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I think humor comes from the comparison of two states. The ridiculously further apart they are the funnier. Like saying "Wow, I've got a headache. I either need prescription drugs or heroin." Not knee-slappingly funny, but chuckle-ish. It came across better in the "bad things to say" blog comment.


Here's the exception that I guess proves the rule of the three part joke: A priest, a rabbi, and a duck walk into a bar. "Ouch!" "Oy!" "Quack!" Instead of playing on stereotypes (except for the rabbi saying "Oy!") it's a play on the word bar.

Anyway, here's my 2 state joke. My wife has 2 states: talking and sleeping.


Here's the exception that I guess proves the rule of the three part joke: A priest, a rabbi, and a duck walk into a bar. "Ouch!" "Oy!" "Quack!" Instead of playing on stereotypes (except for the rabbi saying "Oy!") it's a play on the word bar.

Anyway, here's my 2 state joke. My wife has 2 states: talking and sleeping.


US politicians are:

1. Republicans
2. Trying to prove what republicans say about them isn't true.


Every politician is either:

1. Republican
2. Someone trying to prove they're not a terrorist sympathiser

disembodied consciousness

There are (at least) four variations of the template for the 2-state joke.

Variant 1
My has only two states

Variant 1 is hard to write but can be funny

Variant 2
My has only two states

Acting in a manner that is stereotypical for members of the ethnic group.

These jokes are tasteless if the ethnic group is racial or religious, and pointless otherwise. They are almost never funny because they lack any surprise.

Variant 3
My has only two states,

Variant 3 is a pun on the concept of the two-state joke. It can be quite funny.

Variant 4
Variant 4 comprises other puns on the two-state joke. The binary joke for instance is funny because it is a two-state joke with 10 states. Combine the binary joke with the "get laid" punchline, and you have a joke that is both a two-state joke and a pun on two-state jokes. In my experience, variant 4 jokes are the funniest. But of course you have to already know that there is a "two-state" joke for the pun to make any sense.


There are only 10 type of people understand binary numbers

Those who do and
Those who don't


A correction to Bob Duckles' post:

There are two kind of people in the world:

1.Those who ADMIT to masturbating.
2.Those who lie about it.

John S

Like post pubescent porn surfers are either:

a) masturbating
b) thinking about masturbating

I envy the guy who's pregnant wife had the "horny-mester". I haven't gotten any since the day of my shot gun wedding May 2007.

That could be read wrong... I'm not a porn surfer.


Are we all married to the same woman?

Chicago has two seasons: Winter and 4th of July.

Lois McMaster Bujold says that Minnesota and Moscow both have the same two seasons: Road Removal and Snow Repair.

And here's a joke:

How many primative people does it take to change a lightbulb? Answer: Many.

jerry w.

Why, this is a great idea that might work in the commercial world....

How about these states:

Some times you feel like a nut.

Some times you don't.

I can just feel the love in the room........


I always liked this one:

There's 10 types of people in the world - those who understand binary and those who don't.


As the comments have shown very well the two state "architecture" only works in a couple of situations. The humour of the joke about the girlfriend in your blog entry is funny because of the situational humour rather than the two state punch line.

I would argue that a far more successful and common architecture is the list of three. This is partly down to how our the human memory works (three things are easy to keep in your head). That's why speeches (especially political ones) often use lists of three to reinforce an argument.

The classic list of three joke set up is "An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman walked into a bar..." (replace whichever list of three stereotypes you want to make a joke about). The joke is funny, generally because of the use of stereotypes (depending on your outlook on those stereotypes), but the architecture of the joke is to take two predictable reactions to a situation and contrast it with a third unexpected reaction.

However, as this comment demonstrates, analysing the architecture of a joke is nowhere near as much fun as actually telling jokes!

John E

2 kinds of people:
1. Those that tell the binary joke
2. Those that get laid

Posted by: Cliff | February 06, 2008 at 09:49 AM

I agree with Pender on this I almost shat myself.
I do qualify in both categories but I am married so I don't think it counts and I belong in the first ctegory.


I always say Florida has two seasons.

1.) Summer
2.) Summer will be right back.


i heavily suffer from two state phenomena. apparently it comes with a hideous name, they call it a bipolar disorder!


There are 0x2 kinds of code in the world.

code = kind_of_code ? sythesizable : useless;


People always laugh when I say I have 2 ways of relating to people:
1) We're OK
2) You're dead to me


Coach always says we have one speed:

Slow and slower


Watching TV with my missus:


1. She won't stop talking (my programme)


2. I can't even breath (her programme)


Hi Scott,
I just wanted to point something out about the blog...
I used to read it every day when there was a link on the daily dilbert which I got by email. Since you removed the link (square advert about the strip) I can't have read it 5 times in the last few months. Could you put it back? I need easier access!
keep up the good work :-)


That reminds me of one I've read somewhere in german:

"There are 3 types of societies:
Those that learned counting, and those that didn't."



I woke up with these in my head:

Alice is either slinging it into the fan or cleaning it off the ceiling.

Dilbert is either swallowing his pride or puking it back up.

Dogbert is either sticking it to the man or basking in the afterglow.

Steven McDaniel

I lived in England for 25 years from 1970 to 1995, and I always describe their weather as having 2 seasons: a cold rainy season and a colder rainy season.
I also cracked up when I read an Asterix comic where they asked an English boatman if it was always foggy, to which he replied, 'Only when it's not raining.'
I'd like to say that to my wife, I'm either 1) silent or 2) wrong, but she's not like that.


Yes, indeed. Next step will be to guess the following day's blog post.

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