I. The origin of it all--my string quarter joke, and a response to it:
In response to a CULTURE ALERT from many years ago about the Takács Quartet (when my cousin Roger Tapping was playing viola with them) doing the Beethoven string quartets at Alice Tully, I have received back from one of my recipients my first string quartet joke! (Well, actually, the CULTURE ALERT did contain the following:
Question: What's the definition of a string quartet?
Answer: A good violin player, a bad violin player, a former violin player, and someone who hates violin players.)
But here is the new (old) definition I just received:
The cold war
era definition of a string quartet:
"the Leningrad Philharmonic following a U.S. tour."
The floor is now open for competing entries...
II. First, another string quartet joke:
Question: What's got 8 legs, and scratches?
Answer: A string quartet.
III. And then, an email I received containing the mother lode of actual VIOLIST JOKES:
Who knew such a genre existed?!
of Violist: someone who hangs around with musicians.
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You come to a fork in the road and are unsure which way to go. Standing at the intersection are Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, a good viola player, and a bad viola player. Whom do you ask for directions? The bad viola player, of course. The other three are just figments of your imagination...
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You're careening down the road, going about 30 mph above the speed limit, when suddenly you come to a fork in the road. In the middle of the right-hand fork stands a violist. In the left-hand fork stands a conductor. You have a split-second to choose -- whom do you run down?
The conductor. Business before pleasure....
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A violist comes home late at night to discover fire trucks, police cars, and a smoking crater where his house used to be. The chief of police comes over to him and tells him, "While you were out, the conductor came to your house, killed your family, and burned it down." The violist replied, "You're kidding! The conductor came to my house?"
- - -=-=-=
Q: What's the difference between a violin and a viola?
A: A viola burns longer.
Q: What's the difference between a viola and an onion?
A: Nobody cries when you cut up a viola.
Q: What's the difference between a viola and a trampoline?
A: You don't have to take your shoes off before you jump on a viola.
Q: What's the difference between a viola and a coffin?
A: The coffin has the dead guy on the inside.
Q: What's the similarity between lightning and a violist's fingers?
A: They never strike the same place twice.
Q: What's the difference between a violist and a terrorist?
A: Terrorists have sympathizers.
Q: What do you call 10,000 violas at the bottom of the ocean?
A: A good start.
Q: Why is a violist like a terrorist?
A: They both fuck up bowings.
Q: What is the similarity between a viola joke and premature ejaculation?
A: You know it's coming and there is not a damn thing that you can do to stop it.
Q: How can you tell when the stage is level?
A: The violists drool from both sides of their mouths.
Q: What's the best recording of the Walton viola concerto?
A: Music Minus One.
Q: Why do violists leave their violas on the dashboard of their cars?
A: So they can park in handicapped zones.
Q: What do a viola solo and peeing in your pants have in common?
A: Both are embarrassing and neither can be heard.
Q: What's the difference between a viola solo and peeing in your pants?
A: You don't get that warm feeling all over after a viola solo.
Q: Why are orchestra intermissions only twenty minutes long?
A: So the violists don't need to be retrained.
Q: What is the definition of a minor second?
A: Two violists playing in unison.
Q: What do a SCUD missile and a viola player have in common?
A: They're both offensive and inaccurate.
Q: What's the range of a viola?
A: About twenty yards, if you've got a good arm.
Q: Why are violas so large?
A: It's an optical illusion. It's not that the violas are large, just that the viola player's heads are so small.
Q: What's the difference between a viola and a vacuum cleaner?
A: You have to plug in a vacuum cleaner before it sucks.
Q: What's the difference between a violist and a shaggy dog?
A: A shaggy dog knows when to stop scratching.
Q: What's the difference between a chain saw and a viola?
A: If you absolutely had to, you could use a chain saw in a string quartet.
Q: What's the difference between a viola and a power lawn mower?
A: You can tune a lawn mower.
Q: What does a violist get on an IQ test?
Q: How do you get a violist to play the part pianissimo and tremolando?
A: Write "solo" at the top.
Q: How do you get a violist to play down bow staccato?
A: Write a whole note and mark it "Solo."
Q: How do you keep your violin from getting stolen?
A: Put it in a viola case.
Q: How do you get 11 violinists to play in tune?
A: Shoot 10 of them.
Q: So really, how do you get 11 violists to play in tune?
A: Shoot 11 of them.
IV. And then an email arrived with a joke about double bass players:
I feel like I'm exploring an entirely new territory!
The maestro suddenly notices that two of his double bass players are fighting, so he stops conducting and asks them what's going on. One of the bass players replies, pointing to the other, "He down-tuned one of my strings by half a step... and he won't tell me which one!"
V. And finally, an email with two more Violist Jokes:
Question: What is the definition of a gentleman?
Answer: Someone who CAN play the viola but doesn't.
* * *
Question: What are the three most useless things in the world?
Answer: The pope's balls and a viola solo.