Skip

Finish this joke: "A Rabbi, a Priest, and a Minister Walk Into a Bar..."
May 7, 2006 2:51 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone actually know a joke that starts: "So a Rabbi, a Priest, and a Minister Walk Into a Bar..."? Or is it just a meta-joke?

A googling of that phrase turns up countless results, but all seem to be simply references to some sort of imagined ur-joke -- none are jokes themselves. The "What is this, some kind of joke" punchline doesn't count. That's a metajoke. But does anyone know any real ones? Is there a basis for this common joke set-up trope?
posted by TonyRobots to Society & Culture (31 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Lots in this book.
posted by ryanissuper at 2:54 PM on May 7, 2006



A priest, a preacher and a Rabbi walked into their favorite bar, where they would get together two or three times a week for drinks and to talk shop.

On this particular afternoon, someone made the comment that preaching to people isn't really all that hard. A real challenge would be to preach to a bear.

One thing led to another and they decided to do an experiment. They would all go out into the woods, find a bear, preach to it, and attempt to convert it.

Seven days later, they're all together to discuss the experience.

Father Flannery, who has his arm in a sling, is on crutches, and has various bandages, goes first.
"Well," he says, "I went into the woods to find me a bear. And when I found him I began to read to him from the Catechism. Well, that bear wanted nothing to do with me and began to slap me around. So I quickly grabbed my holy water, sprinkled him and, Holy Mary Mother of God, he became as gentle a lamb. The bishop is coming out next week to give him first communion and confirmation."

Reverend Billy Bob spoke next. He was in a wheelchair, with an arm and both legs in casts, and an IV drip. In his best fire and brimstone oratory he claimed, " WELL brothers, you KNOW that we don't sprinkle! I went out and I FOUND me a bear. And then I began to read to my bear from God's HOLY WORD! But that bear wanted nothing to do with me. So I took HOLD of him and we began to wrestle. We wrestled down one hill, UP another and DOWN another until we came to a creek. So I quick DUNKED him and BAPTIZED his hairy soul. And just like you said, he became as gentle as a lamb. We spent the rest of the day praising Jesus."

They both looked down at the rabbi, who was lying in a hospital bed. He was in a body cast and traction with IV's and monitors running in and out of him. He was in bad shape.

The rabbi looks up and says, "Looking back on it, circumcision may not have been the best way to start."
posted by Corky at 2:57 PM on May 7, 2006 [2 favorites]


ryan: I scanned as much of that book as Amazon would let me, and I didn't see a single example in the 5 or so jokes they exposed. It seems the title might be another "meta" example. Prove me wrong.

Corky: That's a good one, but the bar part seems tacked on. Was this an adaptation to fit the mold? That aside, the line "Looking back on it, circumcision may not have been the best way to start." would make great copy for a onesie.
posted by TonyRobots at 3:37 PM on May 7, 2006


A Rabbi, a Priest, and a Minister Walk Into a Bar. Then a horse walks in. The bartender says "Why the long face?"
posted by ryanissuper at 4:15 PM on May 7, 2006


ryanissuper, that's seriously the best joke I've ever heard.
posted by danb at 4:24 PM on May 7, 2006


Not quite, but I always liked it (plus it was a key plot point in the movie Short Circuit!):

There's a priest, a minister and a rabbi. They're out playing golf and they're trying to decide how much to give to charity.

So the priest says, we'll draw a circle on the ground, we'll throw the money way up in the air and whatever lands inside the circle, we give to charity.

The minister says "no", we'll draw a circle on the ground, throw the money way up in the air and whatever lands outside, that's what we give to charity.

The rabbi says "no, no, no", we'll throw the money way up in the air and whatever God wants, He keeps.
posted by loquax at 4:35 PM on May 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


A Rabbi, a Priest, and a Minister walk into a bar. The bartender picks up his phone and calls the cartoon editor of the New Yorker. He asks the editor: "Got a few minutes to kill?"
posted by dpcoffin at 4:39 PM on May 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


Variant on my favorite of all time, but here goes:

A Priest and a Rabbi walk into a bar; the Minister ducked.


