I was told the yellow sheep joke by a friend when I was younger. I suppose it’s more properly called an “anti-joke”, along the lines of “The Aristocrats”, a particularly famous – and terribly vulgar – joke of the same form. The point of such pointless stories being to add your own twist as you tell it – it’s the journey, not the destination that counts. The double-joke form of the yellow sheep story is, I think, an especially intelligent variation.
Ideally, the first story is told while others are also telling jokes. Naturally, you’ll be told to keep silent after telling something of that sort. Then, you wait. Usually for a few days. After which, you spring the second story on the same people. Stand back and enjoy the smug feeling that overcomes you as they wonder at your wit and intelligence. Okay, so maybe everyone won’t react that way. But the smart ones will.
And if you’re wondering why I told it in the particular way that I did… I recently handed in my second English assignment of the year. The subject I chose from the list of possibles was Geoffery Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.
The Canterbury Tales concern a group of pilgrims – travelling to Canterbury – who decide to tell stories on the way to pass the time.
Read the book – it’s very entertaining and surprisingly modern. Borrow one of my copies if you wish: I have a complete ME version and an abridged side-by-side translation.
My task was to create a ‘modern’ character that could have been among the pilgrims, write an introduction for him (In iambic pentameter and ME, no less.) and then write a summary of a story that s/he might tell.
I decided to have a comedian, of the stand-up variety, join the party. The “Tale of the Yellow Sheep” and “The Honeymoon” are the two stories that The Japere tells, at two separate points in the narrative.
I’m not going to post the poem becuase it’ll take up too much space. Ask me for it if you’re really that interested… And for some reason, I very much doubt that my inbox will be flooded with requests.