How many socialists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One to petition the Ministry of Light for a bulb, fifty to establish the state production quota, two hundred militia to force the factory unions to allow production of the bulb, and one to surreptitiously order an American light bulb.

Stoners - Q: How many stoners does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Woah dude, so that's where the light comes from!

Surrealists - Q: How many surrealists does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Fish.
A2: To get to the other side.
A3: Two; one to hold the giraffe, and one to put the clocks in the bath tub.

Ufologists - Q: How many ufologists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: It's *NOT* funny.

Unitarians - Q: How many Unitarians does it take to change a light bulb?
A: We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, if, in your own journey, you have found that light bulbs work for you, that is fine. You are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your personal relationship with your light bulb, and present it next month at our annual light bulb Sunday service, in which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, three-way, long-life, and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence.

Yuppies/WASPs - Q: How many Yuppies (WASPs) does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Two, one to mix the martinis and the other to call the electrician.

Zen Masters - Q: How many Zen Masters does it take to change a light bulb?
A1: A tree in a golden forest.
A2: Two. One to change and one not to change.
A2a: "One to change and one not to change" is fake Zen. The true Zen answer is "Four. One to change the bulb."
A3: Three. Two to fetch the wood and one to enlighten the novice.

Occupational or behavioural variations

Accountants - Q: How many accountants does it take to change a light bulb?
A: What kind of answer did you have in mind?

Brewers - Q: How many brewers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: About one third less than for a regular bulb.

Central Intelligence Agency - Q: How many CIA agents does it take to change a light bulb?
A. Ten thousand: one to change the bulb, one to botch the job, and the rest to form a massive cover-up.

Committee members - Q: How many committee members does it take to change a light bulb?
A: This topic was resumed from last week's discussion, but is incomplete pending resolution of some action items noted in the minutes. It will be continued next week. Meanwhile...

Computer programmers - Q: How many computer programmers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Sorry, that's a hardware problem!

Football players - Q: How many football players does it take to change a light bulb?
A: The entire team! And they all get a semester's credit for it!

Fraternity brothers - Q: How many fratboys does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None; fratboys don't screw in lightbulbs they screw in pools of vomit.

Freudians - Q: How many Freudians does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Two; One to change the bulb and one to hold my penis...I mean, my mother...I mean, the ladder.

Graduate students - Q: How many graduate students does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Only one, but it may take upwards of five years for him to get it done.

Lojbanists - Q: How many Lojbanists does it take to change a broken light bulb?
A: Two: one to decide what to change it into, and one to figure out what kind of bulb emits broken light.

Mathematicians - Q: How many mathematicians does it take to change a light bulb?
A1: None. It's left as an exercise for the reader.

A2: In a recent article, Robertson states:

A: One. He gives it to six Californians, thereby reducing the problem to an earlier joke...

However, in earlier work, Wiener [1] has shown that one mathematician can change a light bulb:

If k mathematicians can change a light bulb, and if one more simply watches them do it, then k+1 mathematicians will have changed the light bulb.

Therefore, by induction, for all n in the positive integers, n mathematicians can change a light bulb.

Bibliography -
See also : Internet humor[1] Wiener, Matthew P., <11485@ucbvax>, Re: YALBJ, 1986

Microsoft executives - Q: How many Microsoft executives does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Microsoft doesn't change lightbulbs; it declares darkness the new standard.

Middle managers[?] - Q: How many middle managers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: I'll have to get back to you on that.

Movie Directors - Q: How many movie directors does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Just one, but he wants to do it thirty-two times and when he's finished everyone will think that his last lightbulb was much better.

Mystery writers - Q: How many mystery writers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Two: One to screw it almost all the way in and the other to give it a surprising twist at the end.

PMS sufferers - Q: How many women with PMS does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Three.
Q: Why?
A: BECAUSE IT JUST DOES -- OKAY?

Tabloid Editors - Q:How many tabloid editors does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: A VAST AND TEEMING HORDE STRETCHING FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA!!!!

Therapists - Q: How many therapists does it take to change a light bulb?
A1: Only one, but the light bulb has to really want to change.
A2: How many do you think it takes?

Trumpet players - Q: How many first trumpet players does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Six, one to change it and the other five to go on about how much better they would have done it.

Supplementary: Q: How many second trumpet players does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None, we don't go up that high.

Unimaginative people - Q: How many unimaginative people does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One.

Vietnam veterans - Q: How many vietnam veterans does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: YOU DON'T KNOW! YOU WEREN'T THERE, MAN!!! YOU'LL NEVER KNOW!!!!!

Trekker variations

These variants use the fictional alien races of Star Trek. At times, "light bulb" is replaced by "transtator tube" for flavor.

Vulcans - Q: How many Vulcans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A1: Two, but it has to be a very large light bulb and they can only do it once every seven years.
A2: Just one, and he fails to see any humor in the situation.

Klingons - Q: How many Klingons does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Two: one to change the light bulb and one to kill the other and take all the credit.

Borg - Q: How many Borg does it take to change a lightbulb?
A1: Changing lightbulbs is futile. Resistance is voltage divided by current.
A2: None. They just self-destruct the malfunctioning equipment.

