From "Babbler" to Jimmy Ah Foo: The Chinese in Australian Humor

Terry Abraham
University of Idaho Library


Based on a paper presented at the International Conference on Quong Tart and his Times, The Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, July 4, 2004. An earlier viersion was presented at the 57th Annual Northwest Anthropological Conference, Eugene, March 26, 2004.

Abstract/Introduction

Chinese miners and laborers entered Australia in great numbers in the latter half of the nineteenth century. In spite of their contributions to Australia's economy, they were discriminated against and threatened with harm, actions which culminated in the adoption of the "White Australia" policy soon after Federation in 1901. In the face of these manifestations of racist behavior, many Chinese made a home in Australia, established businesses and families, and became part of Australian daily life. The Chinese presence in Australia was documented in jokes, humorous poems, songs, and stories.

Chinese cooks served on stations in the bush while entrepreneurs opened restaurants and shops in the cities and towns. Jimmy Ah Foo, the Longreach, Queensland, publican, was one of the latter. Quong Tart's punning humor was also recorded in the newspaper columns. They were both featured players in Australian humor.

The jokes about the Chinese were part of a larger humor tradition derived from the specific circumstances of Australian history. As jokes often are, they were also the locus of ambivalent messages about the Chinese and their place in Australian society.

This examination of a few jokes about the Chinese from the Australian tradition will try to place them in their historical and cultural context.

Humor in Racism

Here is perhaps the definitive Chinese joke in Australia. Featuring a station cook in the outback,[1] it appeared in print as a poem, "My Other Chinee Cook," by James Brunton Stephens about 1885.[2] Another poem by Edwin Brady on the same topic was printed in the Bulletin on March 18, 1893.[3] It is stated as a "true" story, introduced in one of his great compendiums of Australiana by Bill Wannan:

The Chinese Cook

A folklore of comic yarns grew up around the Chinese-Australians of the last century, as it developed around the "Cousin Jack" Cornish miners, and the Italians on the canefields.

Here is one of the favourite tales that have long been part of the tradition. This version comes from Miss E. Hudson Jones of South Brisbane (Q.). It is worth noting, by the way, that the Australian poet Brunton Stephens told the same anecdote in his popular verse "My Other Chinese [Chinee, in the original] Cook".

"My old Dad," writes Miss Hudson Jones, "had he lived would now be 95. He was an old hand-shearer in Queensland. He always declared this story to be true.

"In the team to which the Dad belonged was a Chinese cook. In those days, the shearers had to provide their own food supplies -- 'to tucker themselves', as they put it.

"This Chinese cook was just an ordinary, run-of-the mill babbler[4] who turned on corn-beef and damper[5], alternating with mutton chops, with monotonous regularity. Still, he was clean and he wasn't argumentative.

"At one station the shearers acquired a young cattle bitch. Not much notice was taken of her until one day Brownie presented the camp with a litter of six pups.

"After a week or two the tucker suddenly took a turn for the better. The Chinese babbler served delicious stews and pies with a unique flavour. These tasty meals went on for a time and then, just as suddenly as they'd started, they ceased; and the camp went back to the dreary diet of corn-beef, damper and tough old mutton chops.

"'What's happened, Johnny?' the men asked. 'Why don't we get them real nice stews an' pies an' things?'

"Johnny spread his hands and shrugged his shoulders. "No more puppy, no more pie,' he said with finality."[6]

A puppy as food strikes us as unnatural, uncivilized, and inhuman. All of which makes the surprise in the story funny, for the shearers loved the cook's pies and wanted more. The idea of eating dogs and cats (what we consider pets is not to be considered food) is a frequent motif in racist jokes. Folklorist Christie Davies notes "to eat a member of a species kept as a pet is in a minor way to infringe the taboos against cannibalism."[7] If those who eat pets are unnatural, uncivilized, and inhuman, then we don't have to treat them as people. If we don't have to treat them as people, then we can justify any number of actions which we would not (by law or custom) take against "real" people.

That story is told second-hand, but is reported to be a true occurrence. Sheep shearing is seasonal and migratory work. A team of shearers would arrive at the sheep camp to do their work. According to the story, they had to provide their own "tucker," or food. For this purpose they hired a Chinese cook, "he was clean and he wasn't argumentative." Camp cooks were generally portrayed as "hard-bitten individuals seemingly determined to poison those they feed"[8] so this one was a prize of sorts. And when he cooked "puppy" the food was better than it was otherwise. The "hero" of this story is undoubtedly the Chinese cook who, to the surprise of the shearing crew, did his best to provide good "tucker."

