Storehouse of Laughter – Chapter 8



Shooting a tiger

A man was eaten by a tiger. His son picked up a bow and arrow, and was ready to shoot the tiger, when the father called out from the tiger’s mouth: “Aim for the feet. Don’t damage the tiger’s hide!”



Rescue from drowning

A man fell into the water and was drowning. His son called out for someone to help save him. His father stuck his head out from the water and said to him: “If they ask for more than three pieces of silver to save me, don’t bother!”



Reluctant host

A person was stingy by nature, and never had guests at his home. One day, a neighbor borrowed his house to stage a banquet. Someone saw this, and said to a servant of the house owner: “So your master finally is playing host.” The servant said: “If you want my master to play host, you’ll have to wait for the next century!” His master heard this and scolded him: “Who told you to give him a date!”



Door god

The night tour deity saw the door god on duty and took pity on him, asking: “You’re a fine and hefty fellow. Why persist in being someone’s hanger-on? You have such a hard life serving him day and night.” The door god replied: “I have no other choice.” “Do you at least get something to eat?” “No.” “Since they are your hosts, they should at least give you something to eat.” “If I wanted something to eat, they wouldn’t want to be my hosts.”



A man wanted to have a pair of trousers made, but was unwilling to spend much on cloth. He went from tailor to tailor, but dismissed each of them in turn as being wasteful with fabric. Finally, one tailor said: “I can do it with only three feet of cloth.” The man was happy with this, and brought the cloth to him. However, the tailor made only one trouser leg for both his legs. The man said: “This is impossible! How can one walk with trousers like these?” The tailor laughed and said: “You can’t expect to save so much and still be able to walk.”



A monkey died and met the King of Hades. He begged to be reborn as a human. The King said: “Since you want to be human, we’ll first need to pluck out all your fur.” He then called one of his yakshas to do it. But on plucking the first hair, the monkey cried out in pain. The King laughed and said: “How can you become human, if you can’t even spare a hair (i.e. be so stingy)?”



Tin toilet

A woman felt that wooden toilets were too easily broken, and wanted to have one made from tin, which would be more durable. Someone quoted a figure of five pounds of tin. Shocked, she rejected it as being too expensive. When another said he could make it with one pound, she also found that excessive. Finally, someone said that he could make it with only three taels. She was very happy, and asked: “How would you make it with three taels?” The tinsmith said: “I’ll just hammer out a tin spoon. When m’lady wishes to answer the call of nature, she can just ladle it out.”



The Midas touch

A poor scholar bumped into an old acquaintance on the road. The old acquaintance in the meanwhile had already become an immortal. When the scholar had finished listing all his woes, the other man touched a stray brick lying by the road with his finger, turned it into pure gold, and presented it to him. The scholar complained that it was too little, so the other man touched a large stone lion, and presented that to him. The scholar still complained that it wasn’t enough. The immortal said: “What do you want, then?” The scholar said: “That finger of yours.”



Wine cooperative

Two people wanted to make wine together. A told B: “You provide the grains, and I’ll provide the water.” B said: “If I provide all the grain, how will we split the products?” A said: “I don’t intend to cheat you. Once the wine is ready, I’ll take away the watery part, and you can have all the rest.”



Planting together

A pair of brothers were planting a field together. The millet was ripe for harvest, and they were discussing how to split the yields. The older brother told the younger: “I’ll take the upper half, and you’ll take the lower half.” The younger brother was shocked and said that this wouldn’t be fair. The brother replied: “Don’t worry. Next year, you’ll take the upper half, and I’ll take the lower half.” Next year, the younger brother was urging the elder to sow the fields. The elder said: “This year, we should plant taro.”



Taking advantage

There was a man who was fond of taking advantage of other people. His neighbors warned each other about him, and no one dared to pass in front of his door. Someone decided to walk past his house while holding a pebble in his hand, thinking that there could be no harm in that. The man saw him, and called out: “stop!” and hastened him into his house. From the kitchen he took out a knife, and started sharpening it on the pebble. “You can go now.”




New silk gown

A man put on a new silk gown and went out. He was afraid that no one would see it, so he walked with his shoulders pulled up to his ears. After some time, he asked his servant: “Is anyone looking?” The servant replied: “There’s no one about these parts.” And so the man relaxed his shoulders, saying: “Since there’s no one here, I’m going to take a break.”

Another version makes fun of Neo-Confucians. There was a Neo-Confucian who got caught in the rain. He drew in his arms and slowed his pace, with a reverent expression on his face. After turning into an alley, he asked his servant: “Is there anyone behind us?” “Nope” He immediately hastened his pace, saying: “Since no one’s looking I’m going to go seek shelter from the rain.”





