The Orange Head Joke

Speak­ing of things that are funny to some and not oth­ers, an in­struc­tive ex­am­ple is the Orange Head joke. Usu­ally when it’s told, the au­di­ence is sharply di­vided into those who think it’s hilar­i­ous and those who strug­gle to see what’s funny.

Here’s the Orange Head joke:

It’s busi­ness as usual for a bar­tender, and one day as he is clean­ing his bar when an un­usual cus­tomer walks in. The man is dressed in an ex­pen­sive suit, has a beau­tiful su­per­model hang­ing off each arm, and has a limo parked out­side. Fur­ther­more, the man has an or­ange for a head.

The cus­tomer sits down at the bar and or­ders ev­ery­one a drink. He pays for it from a roll of hun­dreds and man­ages to get the at­ten­tion of ev­ery woman in the joint, de­spite hav­ing an or­ange for a head.

The bar­tender is not a man to pry, but he feels com­pel­led to ask about this man’s life.

“Ex­cuse me,” says the bar­tender, “I can’t help but no­tice that you’re ob­vi­ously fab­u­lously wealthy and ir­re­sistable to women, but you have an or­ange for a head. How did that hap­pen?”

So the man told his story.

“A while back, when I was pen­niless, I was walk­ing along the beach and saw an old lamp, half buried in the sand. I picked it up and gave it a clean, and POOF! out popped a ge­nie. The ge­nie ex­plained that he had been trapped in that lamp for two hun­dred years, and that he was so grate­ful to me for free­ing him that he would give me three wishes.

“For my first wish I asked for an un­limited for­tune. The ge­nie said ‘It is done!’ and from then on, when­ever I needed money, it was there.

“For my sec­ond wish I asked for the at­ten­tion of all the most beau­tiful women in the world. The ge­nie said it was done, and since then I have been able to get any woman I wanted.

“For my third wish—and, this is the bit where I kinda fucked up—I asked for an or­ange for a head.”

Do you think it’s funny?

If you search for this joke’s key words, you’ll see many pages where, af­ter it’s told, peo­ple re­act in­cre­d­u­lously and ask where the joke was. Others at the same time are laugh­ing their heads off. Here’s a blog post that at­tempts to an­a­lyze this, though it doesn’t get far.

(I per­son­ally think it’s hilar­i­ous, and eas­ily the best joke I heard last year. When I re­told it at my blog, I got many con­cur­ring com­ments, but also com­ments from peo­ple who didn’t see any­thing funny, even af­ter those who did tried to ex­plain what they found in it. Sev­eral peo­ple went on to con­vince them­selves it’s gar­bled and there must be an “origi­nal” ver­sion in which the fi­nal re­mark makes sense and is funny—and offered sev­eral ideas of how it might go).