In another story, presented as true and as a folktale, the Chinese station cook gives as good as he got:

In the early part of 1921 we had a Chinee cook there. This Chinee cook was a fairly solid sort of a Chinaman with a long black pigtail, long dungaree jacket, blue dungaree trousers and Chinese slippers. The boys used to tease him a lot, and I could see that he was getting sullen. I could see that he wouldn't stay there and cook for us, if they kept annoying him.

I said, "Don't tease him so much, boys, or we'll be lighting fires around the barracks and having to batch for ourselves. Tell him you'll chop a bit of firewood for him. And stop pulling his pigtail, and tell him he's a welly good cook and that you like him."

They said, "Do you think he'll go?"

I said, "You wouldn't cop it, neither will he!"

So they said to Johnny, "No more pullem pigtail, you welly good cook, we'll chop a bit of wood for you, we'll dry dishes of a night for you." They was worried about having to cook for themselves.

Johnny said, "No more teasem? No more pullem pigtail?"

"No more!" they said.

"All li, no more me pee in the soup," he said. He'd been giving them a tasty little drop in the soup. He'd been getting square with them all the time.[9]

"Revengeful" is how Ouyang Yu describes this, referring to it as "an old Australian yarn called Pee Soup about a Chinese cook who took revenge by pissing in the soup of those migrants who teased him and pulled his pigtail."[10] Yet, it is a revenge story told by whites to whites, featuring a Chinese man who affirmed the saying: "Don't get mad, get even." Again, we see that the Chinese cook is presented as the "hero."

Here's another story about cooks, featuring Jimmy Ah Foo, who had a pub/hotel in Queensland:

"And there was the time, during the anti-Chinese demonstrations of the last century, when shearers and other outback workers, afraid that the 'foreigners' would break down their hard-won working conditions, began agitating to have Chinese cooks removed from sheds, camps and even hotels.

"A shearer's deputation went to Jimmy Ah Foo and asked him to get rid of the Chinese cook he was employing. He promised to consider the matter.

"When next the deputation approached him, Jimmy said cheerfully, 'All li. I sack that cook. I do cooking meself now.'"[11]

Jimmy Ah Foo is another anomaly, a Chinese man who is the hero of a story that celebrates the racist attitudes of the majority population. There are a number of stories about Jimmy Ah Foo; in each he is recognized as a Chinese who has become part of the community, whose activities and observations -- a character if there ever was one -- are incorporated into the community story.

One characteristic of Australian humor, anti-authoritarianism, has relevance here: "Australians frequently pride themselves on their general irreverence towards authority."[12] As an Australian joke, Jimmy Ah Foo's impertinence to the union leaders is deeply in character and therefore even more funny. Again, the "hero" is Chinese.

Chinese market gardeners have long been a staple component of Australian life.[13] In 1899 it is reported that there were 5000 market gardeners in New South Wales with 2000 of those in Sydney.[14] One, in the suburbs of Sydney, has been continually operated by the Chinese for over a hundred years.[15] Accordingly, tales of market gardeners fit into an existing shared history.

The Chinese Gardener and His Horse

That honesty is the best policy is nowhere better illustrated than in the following tale.

Many years ago there was a Chinese market gardener who had a horse for sale. It was a handsome animal, fat and sleek.

A man came to look at it one day, and was very taken with it. He asked the Chinaman its age, had a close look at its teeth, and convinced himself that it was sound in wind and limb.

It surprised him, therefore, when the Chinese gardener kept saying, "He not look too well."

"I can't say I agree with you," said the prospective buyer. "He looks quite well to me. In fact, I'd say he's in excellent condition."

The deal was completed and the man took the horse away.

Several days later he came back, and angrily strode up to the Chinese gardener as he tended his cabbages. "You didn't tell me that horse was blind in one eye!" he roared.

"Yes I did," said the Chinaman blandly. "I tell you he not look too well, didn't I?"[16]

This is another example of the lowly Chinese presented as a "hero" in a contest with a Caucasian. The story particularly sets the scene, in contrast to the usual representation of the dishonest "other," by noting that this is an example of "honesty is the best policy," which must be perceived in this context as a majority virtue.

Quong Tart

As a fixture in the white community of Sydney, Quong Tart was one Chinese man who seemed to have successfully integrated into the larger community. In 1883 the Bulletin noted: "Mr. Quong Tart is undoubtedly at the present time, the most popular -- or the only popular -- Chinese in New South Wales."[17] He does not seem to have played the same role in the community -- the seemingly naive trickster -- as Jimmy Ah Foo. The "jokes" and stories relating to him, again told by whites to whites as reported in the newspapers, depend less on anecdotes and more on Quong Tart's personal sense of humor. Quong Tart's English was clear enough, though Scots accented, that he would not be the subject of a dialect joke. And it was good enough for Quong Tart to develop a reputation as an inveterate punster, a task requiring excellent language skills.