:)
posted by johnstein at 4:45 PM on May 7, 2006


A rabbi, a priest, and a minister walk into a bar. The bartender looks at them and says, "What is this, a joke?"
posted by zadermatermorts at 5:01 PM on May 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


This book is the best joke book I've ever seen, and it doesn't have any, so I'm inclined to think there aren't any popular ones. Which makes sense -- jokes are usually set in bars to play off the bartender saying something or the setting of the bar, and rabbi/priest/minister jokes already have two straight guys to play off. That said, there are plenty of jokes you can adapt to a bar if you feel like it:

So a rabbi, a priest, and a minister are attending an ecumenical conference in another town, and they stop at a bar at the end of the day. The priest pulls out a deck of cards and pretty soon they've got a little poker game going -- only to be busted by an overzealous policeman enforcing the town's strict anti-gambling laws. So they're hauled before a judge the next morning, and everybody's kind of embarrassed about it, including the judge.

"Look," he says, "just tell me you weren't gambling, and I'll let you go."

"Well," says the priest, "gambling qua gambling seems to me to imply some sort of intent to win money or with the idea that it would exchange hands at the end of the evening, whereas considering a hypothetical situation such as the one we were engaged in where the money is taking on more of the role of a token merely for tracking the interplay of the game and the relative ..." and so on.

"Fine," says the judge, "You can go."

The minister steps up. "It seems to me that given divine foreknowledge of all events, even if we mortals are not so gifted raises the question of whether gambling as a concept can really .." and so on also, and is similarly dismissed by the judge, just leaving the rabbi in the courtroom.

"Well?" asks the judge. "Rabbi, were you gambling?"

The rabbi looks around and shrugs his shoulders. "Gambling? With who?"
posted by inkyz at 5:06 PM on May 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


The reason it's an easy meta-joke that so many folks can riff on today is that there *were* popular jokes at one point that used the rabbi/priest/minister thing. I used to read old joke books as a kid and saw lots of them.
posted by mediareport at 5:36 PM on May 7, 2006


A priest and a rabbi leave a bar, and see a ten year old boy. The priest says "Let's screw him!" and the rabbi says "Out of what?"
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 5:36 PM on May 7, 2006 [3 favorites]


A classic priest/minister/rabbi joke. Not hilarious or anything, but an oldie.
posted by mediareport at 5:40 PM on May 7, 2006


no, no, no, mediareport ... it's supposed to have the rabbi and the minister walking across the water and the priest thinking to himself that if an unbeliever and a heretic can walk across the water, then a priest of the one true church ought to be able to ... it's funnier that way
posted by pyramid termite at 6:36 PM on May 7, 2006


Priest-Minister-Rabbi jokes are everywhere. The problem is likely that most priest-minister-rabbi jokes aren't set in bars. I'm sure you could dig around and find one or two examples, but the meta-joke is funny only because it marries two of the most popular joke memes in history.

But the priest-minister-rabbi-other combination is a very common variety of joke. That said, it's also a very offensive variety of joke. Most often, it's anti-semitic, but some versions are anti-Catholic.

A minister, a priest and a rabbi went for a hike one day. It was very hot. They were sweating and exhausted when they came upon a small lake. Since it was fairly secluded, they took off all their clothes and jumped in the water. Feeling refreshed, the trio decided to pick a few berries while enjoying their "freedom." As they were crossing an open area, who should come along but a group of ladies from town. Unable to get to their clothes in time,the minister and the priest covered their privates and the rabbi covered his face while they ran for cover. After the ladies left and the men got their clothes backon, the minister and the priest asked the rabbi why he covered his facerather than his privates. The rabbi replied, "I don't know about you, but in MY congregation, it's my face they would recognise."

A Jew, a Christian and a Muslim were having a discussion about who was the most religious.

"I was riding my camel in the middle of the Sahara," exclaimed the Muslim. "Suddenly a fierce sandstorm appeared from nowhere. I truly thought my end had come as I lay next to my camel while we being buried deeper and deeper under the sand. But I did not lose my faith in the Almighty Allah, I prayed and prayed and suddenly, for a hundred metres all around me, the storm had stopped. Since that day I am a devout Muslim and am now learning to recite the Quran by memory."

"One day while fishing," started the Christian, "I was in my little dinghy in the middle of the ocean. Suddenly a fierce storm appeared from nowhere. I truly thought my end had come as my little dinghy was tossed up and down in the rough ocean. But I did not lose my faith in Jesus Christ, I prayed and prayed and suddenly, for 300 metres all around me, the storm had stopped. Since that day I am a devout Christian and am now teaching young children about Him."

"One day I was walking down the road," explained the Jew, "I was in my most expensive designer outfit in the middle of New York city. Suddenly I saw a black bag on the ground in front of me appear from nowhere. I put my hand inside and found a million dollars in cash. I truly thought my end had come as it was a Saturday and we are not allowed to handle money on Saturdays. But I did not lose my faith in Jehova, I prayed and prayed and suddenly, for 500 metres all around me, it was Tuesday..."

