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  #1  
Old 08-10-2005, 09:17 PM
HubZilla HubZilla is offline
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How did the Challenger jokes spread?

I've always wondered about this phenomenon. Right after the Challenger disaster, all these jokes appeared. We were out of school for some reason the day of the explosion. The next day, back in school, people were telling jokes about it. You've heard them, I'm sure.

Q: What were Christa McAuliffe's last words?
A: "What's this button do?"

Q: What does NASA stand for?
A: Need Another Seven Astronauts

Q: Did you know that NASA has a new space drink?
A: Ocean Spray - It was their second choice because they couldn't
get 7-UP.

Q: What subject did Christa MacAuliffe teach?
A: Social studies . . . but now she's history.

And many more. I was living in New Jersey at the time, but everyone seems to remember hearing those jokes shortly after the disaster. Now other people who've heard the jokes may not have heard them the day after, but may think the did. But I did hear them the day after and I cannot believe they started in Cape May, NJ.

So, assuming everyone else is correct in hearing them the day after, how did they spread so quickly? This was before the internet was a major presence. The jokes were too tasteless to appear on any TV or radio shows.
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  #2  
Old 08-10-2005, 09:35 PM
Cunctator Cunctator is offline
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They were all being told in Australia soon afterwards too. Perhaps some of the jokes occurred spontaneously at different places around the world independently of each other? It's certainly conceivable that the "NASA=Need another seven astronauts" joke could have occurred to more than one person in the English speaking world. As for their transmission: I certainly remember seeing some of them in newspapers.
  #3  
Old 08-10-2005, 09:59 PM
pinkfreud pinkfreud is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HubZilla
The jokes were too tasteless to appear on any TV or radio shows.
A radio DJ in my town told a long string of Challenger jokes. The public outcry was considerable, and the DJ lost his job. I guess this dork thought that he was being "edgy."
  #4  
Old 08-10-2005, 10:17 PM
Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy is offline
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"What's this?"

(Person strikes match, tosses it to the floor)

" the first teacher in space."









runs away
  #5  
Old 08-10-2005, 10:22 PM
Sattua Sattua is offline
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It has long been the goal of humor researchers to witness the "birth" of a joke--the first telling of a joke that eventually becomes widely known. Unfortunately, it has never been observed, though it must of course *happen* on a fairly regular basis. Anyway: if anyone ever did witness an original telling of a joke that later became famous, there are people who want to know about it.

I'm SERIOUS
  #6  
Old 08-10-2005, 10:22 PM
Cliffy Cliffy is offline
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I think you're probably misremembering how quickly the jokes spread. But they certainly did spread quickly because for a long time this is all anyone talked about. (BTW, how did they know Judy Resnick had dandruff? They found her head & shoulders on the beach.)

--Cliffy
  #7  
Old 08-10-2005, 10:32 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is online now
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The internet was not a huge thing with the general public in 1986, but it was definitely around. And joke lists like this were the kind of thing being sent back then. So while 99% of the people may not have heard these jokes directly from the internet, they were probably getting them second hand from the 1% cutting edge geeks.
  #8  
Old 08-10-2005, 10:35 PM
Revtim Revtim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HubZilla
We were out of school for some reason the day of the explosion.
I was too, and it drove me nuts trying to remember why we had the day off. Still don't remember.
  #9  
Old 08-10-2005, 10:44 PM
Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy is offline
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Who probably had the day off because Christa McAuliffe was " the first teacher in space". A lot of schools brought TVs in.
  #10  
Old 08-10-2005, 10:45 PM
Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy is offline
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Who You
  #11  
Old 08-10-2005, 10:47 PM
Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy
Who probably had the day off because Christa McAuliffe was " the first teacher in space". A lot of schools brought TVs in.
I just realized I'm probably being whooshed :wally
  #12  
Old 08-10-2005, 10:48 PM
Q.E.D. Q.E.D. is offline
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Did you know all their eyes were blue? Yep, it's true...




