One story, however, relies for its effect on his accent, but Quong Tart is himself neither the butt nor the hero of the story:

It was at Urana that Quong's accent attracted the attention of another diner, an elderly Scotsman. Martin Brennan, with Irish wit, introduced his companion as "a distinguished native of Aberdeen." The old Scot peered more closely at the Chinese gentleman across the table and responded: "He may be so. I have not been in Aberdeen since I was a child, and cannot say what the people there are now like; but it seems to me they have undergone a great change!"[18]

On this same trip, during which Quong Tart and Brennan were charged with investigating immorality in Chinese camps, Quong Tart's humorous talk at an Urana banquet was recorded in the newspaper:

Every country has its great men -- Greece produced a Homer, Italy a Virgil, France a Fenelon, England a Shakespeare, and China boasts of several renowned scholars, the greatest probably in intellectual splendor, according to the ancient annals of China, being Shak Pah, who, for all I know, might have been the great progenitor of England's celebrated bard.[19]

Robert Travers' Australian Mandarin: The Life and Times of Quong Tart includes several of Quong Tart's puns, two of which revolve around his name:

[At a] luncheon to honour the Church of England minister Rev Cakebread [it is reported] "Friends!" he quipped "You have no taste for good things. You eat this cake and that cake until you're full -- but the real Cakebread and the genuine Tart you leave untouched!"

At one of his treats he refused to join his guests in drinking wine, joking "No thanks. If I took more of that stuff, I shouldn't be a Tart but a roly-poly!"[20]

Again, we should note that these stories about Quong Tart appeared originally in the mainstream press, they were jokes and stories that whites told other whites. In these, and in the others reported, Quong Tart appears as an exemplary character and civic embellishment. His wife reported in her hagiographic biography of her late husband: "Quong Tart was a happy man. -- He was a ready-witted, mirth-provoking companion, and had ingrained in his Anglicised Chinese composition a dash of the philosophical, which tended to make him an agreeable and valuable auxiliary to any society. Sparkling with fun, brimful of humour, Quong Tart created amusement wherever he went."[21] In addition, he exemplified the ambivalent attitude many Australians evidenced towards their Chinese neighbors.

In each of these cases, in an ostensibly "racist" story told by Caucasians to a Caucasian audience, the much-hated and reviled Chinese are the "heroes;" they have turned the tale around so that the butt of the joke is the white majority. This seems to fall outside the usual category of ethnic jokes where the "other" is marginalized and denigrated. If we look past the story itself to the historic context of the Chinese experience in Australia and the nature of Australian humor we can catch a glimpse of some of the underlying issues.

Chinese immigration and Australian response

A combination of circumstances, some economic, some political, and some individual, drew thousands of Chinese (mostly males) to Australia beginning soon after the discovery of gold in 1851. Forty years later, over 40,000 Chinese were dispersed among several gold fields, often making up more than half the population in the camps.[22] They were first welcomed as contributors to the labor pool, but as time passed and economic conditions changed, Caucasian workers increasingly saw them as economic threats with an alien lifestyle. Anti-Chinese violence flared in mining camps; attacks were made on Chinese residents, although not to the extent of the violence expressed in the United States.[23] The establishment of a "White Australia Policy" after federation in 1901 restricted Chinese immigration severely. Australia's relative proximity to southeast China encouraged a constant flow of Chinese to and from their homeland that offset the lack of welcome in Australia. In spite of repressive political actions, many Chinese became substantial contributors to the Australian economy and culture, and subsequent generations of their families demonstrate a continuing Chinese Australian presence. One such man, born in Bendigo in 1938 and quoted in A Secret Country: The Hidden Australia, noted with satisfaction the acceptance his minority family realized in that former gold-mining community.[24]

Ethnic and dialect humor

English folklorist Christie Davies has made the point that jokes (he speaks primarily of ethnic jokes, but the thought could be expanded to most if not all jokes) follow scripts that are related to historical circumstances.[25] I would call these scripts "shared suppositions." The scripts are the narrative structure or theme of the joke (he analyzes several groups of paired but contrasting scripts: stupid/canny and militarists/cowards, are but two examples). These scripts are frequently based on historical circumstances; one of his examples relates how, of all WWII participants, only the Italians became identified (for joking purposes) as cowards.

