If I Could Walk That Way..

If I Could Walk That Way..

… I wouldn’t need the talcum powder. A very old joke, almost never used anymore in fiction, except when lampshaded. But what are the origins?

– ‘Excuse me, I’d like some talcum powder, please.’
‘Walk this way, please.’ 
– ’If I could walk that way, I wouldn’t need the talcum powder.

The setup for the joke is simple: one character requests something. The other character tells the first to ‘walk this way’ and walks off. Then four things can happen:

  1. The punchline follows: ‘If I could walk that way, I wouldn’t need…’
  2. The first character mimics the walk of the second person.
  3. The first character mentions that he is not going to make that joke.
  4. The first character follows the second one.
  5. The joke is off course the double entendre in ‘walk this way‘, meaning ‘follow me’, as well as ‘walk like me’.

Variation one occurs when person one is either very stupid or wants to tease person two, the latter being more likely. This is the basic version of the joke, and very recognizable. Sometimes followed by person one being punched in the face or being arrested (the latter only in Monty’s Python Flying Circus)

Variation two occurs when person one is either very stupid or wants to tease person two, the first being more likely. This version is less common and therefore less recognizable, but still noticeable. Sometimes followed by an irritated look from person two or person two not noticing anything and therefor doing nothing.

Variation three occurs when the writer is aware of the overuse of the joke and makes clear he does, by calling attention to it and ignoring it. Sometimes followed by a disappointed reaction.

Variation four occurs when the writer is aware of the overuse of variation three or does not know the joke (which is very rare). Sometimes followed by a meaningful look of person two, confusing person one, however, usually no attention is called to it at all, which is also the goal of variation four.

This joke has become so old it is starting to disappear from real life. So if your chemist tells you to walk this way, just say you don’t need the aftershave (and get ready to be arrested).

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