43 Comments

  1. The first panel has a joke I don’t get at all.

    And #2 clearly shows both an actual slap and her saying ‘SSSLAP!’. Which I also don’t get at all. Nor #3 😦

  2. I do get the reference to/between Martin Luther and ‘post no bills’. But nothing in the way of any humour.

  3. The “knock knock” in this case is Luther nailing his theses to the church door (which, historically, probably did not happen). He’s getting slapped for nailing something to the door when “Post No Bills” is in effect (which is a total Geezer thing.)

  4. davandom has it. The phrase ‘post no bills” is a bit archaic, the term “bills” in particular in the US anyway. In the UK “bills” are a generic term for signs or flyers posted on an outdoor structure (lamppost, wall, door…) but in the US it is now almost solely used to mean a receipt or charge slip. The artist is an American so…

    While it took me a moment, I actually thought it quite good. A two for one.

  5. So, EditorM or Targuman, care to explain the first joke, now that dvandom has explained the second?

  6. @larK, I believe this comment from dvandom explains the first-panel joke: The “knock knock” in this case is Luther nailing his theses to the church door (which, historically, probably did not happen)

  7. So wait, you “got” that part, but didn’t get that if he’s nailing his theses to the door, he’s posting a bill??

    I thought the setup was going to go for something stupid like, “knock, knock” “who’s there?” “Martin Luther” “Martin Luther who?” “Martin Luther King!” and find it was posted on January 15th, and the only work left would be to try and decide if it was earnest or sardonic…

  8. (for the record, I got that he was posting a bill, but I didn’t get the “knock, knock” was him nailing the theses…)

  9. The blog post title “Martin Luther Original” was meant to save people going to “Martin Luther King” — but perhaps had the opposite effect? 😦

  10. A comment I liked on GoComics was along the lines of “Now he sure won’t be posting any Bulls!”.

  11. And why “Touché!”? I didn’t think she had “scored a point” on him. Though the slap was indeed a hit, a palpable hit.

  12. In the UK the ban on fly-posting was usually “Bill stickers will be prosecuted” often accompanied by the graffiti “Bill Stickers is innocent!”

  13. I don’t think Martin Luther would be posting bulls. It’s the Pope who posts bulls.

  14. I’d think posting bulls would be incredibly expensive. I’m all in favor of keeping the postal service solvent, but if I had to move cattle from place to place I’d still probably just go with trucks or railway cars. (Besides, if the bulls were sweating the stamps would probably just slide right off.)

    (O.K., too much contemplation of Shakespeare’s puns has clearly had a bad effect on me today.)

  15. I don’t think Martin Luther would be posting bulls. It’s the Pope who posts bulls.

    Yes, I think that’s meant to be the point of that secondary joke — though resting on a false basis. Since the “bulls” we are all thinking of are issued by the Pope, the church where Luther posted his protest would not be a wise place for Papal emissaries to want to read out the Papal bulls. Not exactly posting, but an analogy to make a remark work.

  16. “Bill Stickers is innocent!”

    In the first episode of the long-delayed (maybe or maybe not long-awaited) new season of Atlanta, a child is outfitted by his adoptive Moms with a “Free Hugs” placard to wear at a local fair. A dismally confused passerby leans down and asks “Who is Hugs? Is he your father?”.

  17. By posting his bill and kicking off the reformation, Luther is never gonna be pope, so he’ll now never be posting a bull

  18. Although somewhat familiar with Martin Luther, I didn’t get either half of the joke.

  19. Targuman – A bill to me is what is given for one to pay to get a receipt for payment – such as “I am upset that my cable/Internet bill went up 20% this month.” Or when eating in a restaurant ” May we have the bill please?” asked of the waiter.

    The receipt or charge slip – called same – is what I get when I pay the bill in a restaurant, etc.

    “Post no bills” existed here in the US at least into the 1960s as I remember seeing same, and probably existed until later in time. It certainly appears in period movies also.

  20. And yet “top of the bill”, “topping the bill” are still commonplace.

    I’m with larK here in that I get all the allusions. I suspect I’m with him in not getting any humour. Or puns. Or irony.

    But it would be a poor world indeed where we all found the same things funny, and it is not a cartoonists job (even if it were possible) to entertain everybody every time.

  21. @ DB-LD – …why “Touché!”? I didn’t think she had “scored a point”…
    I think she scored twice, first physically, then by hijacking his knock-knock joke and either replacing the punchline with a better one, or possibly just by delivering the punchline herself, instead of letting him do it.

    P.S. The perspective in the last panel is a little off; the way she stares into space just past his head make her expression look even more demonic.

    P.P.S. I agree with Meryl A. on “Post No Bills“: I know that I’ve seen the warning in an old comic, but I’m not sure whether it was “Little Nemo”, H.T. Webster, or “Pogo”.

    P.P.P.S. @ Ian Christian – “…accompanied by the graffiti…” – Back when “Vandalism for the Lord” was more common, someone went around extending the spray-painted message “Jesus Saves” to add “Green Stamps” (in the same color and stencil font).

  22. re “I agree with Meryl A. on “Post No Bills“: I know that I’ve seen the warning in an old comic, but I’m not sure whether it was “Little Nemo”, H.T. Webster, or “Pogo”.”

    I think I’ve seen it many times in old MAD comics.

  23. The first time I saw it in real life was when my family went to visit the New York branch. I think the notice was up on the board fences surrounding construction sites. This would have been 1960s.