The script of a joke relies on shared knowledge between the teller and the listener to transmit the narrative of the joke. Jokes are told in a kind of shorthand that assumes this shared narrative. For this reason, jokes rely upon (and in some cases create) stereotypes; they apply characteristics to groups that may be false but are believed to be true enough; at least true enough for purposes of telling a joke. Otherwise, telling a joke would require the kind of elaborate explication of subsidiary details that occur when one is trying to "explain" a joke to someone who didn't get it. As is often the case, the joke gets lost in the retelling; for the essential character of the joke, a succinct premise with a surprising twist, vanishes when explained.

That the script relies on a shared narrative is demonstrated every evening after the news, when the late-night talk show "host du jour" comes out and comments on the news, on stories much of the audience is already familiar. Similarly, Australian jokes about the "new chum" or "bushrangers" tend to need some explanation when told off their home ground.

Nevertheless, this shared narrative is a recognized fiction, using known stereotypes, and may not have any specific relationship to an actual event, person, or group of persons.[26] For the sake of the story, of the joke, the teller and the listener must agree on the basis of the story.

The history of the Chinese in Australia provides part of the script underlying jokes told primarily by dominant Caucasians about Chinese at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. Because these jokes rely on stereotypes and racial expressions that are not common today, many would be considered offensive. The use of "Chinaman" is now recognized as a derogatory term because of its historical usage; today we would say, "a Chinese person."

Accordingly, when we hear, or more likely read, a joke beginning "The stockmen went to the Chinese cook --." we are expected to know that there were Chinese in the bush, they were treated poorly, their knowledge of English was often poor, that they were hired to fulfill domestic tasks in part because of a shortage of willing women, and that the Chinese were subservient or dependent in their relationships with whites. This was all part of the shared script that the teller and the listener recognized and agreed upon because it was based on historical circumstances.

Davies' analysis of ethnic jokes relies heavily on jokes told by the dominant culture about "the other." Perhaps because of a lack of sources, he concludes that jokes tend to rely on the center telling jokes about the periphery.[27] There were undoubtedly jokes that the Chinese told each other, since all people (even subordinate peoples) tell jokes, but they have seldom (likely never) been recorded by the dominant culture. Accordingly, all these jokes about the Chinese are told from the perspective of that dominant culture.

Australian humor

Australian humor is derived from the mythmaking of the Australian character; what defines the nation is what defines their humor. This is particularly true in both Australia and the United States, where the dominant culture was originally an immigrant culture. Australian humor "draws on historical experiences of convictism, pioneering and the bush and is bound up with perceptions of the Australian character as egalitarian, anti-authoritarian and irreverent towards social pretension."[28]

Brian Matthews, in the eminently readable Oxford Companion to Australian History, expressed another view of Australian humor: "there is a corrosive though not deeply wounding irony; there is a spareness of words, a bush setting, a vernacular ambience." He adds: "Above all, the humour is what one might describe as 'kidding': the butt of the remark is being gently but firmly set up for a modestly humiliating fall."[29] As part of the effort to help distinguish a national identity, Australian humor has been characterized as "rough, deprecating, [and] sardonic."[30] Folklore collector Bill Wannan notes its forebears among the transported Irish settlers, whose crime was often political activism rather than theft, and from the American gold-seekers:

The Americans who came to Australia in search of gold or quick fortunes brought with them characteristic forms of national humour -- the tall story, the Joe Miller type of jest, the big talk and the boastful manner. This kind of comic attitude appealed to the native-born Australian who had himself, over half a century, evolved similar forms of humour, notably the tall tale and the joke at the expense of the new chum. Where the Australian differed was in his less boisterous manner, his more subtle ways of boasting, and his more sardonic outlook.[31]

The American miners, of course, brought more than their sense of humor. They also brought an antagonistic attitude toward non-whites that fueled and compounded the native racism found in Australia.[32]

Most lists of the major themes of Australian humor -- mateship, the harshness of the bush, new chum bashing -- deny their underlying racism by excluding it from consideration. As Dorothy Jones noted:

The myth of nationhood which it helps constitute depends upon exclusion and elision for its very existence. Nations as imagined political communities define themselves both in terms of their differentness to what lies beyond their borders, that is other nations, and in terms of differences within, so that certain groups, distinguished, say, by racial background, are perceived to exist as separate enclaves which not only mark them out from the dominant group, but, by their very existence, contribute to an illusion of unity and homogeneity within that group.[33]

Excluding minorities from the "group" helps the "group" define itself as a group or community. The "social puzzle," as folklorist Davies calls it, "is the paranoid hostility of the surrounding peoples, who have proved all too willing to indulge in the persecution, expulsion, and even mass murder of hapless and helpless minorities."[34] Leaving aside the treatment of the aboriginals (an extensive topic all its own) the Chinese were generally treated and depicted viciously.

