This is about an Inspector who goes around carrying out inspections of lunatic asylums.
The asylum he is inspecting on this particular occasion, he has never been to before, so he doesn’t know quite what to expect.
He and the Warden are chatting in reception when the Inspector asks:
“Where are the inmates at the moment?”.
The Warden looks at his watch and says
“Well, it’s lunchtime – they’ll be in the dining room. Shall we go?”.
The two make their way to the dining room.
The inmates are busy eating away at their lunch while the Inspector and Warden stand chatting at the front of the dining room near the serving hatch
All of a sudden, the conversation is interrupted when one of the inmates stands up and claps his hands three times.
All the other inmates go quiet.
The standing inmate calls out “Fifteen”.
This causes some amusement with the other inmates and they start giggling and chuckling.
The Inspector sees this and thinks, well they have obviously got some sort of game going on and just carries on chatting with the warden.
A few minutes later, another inmate stands up, claps his hands three times and again, all the other inmates go quiet.
The standing inmate calls out “Twenty-six”.
Again, the other inmates are amused, even more so this time, and are laughing profusely.
The Inspector becomes more curious about what is happening and looks at the Warden for inspiration, but he too seems very amused.
Again, the Inspector assumes it’s something quite innocent and not wanting to appear unprofessional he continues chatting with the Warden.
A few more minutes later, another inmate stands up, claps his hands three times and the other inmates go quiet.
The standing inmate calls out “Thirty-Five”.
This time the other inmates are really, really laughing with belly laughs and guffawing.
The Inspector can no longer withhold his curiosity and turns to the Warden.
“I’ve seen inmates stand up, call out a number and everyone starts laughing, just what is going on?”.
“Well,” says the Warden “The inmates just love to tell jokes, but it’s a bit time-consuming and difficult sometimes for them to recite the whole joke.
So, what they do is, they give each joke a number, then, when they want to tell a particular joke, they just call out the number”.
The Inspector ponders for a while, and thinks well, there is a certain logic in that and asks the Warden:
“I would like to try it; can I have a go?”
“Go ahead” says the warden.
The inspector steps forward, claps his hands three times and all the inmates go quiet.
The Inspector thinks for second, and picking an arbitrary number, calls out “Fifty-six”.
Well! - That does it!
The inmates are in hysterics.
Guffawing, falling about with uncontrollable laughter, tears rolling down their faces.
An inspired and smiling Inspector turns to the Warden and says
“Well, that must have been a good one”.
“Yes!” says the Warden with tears running down his face
“We haven’t heard that one before!”.