Bashful gorilla

Bashful guerrilla gorilla

Does anyone here know the joke about the bashful gorilla? I don’t, and can’t find it upon (an admittedly desultory) search. …

Next question: Did the audience in the 1950s know the joke? Or did some yes but some no? Edit: No, some site said these reruns were from the first two years of the comic strip, hence 1950-51 roughly. But a bit of digital magnification shows the blurry info at the left of the last panel includes what looks like a “1964”. It doesn’t matter much here, but was significant for the “Viet Nam” strip a couple weeks ago.

Next: Or was there never even a particular joke? Was it simply a tease all along? And would that matter? Would the comic strip gag work anyway, and would it be enuff?


  1. Can’t think of a joke about a “bashful gorilla,” but I could adopt an old one to sort-of qualify, so maybe someone had done so before?

    A lion was strutting through the jungle and came across a zebra which he began to bully: “Who’s the King of the Jungle?” “Oh, sir, you are,” fawned the zebra nervously. He walked on and came to an antelope and asked “Who’s the King of the Jungle?” and got the reply, “Who but you, oh mighty ruler?” Pressing his luck, he came next to a gorilla and asked “Who’s the King of the Jungle?” The gorilla stared at him for a moment, then picked the lion up by his tail, swung him around his head twice, tossed him against a tree, ambled over, jumped up and down on him a few times, and then walked off. The bruised and bloody lion called after him “Well, you don’t have to get so embarassed just because you didn’t know the answer!”

    (As I suggested above, the usual/original ? punchline is “don’t have to get mad just because…”

  2. I assume this is a “noodle incident” or “a priest and a rabbi” setup. Just a funny pair of words and probably no joke behind them.

  3. I agree with Powers: the strip works even if “bashful gorilla” is just a placeholder for a generic joke.
    P.S. Despite the “©1964” date, I don’t think any wordplay on “guerilla warfare” was intended. The nastier parts of the war in Vietnam were not yet common knowledge, and that would not have been a subject that Walker would have wanted to joke about in any case.

  4. “I assume this is a “noodle incident” or “a priest and a rabbi” setup. Just a funny pair of words and probably no joke behind them.”

    “I agree with Powers: the strip works even if “bashful gorilla” is just a placeholder for a generic joke.[emphasis mine]”

    “Even”? I’d say it only works if it’s a placeholder for a generic joke.

    To be frank, I’m surprised anyone would think there was an actual joke.
    Orange is the New Black had a similar joke with a surreal setup and punchline … A farmer and a penguin walk into a bar….. and the farmer says “He’s not an eggplant; he’s retarded”

  5. Woozy posits: To be frank, I’m surprised anyone would think there was an actual joke.

    Well, I wasn’t confident about how this sort of thing would work in 1964.

  6. Well, in ’64 they wouldn’t have had the term “noodle incident” but the concept is eternal.

    It’s a weird side-effect of the information age that we have to meta analyze everything and once we make a term for something, afterwards we feel every instance of the concept is a direct reference to the, often arbitrary, example we set as the definition.

    There were noodle incidences before the noodle incident.

    If there weren’t …. how would anyone have gotten the joke about the noodle incident when it was first published? Did we have a flurry of readers doing a Cow Tools (see what I did there?) and calling the newspapers up angrily “I don’t get this Calvin and Hobbes; the dad’s referring to an incident we never heard of! What’s the joke? How are we supposed to know whats funny if we don’t know what happened with the noodle?”?

  7. As I recall, in Nabokov’s Lolita, Humbert mentions a few particularly notable items in Quilty’s pornography collection. He doesn’t go into much detail, but gives just enough information to allow one to run off to Google, if Google were a thing in 1955. (It is now, and none of the items are real, I think.) It’s noodly in that one is kind of left to imagine how perverted the stuff is, without knowing really anything about it.

  8. “It’s noodly in that one is kind of left to imagine how perverted the stuff is, without knowing really anything about it.”

    One imagines Mrs Campbell’s comment about “not frightening the horses” has a bit of a noodly nature.

    And according to the Pastafarians the FSM has been touching us all with his noodlely appendage since the very fist midget, mountain and tree. Maybe there’s something to this noodle incident. Maybe Calvin’s Dad’s law firm is a sect of Flying Spaghetti Monster (a la Keanu Reeves character in “Devil’s Advocate”) and “Noodle Incident” is a term for the act of creation. We’ve been interpreting the strip all wrong– maybe Calvin’s Dad belongs to a Calvinist branch of the Pastafarians and is saying Calvin’s irresponsible nature has been preordained since the very act of creation.