It is probably correct to say that the Australian locus of both late nineteenth and early twentieth century humor and virulent anti-Chinese sentiment was the Sydney Bulletin. The weekly Bulletin was adamantly "Whites Only," yet it was recognized as the source of some of the best and most original Australian humour; it was also "the major forum for Australian literature of its day."[35] Accordingly, it was the focal point of the creation of the national mythology that all this relied upon.[36] It was the Bulletin that crowed: "the European's dislike of the Chinaman is not a matter of taste, but a healthy racial instinct -- in the case of the chinkies, this out-of-date instinctive dislike has lasted long enough to be useful again as a protection against a race that is more dangerous to civilisation than a savage with a club is to a fellow savage."[37]

Representations of the Chinese

Shoals of pigtails, almond-eyed,
Flooding all the country side,
Skimmed off as their country's scum,
Odorous of opium.[38]

As in this example, one stanza of several, the racism, hatred, and antagonism directed at the Chinese immigrants in Australia is reflected in the literature. Poet and critic Ouyang Yu notes: "[the Chinese] remained an odd, exotic sight on the Australian landscape, ignorant, funny, docile and loyal to the master. They are not really what they are but what Australians want them to be and they are represented as such, to suit the purpose of assimilation and domination, as a result of racism and nationalism."[39]

In a study of North Queensland humor, Cheryl Frost writes that those who deviated from the norm -- this included "Chinese and aborigines, newcomers to the region, and parsons" -- were particularly made the butt of the more sophisticated jokes and tales.[40] The less sophisticated jokers relied on practical jokes, crocodiles, multitudes of mosquitoes, and other tales of exaggeration.

In some cases, the Chinese were merely background, a measure of their significance to the society at large. In one humorous description, ostensibly a newspaper editorial, the town's residents are listed: "boozy squatters, snobbish wives of snobbish officials, anaemic old maids, obsequious tradesmen on the verge of insolvency, and two respectable and hard working persons -- the latter are Chinamen."[41] The virtuous Chinese are highlighted as a contrast to the other denizens of the village; the evident sarcasm marks the description as humorous.

This ambivalence towards the Chinese affects the joke's underlying racism. I have been told that "a joke is not racist if it is funny." But what is funny, I would urge, depends on the host of circumstances surrounding the participants, the joke, and the moral climate. A racist joke that is perceived as "not funny" is racist, with all that implies.[42] The perception that matters in these cases is that of the minority victim, the "butt" of the joke. As Frank Wu has pointed out: "What seems like benign childish jokes to the majority can seem like an endlessly recurring nightmare to a minority."[43] One example would be the commonly reported teasing of the Chinese laundryman or gardener by troops of small Caucasian boys who would grow up to commit more adult harassments.

It is also important to recognize that jokes "are not social thermostats regulating and shaping human behavior, but they are social thermometers that measure, record, and indicate what is going on. To become angry about jokes and to seek to censor them because they impinge on sensitive issues is about as sensible as smashing a thermometer because it reveals how hot it is."[44]

Conclusion

In some cases, as Cheryl Frost noted, "the callous treatment of the Chinese diggers by Europeans [was presented] in a two-edged way: they looked on the victims with distaste, but simultaneously deplored their fellow-settlers' injustice."[45] The famed Australian poet Henry Lawson's line, "Some of my best friends are Chinks!", demonstrates that mixed relationship.[46]

Ivor Indyk, a Sydney academic, writing on migrant (also called, just as erroneously, ethnic) humor, that is to say stories by the minorities about their Australian experiences, notes of one such pidgin work: "The joke, that is to say, is on the Australian reader, who might have thought he was laughing at the migrant, when in fact it is his own superior standpoint which has been subverted."[47] Yet, "for all its deflationary, irreverent quality, Australian humour is usually an acknowledgement of the status quo."[48]

If, in Australia, it is true that the humor is based on what Vane Lindesay has called "the fundamental... characteristic born of adversity -- 'You can't win,'"[49] then this applies even more to the Chinese residents of Australia. They had what has been called "a Chinaman's Chance" meaning no chance at all. Surprisingly, "A Chinaman's Chance" is apparently a British phrase alluding to boxers with a porcelain chin (the same as a glass jaw); it was carried to Australia and then exported to the United States, rather than the other way round.[50] More than most Australians, the Chinese were in a can't win situation. Even perfect English would not get you past the language test for entry if the examiner decided to test you in Welsh or German. The dictation test was adopted soon after the "White Australia" policy was established in 1901; "it was understood, though nowhere stated, that this should be in a language not known to the immigrant."[51]

In the century since the proponents of Federation successfully demonized the Chinese (and other Asians) for political benefit, the Chinese-Australians have made substantial, and frequently recognized, contributions to Australia's national identity. Therefore, it is significant that an early 1990s compilation of Australian jokes contains only one specifically related to Chinese-Australians.[52]

Even so, as this brief summary demonstrates, the Chinese were frequently presented in a comic, but not entirely unsympathetic, way. This representation relies on the complex of historic events that shaped the Australian character -- the reliance on mates, the hardness of bush life, the resistance to authority, and, in a few instances at least, the presence of the "other" that shaped both the character and the humor.