Bajorans - Q: How many Bajorans does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Two: One to change the lightbulb, and one to request a vision from the prophets in order to thank them.

Ferengi - Q: How many Ferengi does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Two: One to screw the new one in, and one to sell the broken one to an unsuspecting customer.

Too odd to categorise variations

Self-reference - Q: How many light bulbs does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One, if it knows its own Gödel number. (Don't get it? This is a reference to the mathematician Kurt Gödel and his work on self-reference.)

Gorillas - Q: How many gorillas does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Only one, but you need a shit-load of light-bulbs.

Long lightbulb jokes

Lawyers

Q: How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Such number as may be deemed to perform the stated task in a timely and efficient manner within the strictures of the following agreement:

Whereas the party of the first part, also known as "The Lawyer", and the party of the second part, also known as "The Light Bulb", do hereby and forthwith agree to a transaction wherein the party of the second part (Light Bulb) shall be removed from the current position as a result of failure to perform previously agreed upon duties, i.e., the lighting, elucidation, and otherwise illumination of the area ranging from the front (north) door, through the entry way, terminating at an area just inside the primary living area, demarcated by the beginning of the carpet, any spillover illumination being at the option of the party of the second part (Light Bulb) and not required by the aforementioned agreement between the parties.

The aforementioned removal transaction shall include, but not be limited to, the following steps:

1.) The party of the first part (Lawyer) shall, with or without elevation at his option, by means of a chair, stepstool, ladder or any other means of elevation, grasp the party of the second part (Light Bulb) and rotate the party of the second part (Light Bulb) in a counter-clockwise direction, said direction being non- negotiable. Said grasping and rotation of the party of the second part (Light Bulb) shall be undertaken by the party of the first part (Lawyer) with every possible caution by the party of the first part (Lawyer) to maintain the structural integrity of the party of the second part (Light Bulb), notwithstanding the afore- mentioned failure of the party of the second part (Light Bulb) to perform the aforementioned customary and agreed upon duties. The foregoing notwithstanding, however, both parties stipulate that structural failure of the party of the second part (Light Bulb) may be incidental to the aforementioned failure to perform and in such case the party of the first part (Lawyer) shall be held blameless for such structural failure insofar as this agreement is concerned so long as the non-negotiable directional codicil (counter-clockwise) is observed by the party of the first part (Lawyer) throughout.

2.) Upon reaching a point where the party of the second part (Light Bulb) becomes separated from the party of the third part ("Receptacle"), the party of the first part (Lawyer) shall have the option of disposing of the party of the second part (Light Bulb) in a manner consistent with all applicable state, local and federal statutes.

3.) Once separation and disposal have been achieved, the party of the first part (Lawyer) shall have the option of beginning installation of the party of the fourth part ("New Light Bulb"). This installation shall occur in a manner consistent with the reverse of the procedures described in step one of this self- same document, being careful to note that the rotation should occur in a clockwise direction, said direction also being non- negotiable. NOTE: The above described steps may be performed, at the option of the party of the first part (Lawyer), by said party of the first part (Lawyer), by his heirs and assigns, or by any and all persons authorized by him to do so, the objective being to produce a level of illumination in the immediate vicinity of the aforementioned front (north) door consistent with maximization of ingress and revenue for the party of the fifth part, also known as "The Firm".

List-serv subscribers

Q: How many list-serv subscribers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: 1,331

  • 1 to change the light bulb
  • 14 to share similar experiences of changing light bulbs and how the light bulb could have been changed differently.
  • 7 to caution about the dangers of changing light bulbs.
  • 27 to point out spelling/grammar errors in posts about changing light bulbs.
  • 53 to flame the spell checkers
  • 156 to write to the list administrator complaining about the light bulb discussion and its inappropriateness to this mail list.
  • 41 to correct spelling in the spelling/grammar flames.
  • 109 to post that this list is not about light bulbs and to please take this email exchange to alt.lite.bulb
  • 203 to demand that cross posting to alt.grammar, alt.spelling and alt.punctuation about changing light bulbs be stopped.
  • 111 to defend the posting to this list saying that we all use light bulbs and therefore the posts are relevant to this mail list.
  • 306 to debate which method of changing light bulbs is superior, where to buy the best light bulbs, what brand of light bulbs work best for this technique, and what brands are faulty.
  • 27 to post URLs where one can see examples of different light bulbs
  • 14 to post that the URLs were posted incorrectly, and to post corrected URLs.
  • 3 to post about links they found from the URLs that are relevant to this list which makes light bulbs relevant to this list.
  • 33 to concatenate all posts to date, then quote them including all headers and footers, and then add "Me Too."
  • 12 to post to the list that they are unsubscribing because they cannot handle the light bulb controversy.
  • 19 to quote the "Me Too's" to say, "Me Three."
  • 4 to suggest that posters request the light bulb FAQ.
  • 1 to propose new alt.change.lite.bulb newsgroup.
  • 47 to say this is just what alt.physics.cold_fusion was meant for, leave it here.
  • 143 votes for alt.lite.bulb.

See also : Internet humor



All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

 
  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
 
 
  
  Featured Article
Consideration

... to reform contracts, i.e. that even if the price is not the market price, courts will accept it as the price under the doctrine of freedom ...