“A rabbi, a priest and a minister walk into a bar. The bartender says: “What is this, some kind of a joke?”
Ah, yes. The rabbi, the priest and the minister. A triumvirate in any number of jokes. The set-up’s got all sorts of humor tropes implicit in it.
First of all, there’s the Rule of Three. I’ve written about this before: The first instance sets up the situation, the second establishes the pattern, and the third breaks that pattern. The disparity between expectation and reality is what creates the laugh.
A rabbi a priest and a minister were fishing together in a rowboat on Sunday afternoon. They started talking about the Bible, and about the miracles. They all agreed that while God could pass miracles, it was unlikely that they occurred as often as the Bible said they did.
“On the other hand,” said the minister, “I have no trouble believing that Jesus walked on water.”
“Absolutely,” said the priest, “no doubt about that one.”
The rabbi expressed his skepticism politely, but his two friends insisted. “It’s true,” said the minister. “I’ll prove it!” With that, the minister hopped out of the rowboat and walked to shore barely getting his feet wet.
The rabbi sat in slack-jawed amazement, even as the priest followed his colleague, jumped over the side, and likewise walked to shore.
“Amazing!” exclaimed the rabbi. He gathered himself, leaped out of the rowboat, and disappeared as the water closed over his head.
On shore, the priest turned to the minister and said: “You think we should have showed him where the rocks are?”
In addition to the Rule of Three, these jokes tend to have the whole religious/mysticism thing going for them—they often involve death or the rituals surrounding death. That means we’ve got the whole ‘Whistling in the Dark’ grim humor going, too. Not to mention the contrast between the clergy’s holy functions and their wholly human personae…
A local atheist, a wealthy man, has remained on friendly terms with all the local clergy. When the atheist dies, the rabbi, priest and minister learn to their surprise, that his entire fortune has been divided equally among the three of them—with the understanding that EACH must put $10,000 in the atheist’s open coffin before it lowered in the ground.
At the memorial service, the minister approaches the coffin, mutters a prayer, and puts $10,000 in the coffin.
As the body is being moved to the hearse, the priest approaches the coffin, crosses himself and places $10,000 in the coffin.
Right before the body is being placed in its grave, the rabbi approaches the coffin, grabs the $20,000 and places a check for $30,000 in the coffin.
Another joke is similar in spirit…
A rabbi, a priest and a minister are sitting about (NOT in a rowboat) talking about donations. It quickly becomes evident that not all of the contributions from their respective congregations make their way to charity. The trio begin to discuss how the money is distributed.
“Well,” says the minister, “Once a week I take all the donations we receive into the back room. I draw a circle on the floor. I stand in the middle of the circle and throw the donations up in the air. Whatever lands outside the circle, goes for God’s work. Whatever lands inside the circle I keep for myself.”
“That’s remarkable,” says the priest. “I, too, take all the donations we receive into the back room once a week. Like you, I draw a circle on the floor and throw all the donations up in the air. However, whatever lands inside the circle, goes for God’s work, and whatever lands outside the circle I keep for myself.”
“Now, this is an amazing coincidence,” says the rabbi. “Like the two of you, I take all the donations we receive into the back room once a week. I too, draw a circle on the floor, stand in the center, and throw all the donations up in the air. And whatever God wants, he keeps!”
Anyone ELSE find it a little off-putting that the rabbi is the butt of all three of those jokes? Or that two of them involve Jews and money? Oh, well. I don’t particularly want to delve too deeply into those issues.
Here’s one more with the rabbi bringing up the rear as it were.
A rabbi, a priest and a minister are walking along a deserted road on a hot day. They come to a stream. Since there’s no one around, the trio decides to go skinny dipping. They stash their clothing in a stand of trees, and make their way to the stream. No sooner do the three of them start splashing about than the minister spies a whole crowd of people from the town making its way down the road.
Trapped, the trio stare helplessly at one another. At last, the minister takes a deep breath, covers his privates with his hands, and dashes from the stream, through the crowd, and down the road to where the clothes are stashed.
The priest looks at the rabbi, takes a deep breath, covers his privates with his hands, and dashes from the stream, through the crowd and down the road to where the clothes are stashed.
Alone, the rabbi takes a deep breath, covers his head with his hands, dashes from the stream, through the crowd and down the road where the clothes are stashed.
His friends, already dressed, are waiting for the rabbi when he arrives among the trees, and help him into his clothes. While the rabbi is adjusting his yarmulke, the minister says, “We saw you make your run—you’re pretty fast!! But tell us, why didn’t you cover your privates?”
“I don’t know how it is where YOU work,” replied the rabbi, “but my congregation would recognize my face.”
Hey, at least this time the rabbi isn’t the – ahem – butt of the joke.
There are also a whole bunch of jokes which drop the minister entirely. The rabbi and priest jokes mostly compare and contrast celibacy and the laws of kosher. Those jokes are pretty funny, too. Perhaps we’ll delve into them on another occasion….unless you’d like to post some of them yourselves.