  9. As far as I recall, the :noodle incident” happened at school and is only discussed between Calvin and Hobbes. In the comments of the strip on GoComics, there are some participants that believe that Hobbes really does come to life when no one else is around and others that prefer the “it’s all Calvin’s imagination” view.

  10. “As far as I recall, the :noodle incident” happened at school and is only discussed between Calvin and Hobbes. ”

    Ah… an excuse to break out my Complete Calvin and Hobbes collection.

    Because as I recall it was when Calvin was complaining to his father about having Rosalind as a baby sitter and his Dad cited the noodle incident as a reason why Calvin should be grateful to have any one at all….. (Although… maybe you are right. that sounds like it might… fit.)

  11. It would probably be distracting if Beetle referenced a real joke. “Did you hear the joke about the Trids?” Then you’d think through the joke trying to guess whether Zero would get it or not. Does Zero know about the Trix Rabbit? Has he seen the commercial? And you’d be so distracted that by the time you got to the punch line you’d forget the setup.

    Lewis Carroll has the Mad Hatter ask Alice “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” It was just a nonsensical question that had no answer, but so many people wrote to him asking “I give up, why is a raven like a writing desk?” that he had to make up not just one but two possible answers.

  12. We were just yesterday (or seems like it) mentioning Martin Gardner! His Annotated Alice is a wonder of information and insight; and is surely where I first heard of the history of attempts to answer the riddle. (Which actually I don’t recall but will go off and read.)

  13. I don’t recall the Noodle Incident, but for decades I’ve been wondering about just what a Sleeve Job entails.

    As for what a lion and a zebra are doing in The Jungle, it’s probably the name of the bar. I heard the joke from a priest, a minister, and a rabbi who just happened to be on safari there at the time.

  14. Q: Why is a raven like a writing desk?
    A: They’re both smaller than Mercury and most of their mass is baryonic.

  15. Q: Why is life like hanging upsidedown with your head in a bucket of hyena offal?
    A: I don’t know; why is life like hanging upsidedown with your head in a bucket of hyena offal?
    Q: I don’t know either; wretched, isn’t it?

  16. Dysfunctional: Rule 34 suggests you can find those items if you look…doesn’t mean you’ll be glad you did, mind you!

  17. Carl Fink: Gorillas are OK, but I think the objection was to the lion and the zebra. (Probably they were visiting friends or something.)

  18. I wonder if earlier generations did not feel they had to know the bashful gorilla joke or whatever; if they felt they had to know what the joke is and nobody nearby knew, they could make up such a joke. Now we have to google it and then get frustrated when we can’t find it, so we discuss it on a website with inconclusive results. Was it a happier time? Ignorance is bliss.

  19. On the subject of C&H: Calvin’s favorite bedtime book was Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie. Obviously, there was no such book and the readers were never told anything about it other than the title, making it a tidy noodle. Of course, a few years ago someone had to ruin the joke by actually writing a series of Hamster Huey books.

  20. Long long ago, long before Calvin & Hobbes, I read some kiddy books in a series about Rootie Kazootie. The one I remember, and perhaps owned, was something like “Rootie Kazootie and the Polka Dot Pineapple Pie” with the villain Poison Zanziboo. That was probably where I got the idea that “poison green” was a normal color name, and why I later was amazed that there was a real place called Zanzibar.

    Trying to look it up, I see it was best known as a TV series, with puppets!

  21. Title: Rootie Kazootie and the pineapple pies /
    Author(s): Barrow, John.
    Crawford, Mel.
    Publication: Racine, Wis. : Whitman Publishing Co.,
    Edition: Authorized ed.
    Year: 1953
    Description: [28] : color illustrations ; 17 cm.
    Language: English
    Series: Tell-a-tale books ;; 936:15;
    Descriptor: Pies — Juvenile fiction.
    Genre/Form: Fiction.
    Juvenile works.
    Responsibility: by John Barrow ; illustrated by Mel Crawford.

  22. “Of course, a few years ago someone had to ruin the joke by actually writing a series of Hamster Huey books.”

    I seem to recall some unauthorized fan doing the same with the Koontz-quoted nonbook THE BOOK OF COUNTED SORROWS, causing Koontz to (a) quickly suppress said publication and (b) issue his own version. But the Wikipedia articles and the WorldCat recores for the “real” book don’t make mention of the abortive plagarism, only the version Koontz did eventually issue himself, so perhaps I misremember.

