Birds on the Telephone Lines: A Deaf Joke

In ASL oral literature, this classical joke has been passed on from generation to generation from the 20th century through Deaf teachers at schools for the Deaf and Deaf community as well as Deaf families.

[video of the original version to be added later]

Numerous black birds rest on the black telephone lines and gently sing whenever hearing people make phone calls.

Whenever Deaf people make phone calls, these birds jumped up and down alternatively like music notes waving across the music score.

Why are these birds jumping up and down constantly whenever Deaf people make phone calls?

As the Deaf callers typed on an old M33 machine of the 1980s, the keys stomped heavily and loudly.

Teletyper M33
Image source: Internet posted by Anita Mazzuca, 2014.

True, it was very loud. So loud that all of us (Deaf family) could sense the vibration all across rooms in our apartment unit in the 1980s. It wasn't long before we received our TTY.

It is a joke or riddle of the 1980s among Deaf people, but everything has changed today with technology: texting, videophone, etc.

Jay Harris tells a modified version from the original version to fit in the 21st century's videophone used among Deaf people.

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