One blew this way, one blew that way, one blew over there....
  #13  
Old 08-10-2005, 10:54 PM
Revtim Revtim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy
I just realized I'm probably being whooshed :wally
If you mean you think I was making some kind of joke, no, I wasn't. I really had the day off from some reason. I was a JR in high school, FWIW.
  #14  
Old 08-10-2005, 11:07 PM
Rufus Xavier Rufus Xavier is offline
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We had the Monday the 27th off for Martin Luther King Day, but I was in school on Tuesday, January 28, 1986.
  #15  
Old 08-10-2005, 11:07 PM
NurseCarmen NurseCarmen is offline
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I worked with a former stock broker, and he said one thing he missed was how quickly jokes would spread throughout the country due to their constant chatter. He knew that Pope John Paul was polish before the smoke had cleared the chimney, due to the sheer number of polish pope jokes he suddenly heard, before any major news outlet had even announced the pick.
  #16  
Old 08-10-2005, 11:14 PM
Imasquare Imasquare is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo
The internet was not a huge thing with the general public in 1986, but it was definitely around. And joke lists like this were the kind of thing being sent back then.
Perhaps the joke lists were spread by via fax machines?
  #17  
Old 08-10-2005, 11:17 PM
Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Revtim
If you mean you think I was making some kind of joke, no, I wasn't. I really had the day off from some reason. I was a JR in high school, FWIW.
Yes. That's what I suspected. I thought maybe the country had a national day off school or something that I didn't remember.

I was in the Navy in Key West. A couple of the ships from my squadron were involved in the search.
  #18  
Old 08-10-2005, 11:21 PM
AncientHumanoid AncientHumanoid is offline
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I remember getting fax lists of jokes and urban legends in the 80s, some of the same of which continue their sorry lives each time someone new finds the internet.

What did Christa McAuliffe tell her husband before she boarded the shuttle?

"Be sure you feed the kids, I'll feed the fish."
  #19  
Old 08-10-2005, 11:21 PM
astorian astorian is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NurseCarmen
I worked with a former stock broker, and he said one thing he missed was how quickly jokes would spread throughout the country due to their constant chatter. He knew that Pope John Paul was polish before the smoke had cleared the chimney, due to the sheer number of polish pope jokes he suddenly heard, before any major news outlet had even announced the pick.
Funny you shouyld bring up stockbrokers.

My memory is a bit hazy, but back in the 80's, I remember seeing an article in "New York" magazine on this very subject. The author wondered about how jokes were spread so quickly in the aftermath of a disaster.

Anyway, just a few days after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the author heard a new joke making the rounds: "What has feathers and glows in the dark? Chicken Kiev!"

The author figured this was a perfect test case. He started doing serious trace work, asking "Who told you that joke," then tracking down THAT person, asking HIM where he'd heard it, then tracking down THAT person...

Eventually it was a dead end, but... interestingly, Wall Street seemed to be the source. And that made sense, since people in the financial community are constantly on the phone with other financial people all over the country (indeed, all over the world).

So, while stockbrokers may not be the ones making up jokes, it's quite possible that, in the pre-internet age, they were the ones SPREADING the jokes from coast to coast.
  #20  
Old 08-10-2005, 11:54 PM
Otto Otto is offline
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Quote:
Q: What does NASA stand for?
A: Need Another Seven Astronauts
Or in the alternative, Now Accepting Seven Applications.

What did Christa leave for her students?
A blown-up picture of herself.

Why didn't Christa bathe before the flight?
She figured she'd either shower back on Earth or wash up on shore.

My mother insists that I tell these every time I'm home. She claims to hate them, but she luahgs every time. Then she insists on hearing the Helen Keller jokes, which are every bit as appalling, and she laughs even harder.
  #21  
Old 08-11-2005, 12:01 AM
pinkfreud pinkfreud is offline
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Regarding the spread of jokes, just about every large office in the '70s and '80s had a teletype device called a TWX. A huge number of jokes and cartoons were circulated all over the country by this method. The TWX in the state government office where I worked was more often used as a humor-transmittal machine than for its intended purpose, which was the rapid distribution of memos and other text to a large number of branch offices.
  #22  
Old 08-11-2005, 12:20 AM
Happy Lendervedder Happy Lendervedder is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cunctator
They were all being told in Australia soon afterwards too.
"How did the Challenger jokes spread?"