A master told his servant: “When you go out, you ought to exaggerate a little, to keep up appearances.” The servant nodded in agreement. So when the servant heard someone talking about how large was the Hall of Triple Purity, he said: “That’s just like my master’s house.” When someone mentioned how big was the Dragon’s Coat Boat, he said: “That’s just like the little skiff we have at home.” When someone talked about a big-bellied bull, he said: “That’s just like my master’s belly.”

Another version says that when he saw a horse, he said: “Our dogs at home are bigger.” When he saw a donkey, he said: “Our cats at home are bigger.” When he saw a boat, he said: “My mistress’s feet are bigger.”


Braggart (2)

A: “We have a drum at home which is so big, that every time you strike it, the sound can be heard for a hundred miles.”
B: “We have a cow at home that’s so big, when it takes a drink from the southern bank of the river, its head is pressed up against the northern bank.”
A (shaking his head): “That’s impossible, there can’t be a cow like that.”
B: “If there wasn’t a cow like ours, how could you have the leather to make a drum like yours?”



Filial daughters-in-law

An old man said: “I have three daughters-in-law at home, and they are all very filial. The eldest, afraid that my sense of taste is weakened with age, will always add more salt (#wordplay – a pun on “harbor resentment”) when I am home. The second, afraid that I am feeling lonely, will play the drums loudly for me. The youngest is the most filial of them all. There’s a saying that eating a mouthful less at dinner will keep you living to ninety-nine. And so she doesn’t let me eat dinner at all!”



Emptying the latrine

Two henpecked men were talking. B complained to A, saying: “The missus is becoming even worse. Last night she even wanted me to empty the latrine!” A grabbed him by the arm and said: “That is definitely crossing the line! If it were me, I wouldn’t put up with that!” A’s wife overheard this and loudly cried out from the distance: “If it were you? Just say what you would do if it were you.” A immediately fell to his knees and said: “If it were me I would just empty it.”



Taking off her shoes

A wife ordered her husband to take her shoes off for her. Her feet stank terribly, and he couldn’t help but cover his nose with his hand. The wife was furious, asking him what he meant by that gesture. He replied: “I just ate some garlic, and was just afraid that the smell might bruise my mistress’s precious feet.”




Avoiding a beating

A man couldn’t stand being beaten by his wife any more, and so he hid under the bed. The wife called to him: “You’d better get out!” He replied: “A real man stands by his word! I said I wouldn’t come out, so I won’t!”

The so-called “real men” of today are mostly of this sort. It’s a real pity.



How much wine?

A man had some guests over at his home for drinks. Every time his wife warmed up a new pot of wine for them, she made a stroke on her face with the soot from the cauldron to keep count. The man kept on calling up more wine from the kitchen. Eventually, the servant-boy said to him: “Do slow down with the wine; Madam’s face is becoming quite hard to look at.”



Male prerogative

A group of henpecked husbands were having a meeting. They wanted to find a way to stop fearing their wives and restore their male prerogative. Then someone said to them fearfully: “Gentlemen, our wives have found out about this meeting, and are planning on coming to teach us a harsh lesson!” The group immediately dispersed in all directions, except for one man who sat fast in place. Everyone thought that he was the only one there who had no fear, but it turned out that he had simply died from the fright.




A henpecked man was lately widowed. Leaning on the wife’s coffin was her portrait. Owing to his long pent-up resentment, he was going to smack the portrait, but just at that moment a gust of wind blew and made it move. The man hurriedly drew back his hand and said: “I was just kidding!”



There was a man who was notorious for dawdling. He was walking very slowly one late afternoon, when the night watchman saw him outside the city walls. The watchman asked: “Where are you going?” “Back to my house.” Whereupon the watchman arrested him for breaking the curfew and wanted to bring him before a magistrate. The man protested: “It’s not yet dark! How could I have been breaking the curfew?” The watchman replied: “With the way that you dawdle, by the time you reach your front door it would already be two past midnight.”




Someone was passing through a wasteland when he saw human bones exposed on the ground. Taking pity on the poor soul, he reburied the bones. At night he heard a knocking on his door. He asked who it was, and the reply: “Fei.” He asked again, and the reply: “I am Yang Fei (the Consort Yang, one of the four great beauties of China). I came to grief at Ma Wei, and my remains were not given a proper burial. I am grateful to you, sir, for burying my bones, and I am here to share your pillow in appreciation.” And so he accepted her offer with great glee. The neighbor overheard this and was jealous. He went to scout out the wasteland, and chanced upon some exposed bones, which he buried. At night, there was a knocking on his door. He asked who it was, and the reply: “Fei.” He asked: “Are you the consort Yang Fei?” But the reply came: “I am Zhang Fei.” The neighbor was shocked, and loudly asked: “Why has General Zhang come back to this world?” He replied: “I came to grief at Lang Zhong, and my remains were not given a proper burial. I am grateful to you, sir, for burying my bones, and I have specially come to offer my hairy bum in appreciation.”


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