[1] For more on Chinese cooks in Australian literature, see Ouyang Yu, "All the Lower Orders: Representations of the Chinese Cooks, Market Gardeners and Other Lower-Class People in Australian Literature, 1888-1988." In Paul Macgregor, ed. Histories of the Chinese in Australasia and the South Pacific. Melbourne: Museum of Chinese Australian History, 1995, 101-104.

[2] Beginning "He was lazy, he was cheeky, he was dirty, he was sly, / But he had a single virtue, and its name was rabbit pie." Brunton Stephens, "My Other Chinee Cook." The rabbit was subsequently replaced by puppy, the revelation of which gave the poem its punch line. Reprinted in Bill Wannan, My Kind of Country. Book Two in Bill Wannan's Great Book of Australiana. Adelaide: Rigby, 1977, 2:116-117.

[3] Patricia Rolfe, The Journalistic Javelin: An Illustrated History of the Bulletin. Sydney: Wildcat Press, 1979, 145.

[4] Rhyming slang: "Babbler" is derived from "babbling brook" which rhymes with "cook;" a babbler is a cook. Wannan, Bill. The Australian. Book One in Bill Wannan's Great Book of Australiana. Adelaide: Rigby, 1977, 1:68; Gwenda Davey and Graham Seal, A Guide to Australian Folklore: from Ned Kelly to Aeroplane Jelly. East Roseville, N.S.W.: Kangaroo Press, 2003, 74.

[5] "Damper" is flour and water, often cooked over an open fire.

[6] Bill Wannan, Come in Spinner. Book Three in Bill Wannan's Great Book of Australiana. Adelaide: Rigby, 1977. 3:126-127.

[7] Christie Davies, Ethnic Humor around the World: A Comparative Analysis. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990, 278. See also: Frank H. Wu, Yellow: Race in America beyond Black and White. New York: Basic Books, 2002, Chapter 6, "The Best 'Chink' Food: Dog-Eating and the Dilemma of Diversity."

[8]Gwenda Davey and Graham Seal, A Guide to Australian Folklore: from Ned Kelly to Aeroplane Jelly. East Roseville, N.S.W.: Kangaroo Press, 2003, 74.

[9] W. N. Scott, The Long & The Short & The Tall. Sydney: Western Plains Publishers, 1985, 101-102, collected from Jack Carr, 1980. A very similar account is recorded in G[ershon] Legman, Rationale of the Dirty Joke, Second Series, No Laughing Matter. NY, Bell, 1975, 374, 940; reported as collected in New York in 1938 and 1940. Another is repeated as a true story from the UC ranch in southern Idaho, collected in April 1964 (Archives of Idaho Folklore, MG 126 Box 1, Folder 39, Special Collections, University of Idaho Library). "Show us an Australian joke and we'll show you an English, an American or a German joke that has been on a long journey." Philip Adams and Patrice Newell. The Penguin Book of Australian Jokes. Ringwood: Penguin, 1994, 28-29. In a supplemental edition, Adams and Newell regrettfully note the impossibility of collecting pure Australian jokes, given the overwhelming deluge of foreign imports. Philip Adams and Patrice Newell. The Penguin Book of All-New Australian Jokes. Ringwood: Penguin, 2000, 9.

[10] Ouyang, Yu. "All the Lower Orders: Representations of the Chinese Cooks, Market Gardeners and Other Lower-Class People in Australian Literature, 1888-1988," In Paul McGregor, ed. Histories of the Chinese in Australasia and the South Pacific. Melbourne: Museum of Chinese Australian History, 1995., 102.

[11] Bill Wannan, Come in Spinner. Book Three in Bill Wannan's Great Book of Australiana. Adelaide: Rigby, 1977. 3: 148.

[12] Dorothy Jones, "Winning and Losing: Australian Humour," in Pavel Petr, David Roberts, and Philip Thomson. Comic relations: studies in the comic, satire, and parody. Frankfurt am Main; New York: P. Lang, 1985, 85. Also quoted (with an elision) by Daniel Knauer, "National varieties between humour in Australia, humour in England and humour in the United States." 2001, 7 <http://www1.ku-eichstaett.de/SLF/EngluVglSW/schule12.doc>.

