Perfection. I’m speaking, of course, about the title of the 1978 book by Phil Hirsch and Don Orehek, 101 HAMBURGER JOKES.
101 HAMBURGER JOKES. There are no other three words so descriptive and fun, and I will say that right to an Aliens Versus Predator poster. If I was trying to come up with a funny name for a fake book and my brain landed on “101 Hamburger Jokes,” I would take the rest of the day off to buy trophies. 101 Hamburger Jokes is what we should have called this website. It’s a careless shrug from an accidental genius. It says both “keep your expectations reasonable” and “I’m from a better world, where Zany is the only language.” It is both a wink from a magical comedy pixie and a tired sales pitch from a man holding 70 hamburger jokes.
Betrayal. What is this? Phil Hirsch dressed a burger up like a cat. Then he asked you what he had done. Then he explains, yes, you guessed right: cat-burger, but not some kind of burger-cat like you’re thinking. He’s a cat-burger (burglar), because the burger part is a pun on a concept we didn’t establish. And how dare he. This is many things –many things– but a hamburger joke is not one of them.
Well, yeah. Sure. I mean, what else would it be? This isn’t a hamburger joke. It’s not even a hamburger riddle. This is what you would draw if you were playing a sad Pictionary game by yourself. Sorry, let me translate that into burger. This is a Pictionary clue Veal Armstrong would draw if Bun Aldrin abandoned him on the moon!
Phil published this the year “Cheeseburger in Paradise” was the 32nd most popular song. The song “I’m Your Boogie Man” was literally the number one hit while he was writing it. And there he was in a world of burger and burger soundalike songs expecting readers to think, “A hamburger’s most familiar song? Oh, oh! It’s got to one about range! Something about range, come on, think.” Get the fuck out of here, Phil.
They feel at home on the ra– oh, god damn it, Phil. So even the “101” part of 101 HAMBURGER JOKES was a lie!? Fuck you.
I really wanted to love this book. Let me see if I can find a good one…
No. This feels like the world’s greatest lawyer making a case for why puns should carry the death penalty. Someone really thought they could turn 40% of all words into forced meat references and simply carry on communicating like a human. Oh, and it looks like Phil tried cat-burger (burglar) again, somehow not making a reference to burglary a second time. Phil, if cat-burger (burglar) is your punchline, the set up is either “What kind of a burger steals?” or “What’s the most popular food (and most common occupation) in Cincinnati?”
Phil, you son of a bitch. Don’t make this about meat type.
Oh, very funny, Phil. You’ve made the hot dog the ugliest girl at the meat ball, over in the corner talking to ham. I’m not going to go back and forth like this with you. You know you were wrong for “cat-burger (burglar)” and for trying that desperate “Home on the Range” bullshit two different times. Can we get back to a normal article where we just enjoy your perfectly-named book, 101 HAMBURGER JOKES?
I’ll take that as a yes. Thank you, Phil.
Now that we’re being civil, I want to try to understand what’s happening here. There seems to be a way of things in this hamburger joke world. Is that a human priest marrying those food monsters? If so, it implies they live among us and we legally recognize their love. We share a God and can break His laws together. Maybe if we can understand this universe the jokes will start to make sense?
First off, let’s verify the scale of things. Is that really a full-size priest, or did these snacks climb to the top of a wedding cake to play make-believe with the topper? Is it a world where humans are burger-sized? Let me find one with some hard numbers.
Okay, this is great. I’m not sure what anyone would do with this in any other context. Not laugh, probably, but it does establish the burgers in this book are roughly human-sized and have combat sports. Does that mean a person can box a cheeseburger? If they get hurt do they go to a human doctor or are there meat medical scho– wait, hold on. In this world, do man and meat fuck?
Whoa, that’s closer to a definitive yes than I was expecting. You might notice there is no pun or wordplay in this one. Phil just changed an entire unrelated word to hamburgers, which is cheating even by his loose code of joke ethics. He had to keep those patty holes in his book at all costs. He wanted us to know they were there. Because a kid’s joke book could never come right out and say, “Human men sexually dominate these burger people, and here’s a picture of it.”
I was wrong. I’m so happy I was wrong!
This one is troubling. I think it’s a nightmare Phil has about falling and realizing everyone can see his tampon string (plus he’s a burger dog). We’re offered six (6!!!) choices for the “punchline,” and not a single one of them describes what is plainly a dog burger. If that thing walked onto a cartoon, you wouldn’t have to introduce it. That’s fucking Dog Burger, maybe Puppy With-Cheese. If anything looks at this and says, “Wow, a football stadium with the seats removed,” hit it in the head with a hammer. But forget all that. It’s frustrating and I hate it, but forget it. This one tells us these burgers have smaller, animal burgers as pets! And, maybe more importantly, you leash a burger by shoving one end of the leash inside them where an “asshole” might be found on you or me.
We’re learning a lot. Not about comedy, but about what it takes to build a world where meat can walk and love. Today, if someone started up a discussion about defining burger gender you’d brace yourself for something worse than shitty wordplay, but remember, these burgers live in 1978. And maybe a darker one than ours, because here’s one about blackface:
Let’s give as much credit to a man making blackface burger puns as we can– that picture of hamburger Al Jolson could have been a lot worse. Now, for a lot of reasons, I want to get back to burger fucking.