A priest, minister and rabbi were playing their usual Wednesday round of golf, and started discussing their weekly collections.

Specifically, they started to compare how they decided what portion of the collection to keep for themselves and what portion to give to the Lord.

The priest explains, "I draw a circle around myself and toss the money in the air. Whatever lands in the circle I keep for myself. What ever lands outside the circle, I give to God."

The minister says, "Yes, I use a similar method, except that whatever lands inside the circle I give to God, and whatever lands outside the circle I keep for my personal needs."

The rabbi then proclaims, "Brothers we are in agreement! I use the same method, as well. Except, that when I toss the money in the air, and I figure that whatever God wants He can keep..."

A rabbi, a minister, and a priest are playing poker when the police raid the game. Addressing the priest, the lead officer asks: "Father Murphy, were you gambling?" Turning his eyes to heaven, the priest whispers, "Lord, forgive me for what I am about to do." To the police officer, he then says, "No, officer, I was not gambling." The officer then asks the minister: "Pastor Johnson, were you gambling?" Again, after an appeal to heaven, the minister replies, "No, officer, I was not gambling." Turning to the rabbi, the officer again asks: "Rabbi Goldstein, were you gambling?" Shrugging his shoulders, the rabbi replies: "With whom?"

An Irish priest and a Rabbi found themselves sharing a compartment on a train. After a while, the priest opened a conversation by saying
"I know that, in your religion, you're not supposed to eat pork...Have you actually ever tasted it? "
The Rabbi said, "I must tell the truth. Yes, I have, on the odd occasion."
Then the Rabbi had his turn of interrogation. He asked,
"Your religion, too...I know you're supposed to be celibate. But...."
The priest replied,
"Yes, I know what you're going to ask. I have succumbed once or twice."
There was silence for a while. Then the Rabbi peeped around the newspaper he was reading and said,
"Better than pork, isn't it?"

An enthusiastic young Methodist minister was posted to a small town where there was both a catholic church and a jewish synogogue. The catholic priest and the jewish rabbi welcomed the young minister warmly and offered any assistance he might need in his new charge. Thenm they invited him to go fishing with them. As they were sitting in the boat about fifty yards from shore, the priest said he was thirsty. But they had left the cooler on the dock. The Rabbi said, "I'll get it." With that he stepped out of the left side of the boat, walked to the dock, and returned with the cooler. Later the rabbi hooked a large trout, but the net had been left on the dock also. So the priest stepped out of the left side of the boat, walked to the dock, and returned with the net. By this time the young minister was a little red in the face. Then the old priest said that he had left his knife on the dock and he couldn't get the hook out of the fish's mouth. The young minister stood up and said, "I'll get it!" With that, he stepped out the right side of the boat an prompted sank to his eyebrows. The rabbi turned to the priest and said, "Well Father, if we're gonna' help this boy, we should start by showing him where the steppin' stones are."


That ought to be enough. My folklorific theory is that most of these jokes were created and popularized during the 1880-1920 period, when the great wave of European immigration hit the U.S. Catholics (from Ireland and Italy) and Jews (from Eastern Europe) were crammed into ethnic neighborhoods in major Eastern cities, thrown up against one another's customs and traditions. Comparing cultural notes would certainly result in jokes such as these. It's only a theory, though.

I know you were asking specifically about the bar variety, but I wondered if you knew about the antecedents.
posted by Miko at 6:44 PM on May 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


Heh.
posted by Miko at 6:50 PM on May 7, 2006


>Most often, it's anti-semitic, but some versions are anti-Catholic.

Lighten up. Most jokes about Jews, Catholics, etc. are not offensive or anti- anything. As is shown by these numerous examples, including your several offerings, they tend to make a sharp point about some aspect of culture or belief that most often needs a bit of a jab.

Miko - haven't we seen you on some blog, under another name?
posted by megatherium at 7:17 PM on May 7, 2006


Admit it...you're trying to win the New Yorker's Cartoon Caption Contest, aren't you?
posted by dhammond at 7:46 PM on May 7, 2006


dhammond, you didn't click my "Heh" link, did you?

megatherium, er, no. You've seen me on MeFi. And the "offensive" thing was simply offered by way of warning; I study folklore, and deal with content that different audiences might be more or less sensitive to. It's worth warning people that the content of what they're about to read might not please them, and to make clear it's offered as information, not endorsement. I certainly understand the purposes of humor.