[13] See, for example: Warwick Frost, "Migrants and Technological Transfer: Chinese Farming in Australia, 1850-1920." Australian Economic History Review 42:2(July 2002)113-131.

[14] Michael Williams, "Wading 10,000 li to seek their fortune: Tung Wah News selections 1898-1901." Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation Project, <http://www.chaf.lib.latrobe.edu.au/tungwah_article.htm>.

[15] NSW Heritage Office, "Chinese Market Gardens, Bunnerong Road, La Perouse, NSW" <http://www.heritage.nsw.gov.au/07_subnav_02_2.cfm?itemid=5044696>.

[16] Bill Wannan, Come in Spinner. Book Three in Bill Wannan's Great Book of Australiana. Adelaide: Rigby, 1977. 3:7.

[17] Patricia Rolfe, The Journalistic Javelin: An Illustrated History of the Bulletin. Sydney: Wildcat Press, 1979, 38. Also quoted by Robert Travers, Australian Mandarin: The Life and Times of Quong Tart. Kenthurst: Kangaroo Press, 1981, 53-54.

[18] Robert Travers, Australian Mandarin: The Life and Times of Quong Tart. Kenthurst: Kangaroo Press, 1981, 55.

[19] Robert Travers, Australian Mandarin: The Life and Times of Quong Tart. Kenthurst: Kangaroo Press, 1981, 56.

[20] Robert Travers, Australian Mandarin: The Life and Times of Quong Tart. Kenthurst: Kangaroo Press, 1981, 128; quoting from Tart, Margaret Scarlett. The Life of Quong Tart: or, How a Foreigner Succeeded in a British Community. Sydney: W.M. Maclardy, 1911. 68-69. Available at <http://purl.library.usyd.edu.au/setis/id/fed0048>.

[21] Tart, Margaret Scarlett. The Life of Quong Tart: or, How a Foreigner Succeeded in a British Community. Sydney: W.M. Maclardy, 1911. 68.

[22] Ian H. Burnley, The Impact of Immigration on Australia. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2001, 80. Brian Murphy gives a somewhat smaller, although apparently more precise, figure of 36,032. The Other Australia. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1993, 23. For additional information about the misperception of the number of minority populations, see Richard Nadeu, Richard G. Niemi, and Jeffrey Levine, "Innumerancy about Minority Populations," Public Opinion Quarterly, 57(1993)332-347.

[23] James Jupp, From White Australia to Woomera: The Story of Australian Immigration. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002, 8; see also T. H. Irving, "1850-70," In F. K. Crowley, ed., A New History of Australia. Melbourne: Heinemann, 1974, 151-152. For more information on the complexity of the Chinese Australian experience, see Paul Macgregor, ed., Histories of the Chinese in Australasia and the South Pacific. Melbourne: Museum of Chinese Australian History, 1995 and Jan Ryan's "Chinese Australian History" in Wayne Hudson and Geoffrey Bolton, eds., Creating Australia: Changing Australian History. St Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 1997, 71-78.

[24] John Pilger, A Secret Country: The Hidden Australia. New York, Knopf, 1991, 95.

[25] Christie Davies, Ethnic humor around the world: A Comparative Analysis. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990, 6. Davies derives this term from Victor Raskin's Semantic Mechanisms of Humor. Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1985; where Raskin attempts to establish a script-based formal semantic theory; see especially chapter 3.

[26] Davies argues that cultural stereotypes and Raskin's scripts (which appear to be stereotypical) should not be confused; see pages 6-7.

[27] Christie Davies, Ethnic humor around the world: A Comparative Analysis. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990, 82.

[28] Dorothy Jones, "Edgy Laughter: Women and Australian Humour," Australian Literary Studies, 16:2(October 1993)15.

[29] Brian Matthews, "Humour," In Graeme Davison, John Hirst, and Stuart Macintyre, eds. The Oxford Companion to Australian History. Revised edition, South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2001, 335.

[30] Bill Wannan. Come in Spinner. Book Three in Bill Wannan's Great Book of Australiana. Adelaide: Rigby, 1977. 3:ix. Quoting Brian Elliott's "Singing to the cattle."

[31] Bill Wannan, Come in Spinner. Book Three in Bill Wannan's Great Book of Australiana. Adelaide: Rigby, 1977. 3:x.

[32] Andrew Markus, Australian Race Relations, 1788-1993. St Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 1994, 61-63.

[33] Dorothy Jones, "Edgy Laughter: Women and Australian Humour," Australian Literary Studies, 16:2(October 1993)15.

[34] Christie Davies, Ethnic humor around the world: A Comparative Analysis. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990., 319.

