Wednesday, March 28, 2018

I Was Named After Queen Victoria

I often tell people I was named after Queen Victoria.
"How can that be?" they ask, mystified, "Your name is Dave."
"Quite simple, really. Queen Victoria was named in 1819, and I was named in 1956, so, not only was I named after Queen Victoria, but it was quite a long time after."

This is one of my favorite jokes, and I have a list of people who are willing to tell it at my funeral, or at the luncheon afterward. You could use many people in place of her in the joke, but I think Queen Victoria makes everything funnier.

This joke is kind of a paraprosdokian, based, in part, on two different meanings of “after” (preposition, “in honor of” vs. conjunction, “later in time than”), as well as on the fact that, in English, nouns (like Queen Victoria) don’t normally have case markers to distinguish between nominative (subject) and objective cases. Personal pronouns, like “she” and “her”, do distinguish cases, so that the joke must always begin with “I was named after Queen Victoria.” Especially if you begin the joke after someone has already mentioned Queen Victoria, you must never say, “I was named after her,” because then the grammar would be wrong, and if you say, “I was named after she (was named),” the joke is ruined.

This joke was inspired by (of all people!) Benny Hill, who talked about an elderly woman by saying “She was named after Queen Victoria.    … [PAUSE] … and not so very long after.”

My second-favorite Queen Victoria joke (NOT TO BE TOLD AT MY FUNERAL) is:

"Queen Victoria is proof of life after death."
"How so?"
"Well, she's dead, and I'm still alive."

The best thing about these jokes is that, for people who know me, my name is now inextricably tied in their minds to any mention of Queen Victoria. Since she is far more famous than I, and far more likely to be mentioned, even by random strangers, I will be called to memory long after I’m gone.

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