But I wouldn't say that a joke that turns on, for instance, the idea that Jews are cheap is "a sharp point about some aspect of culture or belief that most often needs a jab." It's pretty much anti-Semitic, and that was the purpose for which it was created.
posted by Miko at 8:03 PM on May 7, 2006


Here's what I think. The rabbi, the priest and the minister are a classic joke trinity, like the Englishman, the Scots man and the Irishman.

Likewise, "an X walks into a bar" is a classic opening line.

"A rabbi, a priest, and a minister walk into a bar" is a combination - a humorous conflation of these two lines.

In fact now I've just read Miko's first post more closely, and I agree.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:11 PM on May 7, 2006


Yeah, on 2nd thought, joe's spleen has it; it's a blending of two classic set-ups. And pyramid termite, you're also right, of course. That classic walk-on-water joke should have started with a Jew and an atheist, with the punchline aimed at a priest/minister.
posted by mediareport at 9:41 PM on May 7, 2006


Er, Miko and joe's_spleen, I mean.
posted by mediareport at 9:42 PM on May 7, 2006


(AskMe about jokes always get many participants)...
posted by growabrain at 9:45 PM on May 7, 2006


That said, it's also a very offensive variety of joke. Most often, it's anti-semitic, but some versions are anti-Catholic.

Well, as a Jew, I find most of the Priest-Minister-Rabbi jokes in which the Rabbi provides the punchline downright flattering: usually the Jew is presented is being witty, shrewd, and full of common sense--and if he's a little less than selfless and contrite, it's because he knows you need to have chutzpah to do fend for yourself in a gentile world. Anyone who seriously finds these anti-semitic can't be too familiar with the kind of jokes and stories Ashkenazi Jews tell about themselves, which are often far less gracious. I think it's a staple of Eastern Europeans humour in general to cast people as compromised, miserly and petty vis-à-vis the noble ideals they set out for themselves (cf. The Good Soldier Švejk, or Bohumil Hrabal's I served the King of England, or Ephraim Kishon, or a thousand and one other examples.) The bottom line is always that people are lovable in all their petty transgressions and misdeeds, and that only a miserably self-righteous consciousness (see for example T.S. Eliot, who it seems really saw this kind of "Jewishness" as the antithesis of great culture) would think otherwise.
posted by ori at 11:53 PM on May 7, 2006


From here:

RELIGIOUS JOKE #5
A Priest, a Minister, and a Rabbi are walking down the street. They discuss, together, the various traditions and beliefs of their different religions.
Each leaves with a greater respect for the other and a deeper understanding of the world.
posted by redteam at 1:37 AM on May 8, 2006


"downright flattering"

Indeed. I would wager that Jews have manufactured far more of these jokes than gentiles. And I wish we could claim Hasek for our own, though he's entirely Czech.

"the meta-joke is funny only because it marries two of the most popular joke memes in history."

And yeah, Miko got there first, and no wonder with all that intellectual horsepower of hers. I just couldn't let all that typing go to waste.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:40 AM on May 8, 2006


not to be self-promoting, redteam, but I direct your attention to the top 11 German jokes.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:46 AM on May 8, 2006


A rabbi, a priest, and a minister walk into a bar. The bartender looks at them and says, "What is this, a meta-joke?"
posted by ori at 2:11 AM on May 8, 2006


Megatherium, I think there's a seed of racism, sexism, or other -isms in a great many jokes. Yep, I've heard Jewish people tell anti-Semitic jokes, etc., but I still cringe when I hear them.
posted by theora55 at 9:18 AM on May 8, 2006


A rabbi, a priest, and a minister walk into a bar. You'd think one of them would have noticed. (rimshot)
posted by fletchmuy at 9:34 AM on May 8, 2006


redteam - someone at McSweeney's is channelling John Thompson's old Bernard Righton character (a parody of sexist, racist club comic Bernard Manning):

A Rabbi, a Priest, and a Minister walk into a bar... what a wonderful example of a multi-faith society, ladies and gentlemen.

or

There’s an English feller and a Jewish feller at a bus stop and the English feller says 'What times the bus due?'... and the Jewish feller says 'About half past seven'. (Which surely counts as a meta-meta-joke...)
posted by jack_mo at 8:32 PM on May 16, 2006


« Older Recommend some quality, crowd-...   |  Adobe Premiere Pro question...... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.


Post