[35] Peter Kirkpatrick, "Bellerive and the Bulletin: A Strange Case of Readership." Thalia: Studies in Literary Humor. 10:2(Fall & Winter 1989)53.

[36] Dorothy Jones, "Edgy Laughter: Women and Australian Humour," Australian Literary Studies, 16:2(October 1993)15.

[37] John Pilger, Secret Country: The Hidden Australia. NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991, 94, quoting Sydney Bulletin, November 1898. A page by page examination of the Bulletin would undoubtedly provide more examples. An anthology of the Bulletin has been compiled by Patricia Rolfe, The Journalistic Javelin: An Illustrated History of the Bulletin. Sydney: Wildcat Press, 1979. She collected additional examples in Clotted Rot for Clots and Rotters. Sydney: Wildcat Press, 1980.

[38] W. Ross Johnston, A Documentary History of Queensland. St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1988, 292, quoting Queensland Figaro, May 12, 1883, 19.

[39] Yu Ouyang, "All the Lower Orders: Representations of the Chinese Cooks, Market Gardeners and Other Lower-Class People in Australian Literature, 1888-1988.," In Paul Mcgregor, ed. Histories of the Chinese in Australasia and the South Pacific. Melbourne: Museum of Chinese Australian History, 1995. 100.

[40] Cheryl Frost, "Humour and Satire in Early North Queensland Writing." LiNQ 10:1(1981)42.

[41] Louis Becke, Tom Gerrard. London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1904, 58.

[42] See, for instance, Liam Clarke's discussion of racist anti-Irish jokes in the UK: "You can't take a joke," Journal of Psyhiatric and Mental Health Nursing 5(1998)319-328. "You can't take a joke" is the rallying cry of the priviliged, and tactless, majority.

[43] Frank H. Wu, Yellow: Race in America beyond black and white. New York: Basic Books, 2002, 10.

[44] Christie Davies, Ethnic humor around the world: A Comparative Analysis. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990, 9.

[45] Cheryl Frost, "Humour and Satire in Early North Queensland Writing," LiNQ 10:1(1981)42.

[46] John Pilger, Secret Country: The Hidden Australia. NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991, 94.

[47] Ivor Ondyk, "The Migrant and the Comedy of Excess in Recent Australian Writing," Thalia: Studies in Literary Humor 10:2(Fall & Winter 1989)40.

[48] Dorothy Jones and Barry Andrews, "Australian Humour," Australian Literary Studies 13:4(1988)74.

[49] Dorothy Jones, "Serious Laughter: On Defining Australian Humour," Journal of Commonwealth Literature 23:1(1988)77, quoting Vane Lindesay, The Inked-in Image (1970), 46-47.

[50] Peter Tamony, "Western Words: Chinaman's Chance." Western Folklore 24:3(July 1965)202-205. The common meaning of "Chinaman's Chance" was turned on its head by historian Liping Zhu whose A Chinaman's Chance: The Chinese on the Rocky Mountain Mining Frontier (Niwot, Colorado: University Press of Colorado, 1997), argued that in at least one mining region, in central Idaho, Chinese miners had substantial opportunities and successfully held their ground against racial animosities.

[51] James Jupp, From White Australia to Woomera: The Story of Australian Immigration. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002, 9.

[52] Philip Adams and Patrice Newell, The Penguin Book of Australian Jokes. Ringwood, Penguin, 1994, 72:

A lot of new Australians live in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane. A Chinaman had a fruit and vegie shop. Every Friday his neighbor, a Greek bloke with a snack bar, used to pass his shop on the way to bank his takings and he always called out, "What day is it, Chinaman?"

The Chinaman always replied, "Flyday, you Gleek plick."

Not 'Flyday', you dozey bastard. 'F-r-r-r-ri-day'. Why don't you learn to talk English proper?"

So, the Chinaman practised all week. The next Friday, the Greek called out, as usual, "What day is it, Chinaman?"

"F-r-r-ri-day, you Gleek plick."

A newer edition, published in 2000, unaccountably changed the joke so the Greek is the grocer; while the build up and punch line repeats, it does not have same the impact:

A Chinese guy does his shopping at a Greek greengrocer's. The Greek keeps picking on the Chinese because he can't pronounce the letter 'r'.

'It's Friday, you stupid prick, not Fliday.'

'Yeah yeah yeah, Fliday.'

After three months the Chinese had had enough and starts practicing how to say Friday. So the next time he goes to the greengrocer he says to the Greek: 'It's Friday, you Gleek plick." (Phillip Adams and Patrice Newell. The Penguin Book of All-New Australian Jokes. Ringwood: Penguin Books, 2000. 329.)


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