“Draw me a burger who fucks people,” said Phil, right before Don Orehek won nothing less than the Nobel Prize for Pervert Burger Illustration. Why do they sign headshots afterward? Patty, if you have to ask… look, the point is, anything goes in this world. All burgers are men, horny fuck-champion men, and they don’t care if you’re hot dogs or people.
Or barely lega– wait, oh no. I know how this question is going to sound, but what is the age of consent in a world where you can have sex with cheeseburgers? Because, and again I know how this is going to sound, I’m not going to fuck a burger more than 3 years old.
Let’s ignore Phil’s sloppy reach for a pun here. Phil Hirsch couldn’t write a joke with a burger and a dick hole, and he’s proven specifically that. But he can offer up fascinating ideas. Does this hamburger joke mean the buns are women? How does that work? Is there penetration, or is their reproductive process more like hermit crabs changing shells? How do these living, working, sentient burgers make more of themselves?
Oh my god. Are the burgers made from the remains of the humans? I need to know if that hamburger is going to grind up meat that can beg him to stop or if being ground up is a normal part of a meat’s work day. Is this a ritualized death ceremony? You can’t casually draw a picture of a hamburger walking into a slaughterhouse.
So they’re meat made from flesh, but their blood is catsup!? And some hamburgers rise from the dead to feed on it? And they feed by freaking out at Burger King until someone gives them a medical ketchup transfusion! To think Phil created all of this, a sudden world of hungry burger vampires terrorizing fast food restaurants, just for that gasping beached whale of a punchline… it’s almost beautiful in its tragedy. It’s like lovingly nursing a sick tiger back to health only to sell it to Mike Tyson.
The rules of the hamburger world seem mostly defined by the whims of Phil’s strained puns. So burgers go to school, but either for 1800 years or just to get grilled alive for a few minutes. Their flesh comes from cows, but they have sex with teen humans named Patty. And speaking of, if you live in this world, know this about the burgers, and still name your daughter Patty, what are you doing? No, answer me. Why’d you name her Patty, meat fucker?
I guess the problem with a world built around a dumb idiot’s dumbest wordplay is that Phil keeps squashing meat into words where it doesn’t make sense.
See, look at this stupid son of a bitch. He added the word “meat” to a word but didn’t change its meaning or function. This is like saying “What kind of ball of meat did the meat become? A meatball (meatball)!” A regular thermometer will tell you the temperature of your burger, you fucking dumbshi– oh wait, I just now realized we haven’t established whether or not these burgers are still food.
They are food! But they don’t want to be!? Dear god, when people go through the buffet line, does that baby burger beg for his life? You might think I’m doing a bit where I’m overthinking 101 HAMBURGER JOKES, but I’m not. I genuinely think you need to establish the basic hamburger rules of life and death before it’s funny to kill them. Or maybe not, because look at this fun mess:
So that burger dressed up like a rooster to have sex with chickens, or maybe dressed up like a rooster for another reason and this is a happy accident, but then, in addition to that, a man is stalking him with an axe. To kill the intruder in his chicken coop? Or is he also fooled by the disguise and his intention is to eat what he thinks is a rooster? And if you do kill a chicken who happens to be a burger in disguise, are you disappointed? Do you say, “Oh, gross! It’s not a raw chicken, but a fully cooked cheeseburger! Aww man, and his balls are absolutely drained.”
Jesus Christ! So in the 101 HAMBURGER JOKES world everyone is food, including the reader? This is… fuck. I don’t know what to do with this. It’s like a dad joke you’d tell if you and your son were eating a hitchhiker. Let’s maybe change gears and do a desperate overreaching pun one…
Unidentified? Phil, you have identified hamburgers twice a joke for over fifty jokes! And UFOs don’t “fry” unless… oh damn it, is this more racism? It was a bad idea to try to figure out Phil’s comedy. I’m going back to trying to figure out his worldbuilding.
So hamburgers watch human entertainment, but weirdly translate actor names into their own language? Like Spanish class? What happens if someone has a name that can’t be meat punned like Mads Mikkelsen? Never mind, Meats MikkelSous-vide. One second, though; what happens if a different burger names him Wads Meatelbun?
Now I’m confused. This burger has a human name, but plays baseball in a burger-pun town, and he only throws fastballs? I’m never going to figure this out. Let’s skip to the last hamburger joke and see how Phil wraps this up.
I have to hand it to Phil. This has a clunky set up, but would not get you fired from a mid-tier popsicle stick copywriting job. And what’s this? Some kind of final hamburger joke quiz? Oh, hell yeah.
It’s pretty bold to open a quiz with a repeat of a joke the reader saw one page ago, but it’s even bolder to make the answer to every multiple choice question the write-in option of “I’m a fucking stupid meatball.” Phil Hirsch is an anti-comedy golem built from the sadness of a thousand war crimes, but I can’t remember the last time I read a book with this many surprises.
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