The Duck Joke Variations

A duck walk into a pharmacy, says give me some chapstick and put it on my bill.


A waterbird walks into an apothecary, says give me some moisturizing balm and put it where my lips would be if I had lips


An avian wetland dweller waddles into a convenience store, asks a clerk if they have anything behind the counter that might soothe and also protect the edges of his beak.


There is a bird in a store. It is saying it’s bill hurts. Apparently it can speak. What the hell am I supposed to do?


There is a joke about a duck in need of over the counter medication. It relies on similes. The joke, not the duck. It is a very, very funny joke, but also somehow sad and plaintive.


There is a joke with a bird in it that is hilarious yet also tragic. Some aspect of the humor revolves around plantains.


There is a Koan (Ko-Wan) involving a creature with uncomfortable lips that has no lips. There are no plantains in this Koan and while a little odd, it is meant for contemplation, not amusement.


If the duck means ‘bill’ in the sense of beak, what gives him the right to demand a product for free? If the duck means ‘bill’ in the sense of payment, what does he want chapstick for? Is he a collector? A fetsihest?  Is he getting the chapstick for someone else, someone who presumably has lips? What if they don’t have lips? Where will they put the chapstick? Why am I crying? Because I am allergic to plantains.


In restaurants, a bill is sometimes referred to as a ‘guest check’, which is absurd. If someone is your guest, why are you charging them? A bill is also sometimes referred to as a beak, but only if there are birds in your restaurant. Or some sort of genetic Chimera.


The Duck Billed Platypus is not a genetic chimera, although one might be forgiven for thinking it was. It is a Monotreme, one of only four. Monotremes are mammals, but they lay eggs. They do not speak or use drugstores. Scientists do not know what the fuck is up with them.


A duck walks into a drugstore. As soon as it begins to speak it is set upon by clandestine agents of the government who take it away, question it for days and eventually dissect its brain.


A duck walks into a library and says give me some chapstick, and put it on my bill. I tell him this is a library. He repeats the phrase, but whispers.


There is no duck. You are the duck. There is no drugstrore. Your mind is the drugstore.There is chapstick. Everybody knows what chapstick is.


Former olympic skier Suzy Chaffee walks into an endorsement contract. Reading it she thinks, if I do this, I will make a great deal of money. But there is the possibility I will never be remembered for anything but a stupid nickname. I won championships. I was captain of an Olympic team, I worked tirelessly to pass title IX legislation. I do not want to be a punchline. If only I could see the future, as the duck billed platypus is said to be able to do.


A duck would eat and enjoy a plantain. I am certain of it. A Platypus? Your guess is as good as mine. Monotremes are mysterious fuckers.


‘The Duck Variations’ walks into a store. It cannot ask for anything. It cannot pay for anything. It is a one-act play written in 1972 by a young David Mamet. That’s funny right? This concept? Maybe. The play is funny. But I didn’t write it.


The title of ‘The Duck Variations’ is a reference to ‘The Goldberg Variations’ by one of the Bachs or Mozart or some classical guy. I think Mamet would like you to believe that in some ways ‘The Duck Variations’ is influenced by, or maybe even an homage to ‘The Goldberg Variations’, but you know what? I doubt that. I think it’s a nod that Mamet hoped you might  think was something more. A lazy act by a talented writer. That’s what this piece  is. The title implies a relationship to a play when it’s really just a nod, a sadder nod.  Most highbrow folk know what ‘The Goldberg Variations’ are and almost nobody remembers ‘The Duck Variations’, A funny, but insignificant play, compared to the author’s later body of work.. My nod is more than sad. It is plantain.


This is not the first thing I have written that plays off ‘The Duck Variations’ and ‘The Goldberg Variations’ to create a desired effect. If that’s not plantain, I don’t know what the hell is.


Plantain sounds like plaintive. That’s not a joke. I don’t mean I’m serious, I mean literally. It’s not just that it’s not funny to say the wrong word over and over and pretend you have confused the meaning. It’s not structurally a joke at all.


‘Plantain’. HAH!


A Plantain walks into a duck and says ‘Hey, you got Chapstick in my Monotreme’. The duck screams ‘A talking plantain!’. The duck and the plantain are descended upon by clandestine government agents and soon have their brains dissected. Life is a miasma of suffering.


A duck walks into a store of any kind. That’s funny, but not funny ‘hah-hah’. What is it doing there?


A duck walks into anywhere and says something. That seems in the abstract like it might be funny, but if it happened, you would be scared. You would be gld when the clandestine government agents arrived.

Suzy Chaffe. Her lips. A CVS. An entire aisle of Plantains. Everyone who works there is ducks, but since ducks can’t talk, they are shitty CVS employees. All the customers are frustrated.


Life is a miasma of poor customer service and brain dissection.








You didn’t duck, most likely because you thought I was going to say ‘goose’. You imagined we were playing a game, and now you are injured, perhaps severely by some flying something that would not have struck you in the head had you obeyed instead of misunderstood my command.


Perhaps the flying something was a hurled chapstick. Or a duck. That would be funny.


Life is a miasma of ducks.


Put it on my bill.