Let it happen, cap'n.

I hear this story from time to time, but can’t find it on Snopes. Just today, it was related to me again as a firsthand account. It always concerns a group of blacks water skiing on a lake. The boat takes off with one of them sitting on the dock holding onto the rope. The skier says “Let it happen, cap’n” and the result varies from splinters in his ass to having his arms pulled out.

Where can I find a cite for this urban legend?

You’ve made over 5,000 posts at the SDMB and still haven’t figured out how to use Google??? :wink:


Specifically, read this:


“The “Ski King” legend is mentioned in Jan H. Brunvand’s The Choking
Doberman and Other “New” Urban Legends
, New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
(1984); ISBN 0-393-30321-7.”

Didn’t even think of Google after I got zero on Snopes. :smack: Thanks for the cites. I can’t believe this old chestnut is still surfacing after all these years.

I heard that as a kid in South Georgia back in the early 1970s, although the version I heard used the phrase “Are you ready, ski-cat?” rather than “ski king”, and the victim had wrapped the tow rope around his waist like a bathrobe sash.

Now the question is: Do I confront the storyteller and embarrass him, or do I just let it pass. I’m leaning to the latter, although if I hear it from him again, I may have to say something.

If it’s a first hand account, and his arms have been ripped off, you can ask if … nevermind

This story, true or false, is hysterical if told well. First of all, the Ski Master and the Cap’n need to be portrayed as well-inebriated throughout. The version I first heard has them backing a (stolen) boat and trailer into the water, unhooking the trailer (!) and letting it roll down the ramp to Davy Jones’ Locker. They go through a Two Stooges routine setting up their boat, then Ski Master stands on the concrete pier, and the Cap’n hollers the hysterical question:

“Aaaare you rrrrready, SKI MASTER?”

“Make it happen, CAP’N!”

The boat is revved to full speed immediately, Ski Master is yanked down, faceplants on the concrete, screaming horribly, and is dragged off out of sight by the Cap’n, who doesn’t realize what he has done. Ski Master is portrayed as too dumb (or too stunned) to let go.

The version I heard came from North Carolina, and I first heard it in the early 90s. The person telling it (Phil) was also a master at telling Jimmy Buffett’s version of Lord Buckley’s “God’s Own Drunk”, and the classic highway patrol story that ends with the Star Wars fan telling the State Trooper “These aren’t the drugs you’re looking for.” It should be clear to anyone listening that these stories are fiction – but it’s bad form to call the storyteller on his b.s.; it’s much cooler to have a similar shaggy dog story tucked away in your repertoire. By telling your story as broadly and ridiculously as possible, you point out the absurdity of his tale politely, and entertain everyone at the same time.

Somehow a tale of drunken black men behaving stupidly in a stolen boat just isn’t amusing to me. But to each his own.

I had a friend who told our group a very amusing story about Japanese worker as happening at her husband’s company. Shortly afterwards I found the account in a humor book. I wasn’t sure if she had had her leg pulled or if she was the source, until a separate occation when she related another story from the same book as a personal story.

I let it go, and have debated that (lack of) response for the last 12 years! I’d go with Jurph’s approach.

Let me guess: “Supplies!”

Bunch of black guys at the beach . . . bones from fried chicken, watermelon rinds, and a big ol’ pile of empty malt liquor bottles, and then they decided to go water skiing . . . what better set up to a joke?

Yeah, somehow, racist humor doesn’t really make me laugh either. I’m pretty sure Jurph isn’t racist; I’m guessing that in its original incarnation, or at least in some incarnations, it doesn’t specify the race of our hapless heroes.

We didn’t do dock starts, but my aunt used to. We did do jump starts from the beach, where you would take several arm spans of slack and let the boat get the right amount of speed going. Too little slack and you sink because the boat doesn’t have enough speed when the rope tightens. The problem was usually too much slack and the boat is going way too fast and pulls the handle out of your grip. It’s kind of like trying to grap a train as it passes.

Good god! No, the story that I heard did not specify race, color, or what they had eaten for lunch. Just that they were idiots.

And idiots are funny.

Yet as we speak, Martin Lawrence and Cedric the Entertainer are in a bidding war for the screen rights to this thread.

Fair 'nuff.

…I still don’t see how this is a “joke”… it seems like a intended to be amusing anecdote…
Why would this make the rounds?

You’ve hit it right on the head. It’s a shaggy dog story, intended to take most of its humor from the telling. Each storyteller puts his own spin on the story, stretching it out until credibility strains, and then closes the story with a quick punchline or closer. In this case, the punch line is the ridiculous idea that these two hooligans, who had stolen a water-skiing boat and who had no idea how to use it, nonetheless have a witty exchange right before they start the boat motor. The two key lines in the story – "Are you ready, ski-master?"and
“Make it happen, cap’n!” – are to be delivered with all the gusto the teller can summon. The story should be so ridiculous at that point that just hearing “happen” and “cap’n” rhymed together in whatever absurd accent the teller has given them makes the audience bust a gut laughing.

Similar stories include The Aristocrats (safe for work, but links in the article may not be), Alice’s Restaurant to some extent, Jimmy Buffett’s "God’s Own Drunk (aka “The Bear”), and pretty much any tall tale. If someone in the military says to you, “No shit, there I was,” you know you’re in for a shaggy dog story. If your grandpa says “Did I ever tell you about the time…” then you know you’re in for a shaggy dog story. They make the rounds when they translate easily to text, which is a shame, because the best ones don’t translate.