Similar to the astronauts, very quickly, across the ocean.
  #23  
Old 08-11-2005, 12:23 AM
Dr. Rieux Dr. Rieux is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NurseCarmen
I worked with a former stock broker, and he said one thing he missed was how quickly jokes would spread throughout the country due to their constant chatter. He knew that Pope John Paul was polish before the smoke had cleared the chimney, due to the sheer number of polish pope jokes he suddenly heard, before any major news outlet had even announced the pick.
Q. Why are they building a bowling alley in the Vatican?
A. So the Pope can have someplace to cash his paycheck!
  #24  
Old 08-11-2005, 12:37 AM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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It's funny... I was born in 1982, and I never heard a Challenger joke (I thought it was considered one of those 'untouchable' topics for most people) until I saw one on the Clerks cartoon DVD. I cracked up AND I was amazed by their brass, but maybe I shouldn't have been.
  #25  
Old 08-11-2005, 12:39 AM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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Q. Who makes the world's most expensive fish food?
A. NASA.
  #26  
Old 08-11-2005, 12:54 AM
uglybeech uglybeech is offline
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Only one I remember is really bad:

As the shuttle took off, what was the last thing that went through Christa McAuliffe's head?

Her helmet.
  #27  
Old 08-11-2005, 12:55 AM
SnakesCatLady SnakesCatLady is offline
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I was in the lobby of the Georgia State University College of Law when I received the news of the disaster. I ran down the hall to the Law Review office, where I saw the replays of that tragedy.

The very next day I heard:

"Where did the Challenger crew spend their vacation?"

"All over Florida."
  #28  
Old 08-11-2005, 02:16 AM
Cunctator Cunctator is offline
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The one that I remember most is:

Q. How deep is the water off the coast of Florida?

A. 14 feet
  #29  
Old 08-11-2005, 03:00 AM
Sengkelat Sengkelat is offline
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What do Tupperware, a Walrus, and NASA have in common?

They're all looking for a tight seal.

I was in school when the Challenger went up, so I know it wasn't a national US holiday that day.
  #30  
Old 08-11-2005, 03:13 AM
Measure for Measure Measure for Measure is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astorian
Funny you shouyld bring up stockbrokers.

My memory is a bit hazy, but back in the 80's, I remember seeing an article in "New York" magazine on this very subject. The author wondered about how jokes were spread so quickly in the aftermath of a disaster.

Anyway, just a few days after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the author heard a new joke making the rounds: "What has feathers and glows in the dark? Chicken Kiev!"
That was known as The Joke.

It appeared to be making the rounds literally within hours of the news hitting the US.

I remember that article as well. Wall Street's efficient transmission of sick jokes was well known at the time.
  #31  
Old 08-11-2005, 05:21 AM
Baker Baker is offline
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Even the kids at the high school where Christa taught were in school. I remember seeing a picture of some of them. They'd gathered in an auditorium with a big screen TV or something. Some were wearing pointy party hats, with noisemakers and all. The picture was a sad one, kids with their mouths agape in horror and disbelief, still wearing party hats.
  #32  
Old 08-11-2005, 05:39 AM
Lsura Lsura is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Revtim
I was too, and it drove me nuts trying to remember why we had the day off. Still don't remember.
Ours was just a standard teacher inservice day, but we were off as well.


And I remember the jokes happening pretty quickly as well - I think I remember almost all that have been mentioned so far.
  #33  
Old 08-11-2005, 05:48 AM
manx manx is offline
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I was born in 1983, so the way I learnt about the Challenger was from the jokes, of which I only ever heard two - the 'what does NASA stand for' one, and 'How do you fit seven astronauts in a mini?'.