    Some of the books in Wikipedia’s “List of Fictional Books” have also eventually “appeared” (notably, of course, THE NECRONOMICON — many times over).

  23. I checked that list looking for something I might recognize as the particular instance I was trying to remember, which involved Philip José Farmer as one or the other side of the mirror.

    But Farmer’s Wikipedia article puts it right at in the first paragraph:
    occasional tongue-in-cheek pseudonymous works written as if by fictional characters.

    Further down they elaborate on the particularly infamous case I was thinking of but couldn’t remember, “Venus on the Half-Shell” —

    It purported to be written in the first person by one "Kilgore Trout," a fictional character appearing as an underappreciated science fiction writer in several of Kurt Vonnegut's novels. The escapade did not please Vonnegut when some reviewers not only concluded that it had been written by Vonnegut himself, but that it was a worthy addition to his works. Farmer did have permission from Vonnegut to write the book, though Vonnegut later said he regretted giving permission.

  24. I read “Venus on the Half-shell” before the author was revealed and my friends felt it had to have been written by Vonnegut because as Vonnegut had created Kilgore Trout this has to have been Vonnegut’s creation. I somehow didn’t think so as Vonnegut would write annectdotes and include them in books and say “Hey, I wrote this because it makes a point” but it just wasn’t like him to create a …. sculpture… or painting and leave it unexplained…

    I had a “Rootie Kazootie” comic book. It was a 50s kid obsessed with baseball. The gag on the cover was RK was rolled a pie crust using a baseball bat as a rolling pin. (Ha-ha?)

    Well, I was wrong about the noodle incident involving Calvin’s dad and Rosalyn the baby sitter. There were two which mentioned the noodle incident by name. One where Hobbes thinks it might affect Calvins status on Santa’s list, and one where Hobbes says Calvin should be good at written fiction as demonstrated by his version of the noodle incident. There are two other strips that might immediately preceed and follow the noodle incident: one where Calvin puts noodles in a paper bag for his report on the brain which he will write during the bus ride to school; and this one where … oh words can not explain

  25. Excellent find! It doesn’t use the word “incident” but this may well be the immediate occasion.

  26. Another example of a work of art written after being catalogued is a piece by composer Ezra Sims. Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Music had a list of his works including “String Quartet #2 (1962)” which didn’t exist. So after finding this out, in 1974 when he wrote a piece for flute, clarinet, 2 violins, viola and cello he named it “String Quartet #2 (1962)”.

  27. In defense of Mitch4, “poison green” appears to be sometimes used to mean
    “Paris green”,
    a copper/arsenic compound used as a pesticide and a
    wallpaper colorant. Gives a whole new meaning to waiting
    “in the green room” – could be fatal to both career and person if
    one were kept waiting long enough.

  28. Brian, not a cache thing, I just fixed up the link behind the scenes.

    It was not the filetype suffix at fault — the JPG is still fine. It somehow got transcribed as an A tag not IMG, and in quotes to boot. I trimmed it down to a bare URL and let WordPress handle the linking.

  29. @ Mitch4 – After that masterful analysis and repair job, I would have nothing against (and everything for) removing the erroneous P.P.S. (and image) from my previous comment.

  30. Hey, Brian, I’m not sure what you mean by “It was still .jpg for me” — it still is jpg and was all along. The filetype extension is not an issue, if we’re talking about a choice among gif, jpg, png. It’s apparently only matters when there is none.

    I agree it’s a little mysterious how these can be treated as interchangeable, when these are actual different filetypes. And the one we supply may not be literally what the remote server calls it. But that’s what we’ve observed. Crazy!

  31. My original interpretation was that it needed to be a .gif for WP to handle it, but I saw it inline so I thought a moderator had changed the extension. However, when I looked it was a .jpg. It was an incorrect understanding of the problem on my part.

  32. A few years ago I was following “Little Nemo” at GoComics. Because the original strips filled a complete newspaper page, the dialogue was often completely illegible in a normal browser, so I started saving the images, and read them afterwards using an image viewer that had more flexible (and convenient) zooming features.
    After a while I noticed that even though all the images were roughly the same resolution (and all of them were in color), GoComics formatted the images that appeared on weekdays as .GIF files, but the strips that happened to show up on Sundays were filed in .JPG format. I figured this was a holdover from the era in which monochrome daily strips could be efficiently compressed as .GIFs, but the color images in Sunday strips would be handled more efficiently as .JPGs.

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