  24. Mike P: Do they have knock knock jokes over on your side of the pond, and if they do, are they as important a childhood institution as they are here? I see this as Kilby does, a good take on stupid knock knock jokes (and I refer to them as “stupid” with affection) which also requires show-offable knowledge of what should be a well known pivotal event in Western history, yet sadly, here in the US at least, is not. The only problem with this one which keeps me from adopting it immediately to the annoyance of all around me is that you can’t unilaterally deploy it: if you start the joke, you can’t be the one who veers it off track with the punishment for posting a bill, and if you don’t start the joke, you’ll have a long time waiting for someone to give you the setup…
    The only part I still don’t get is how you could see the knock knock part as a joke without having understood the rest of it, that’s a genuine puzzlement for me, unless, like you, apparently you don’t see the humor in knock knock jokes (and really, there is precious little there, you just had to have grown up with them…)

  25. I took it that he was starting a conventional knock-knock joke in which “Martin Luther who?” would get some slight mangling as the joke; she slapped him to derail the joke by pretending to take the knocking to be nailing theses to the door, and he acknowledges her counter joke.

  26. I can’t think of any way in which

    Knock, knock
    Who’s there?
    Martin Luther
    Martin Luther who?

    could proceed as a conventional knock knock joke

  27. Uh, I gave a rather prosaic example a couple comments up; I’m not saying it was funny (in fact I was quite clearly saying the opposite), but it follows all the rules of the conventional knock knock joke (please note, there is NO rule saying a knock knock joke must be funny, punny, or even clever). Of course, one of the more fun advanced aspects of the knock knock joke is, that in having such a formal and constricted format, you can subvert it, and those are often more fun than the conventional. Eg: Knock, knock! Who’s there? Boo! Boo who? Don’t cry, it’s only me!
    My personal favorite is the interminable banana one where you keep going back to the knock knock part after the “banana who?” part, for as long as you can get away with it, before you finally relent and instead of saying “banana”, you say “orange”, and finally let the joke end: “orange who?” “Orange you glad I didn’t say ‘banana’ again?”
    The comic is an attempt at a subverting knock knock joke, which would be quite clever except for the fact (as I point out in my above alluded to comment) that you can’t actually deploy it in the real world because of the mismatch in roles: if you are the instigator, you can’t derail it, and if you are the respondent, you have to hope that the instigator says “Martin Luther”, which is highly improbable (I guess that is the point you are trying to make: there is no good conventional knock knock joke you can construct with “Martin Luther” so as to make that a likely response, and thus make the subversion of it a real option…)

  28. One of my favorite examples of “subverting” the highly restricted structure of a knock-knock, as discussed by larK:

    A: Let’s do a knock-knock joke. You start!
    B: Um, okay. Knock knock.
    A: Who’s there?
    B: Umm….

    OR B comes up with one!

  29. Klopf, klopf!
    Wer ist da?
    Martin Luther!
    Martin Luther wer?
    Martinlutherwehr? Das hätte der Papst gut gebrauchen können!

    ¯_ (ツ)_/¯

    (ps: I see that the comment I thought was only a “couple” up was actually, way up, and not the same one I later claim I alluded to…)

  30. And of course:
    Knock, knock!
    Who’s there?
    Little old lady.
    Little old lady who?
    I didn’t know you could yodel.

  31. This one was going around like wildfire something like 25 years ago:

    A: Knock, knock!
    B: Who’s there?
    A: The Interrupting Cow.
    B: The In-
    A: MOO!

  32. Knock! Knock!
    Who’s there?
    Jada: G.I. Jane II
    Ssslap!
    Oh, wow…
    Keep my wife’s name out of your fugging mouth!

  33. The “Vicar of Dibley” used “the interrupting cow” joke in one of the traditional post credit gags. The vicar tells the joke to her dimwitted assistant (Alice), who doesn’t really understand it, but says that she can tell a whole lot of great jokes just like it. Alice’s first attempt (with a different animal) works OK, but then she tries to do “The Interrupting Rabbit”, which of course leaves Alice hanging, trying to figure out what kind of noise a rabbit would make.

  34. Grawlix, I think there were others than Spike Jones, but I can’t recall or look it up right now. The interesting “trademark” of this line of songs was the pronunciation of “Knock” – with the /k/ not at all silent and a bit of a vowel inserted between that and the /n/ so that you have an extra mora, maybe “a syllable and a half” altogether. Not quite the name Kinnock, but heading that way. It’s quite fun when the lead solo sings/says “K’nock k’nock!” and the band members acting as a chorus come back with the “Who’s There?”.

  35. I heard the “KA-nock KA-nock” song version on a “joke show” version of Garrison Keillor’s PRARIE HOME COMPANION late in its run. Never heard that version anywhere else otherwise, but now I can’t think of knock-knock jokes without that being my default mental pronunciation.

  36. Fletcher Henderson’s band recorded the “Knock Knock” song making puns on the names of the band members. Who’s there? Cuffey. Cuffey who? Cuffey and donuts. Who’s there? Fletcher. Fletcher who? Fletcher self go.

  37. @ MiB – I think I remember a version of that song that appeared as a link in a CIDU thread, but I have no idea how to dig up the relevant post.

  38. Mitch 4 – Probably where I saw the signs also. Was in Manhattan with my parents in the 1960s alot and then in the 1970s with Robert while we were dating – as well as for work.

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