Telling these jokes involved making sure your intended audience knew what the Challanger disaster was - they normally didn't, so why tell 'em? Ah, pre-teen humour, no reason required.
  #34  
Old 08-11-2005, 06:33 AM
Zeldar Zeldar is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkfreud
Regarding the spread of jokes, just about every large office in the '70s and '80s had a teletype device called a TWX. A huge number of jokes and cartoons were circulated all over the country by this method. The TWX in the state government office where I worked was more often used as a humor-transmittal machine than for its intended purpose, which was the rapid distribution of memos and other text to a large number of branch offices.
I can attest to similar phenomena in a company whose FAX machines, if there were any, were limited in their access. XEROX machines were commonly used for dissemination of jokes. But the main source for jokes was "the circuit." There were 20 or so people I'd make the rounds with almost daily, sharing new ones I'd heard and picking up other new ones on the route. Traveling people in the organization would be the main source of new stuff.

But the speed of spread was phenomenal and I recall the disaster jokes being as quick as cited in the OP. Other traumatizing events got similar treatment through jokes and other varieties of humor.

In my own opinion, the Internet has ruined joke telling. Reading a joke is next to nothing compared with a well-told (and well-acted) one. So few people can even tell a joke nowadays. Tone of voice, timing and pacing, inflection, facial expression, etc., are all needed for a joke to work well. Reading jokes off websites or getting them in e-mail is a pitiful substitute. You get lots more of them, but they don't have the punch old jokes did.

Sigh.
  #35  
Old 08-11-2005, 07:29 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sattua
It has long been the goal of humor researchers to witness the "birth" of a joke--the first telling of a joke that eventually becomes widely known. Unfortunately, it has never been observed, though it must of course *happen* on a fairly regular basis. Anyway: if anyone ever did witness an original telling of a joke that later became famous, there are people who want to know about it.

I'm SERIOUS
Asimov, wasn't it?
  #36  
Old 08-11-2005, 07:52 AM
AncientHumanoid AncientHumanoid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout
Asimov, wasn't it?
Extra-terrestrial origin.
  #37  
Old 08-11-2005, 08:05 AM
Daithi Lacha Daithi Lacha is offline
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I was in college, hanging in my dorm room when the explosion occured. Within a literal span of minutes, one of the guys from next door was running in to tell us some sick jokes. As I know for a confirmed fact that they had no fax machines, computers or stock marketeers in their room, I wonder did I witness the afterbirth of a spontaneous joke eruption?

I told one of the jokes to a female friend of mine who was from Melbourne, Florida (not a long way from Cape Canaveral). She turned around and slapped my face - hard. Besides feeling guilty (and sore), I wondered: how much of her reaction was knee-jerk; how seriously did this affect her life? 3 years later, for a political science class, I conducted a poll: How Much Do You Remember About the Challenger Disaster? It consisted of about 10 easy questions.

Miss Face-slapper scored about 30%.
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  #38  
Old 08-11-2005, 08:41 AM
Trunk Trunk is offline
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A plausible theory: Keep in mind that a lot of the jokes were just recycled Natalie Wood and Grace Kelly jokes, both of whom had died famously within a few years of the Challenger explosion.

So it wasn't a big stretch to just plug 'em into the new disaster.

Were they invented for Grace Kelly & Natalie Wood, or were those retellings from previous tragedies? Doesn't really matter as it pertains to the Challenger.

This thread reminds me of Hudsucker Proxy. The CEO jumps out the window, and like 2 seconds later they cut to the mail room guy in the elevator and he's got like 50 jokes about it.
  #39  
Old 08-11-2005, 08:54 AM
An Arky An Arky is offline
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The one I remember hearing was

What were the last words transmitted from the cockpit of Challenger?

No! Bud Light!

...which was based on an advertising slogan at the time where characters would ask for a light, get blown up or something, then say No! Bud Light!
  #40  
Old 08-11-2005, 09:25 AM
Larry Griffin Larry Griffin is offline
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My colleague and I agree that the underlying question is a good one (how do jokes spread so quickly), but this thread is nothing more than a repository for horrible jokes.

This is closed.

Cajun Man
for the SDMB

Last edited by Larry Griffin; 08-11-2005 at 10:10 AM..
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