No Soap Radio

no soap radio

Two elephants are sitting in the bathtub. One elephant says to the other, ‘Pass the soap.’

The elephant replies to the other elephant, ‘No soap, radio!

No soap radio is a traditional punch line for a prank joke and a form of anti-humor. The body of the joke is not related to the punch line itself, but is made out to be humorous by participants in the prank. The first known reference to this form of anti-humor was in the late 1940s. The punch line is known for its use as a basic sociological and psychological experiment, specifically relating to mob mentality and the pressure to conform. The basic setup is similar to the Asch conformity experiments, in which people showed a proclivity to agree with a group despite their own judgments.

The prank involves at least two conspirators and a victim. The joke teller will catch the attention of the victim and announce his intention of telling a joke, perhaps stating that it would be particularly to the victim’s taste. The punchline of the joke will have been told to the co-conspirators beforehand, traditionally the phrase, ‘No soap, radio.’ After the joke teller says the punchline, the co-conspirators will immediately laugh uproariously, treating the joke as if it were, in fact, funny.

In effect, the joke is not to be found in the content itself, but rather in how the victim reacts to the (unfunny) punchline of the ‘joke’ as delivered by and reacted to by the conspirators. The purpose of the prank is to make the one victim of the joke’s telling respond with one of two results: false understanding (acting as if the joke is humorous when in fact the victim does not understand the joke at all); or negative understanding (expressing confusion about what the joke means and feeling left out).

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