This is the "astonishing trove of viola jokes'' that Alex Beam mentioned in his Boston Globe column on Wednesday, November 30, 1994 (p. 65).
What's the difference between a chain saw and a viola?
After his retirement the violist arrived home carrying his viola case. His wife saw the case and asked ``What's that?'' (In Germany it is a standing joke that some players leave their instruments in their lockers, removing them only for rehearsals and performances.)
A violist and a 'cellist were standing on a sinking ship. ``Help!'' cried the 'cellist, ``I can't swim!'' ``Don't worry,'' said the violist, ``just fake it.''
A violist came home and found his house burned to the ground. When he asked what happened, the police told him ``Well, apparently the conductor came to your house, and ...'' The violist's eyes lit up and he interrupted excitedly, ``The conductor? Came to my house?''
A 'cellist and three violists walked into a restaurant. Presently a waiter came over to serve them. ``Good Evening, sir,'' he said to the 'cellist. ``And what would like tonight?'' ``I'd like a rump steak, medium rare,'' replied the 'cellist. ``Would you like anything with that?'' ``What do you have?'' ``Salad?'' suggested the waiter. ``No, thank you,'' said the cellist. ``Potatoes?'' ``Ah, no.'' ``Vegetables?'' ``Oh, they'll have what I'm having.''
A viola player went to a piano recital. After the performance he went up to the pianist and said, ``You know, I particularly liked that piece you played last--the one that started with a long trill.'' The pianist said, ``Huh? I didn't play any pieces that started with trills.'' The viola player said, ``You know--[he hums the opening bars of Fur Elise.]''
A violist in an orchestra was crying and screaming at the oboe player sitting directly behind him. The conductor asked, ``What are you so upset about?'' The violist replied ''The oboist reached over and turned one of the pegs on my viola and now it's all out of tune!'' The conductor asked ``Don't you think you're overreacting?'' The violist replied ``I'm not overreacting! He won't tell me which one!''
A violinist noticed at the end of each rehearsal break, one of the violists would look at the inside flap of his jacket before he sat down to resume rehearsal. This continued for several decades, and the violinist became quite curious about it. One day, during hot weather, the violist took off his jacket and went off on break. The violinist waited until everyone was off the platform, looked around, and sneaked over to the jacket. He pulled back the flap and saw a little note pinned on the inside. It read: ``viola left hand, bow right.''
A man went into a novelty shop and saw an item that caught his fancy almost immediately. It was a stuffed rat. The man couldn't take his eyes off it, and finally asked how much it cost. The answer was ``$79.95, but if you buy it, you can't return it for any reason.'' The man thought this was a bit odd, but he was really taken by the stuffed rat so he bought it. As he headed down the street with the stuffed rat, several live rats started following him. He thought this was really odd, but he kept walking. Within a few blocks, he had a huge pack of rats behind him. When he got to the river, he threw the stuffed rat into the river, and all the live rats jumped into the river and drowned. The man returned to the shop. As soon as he walked in, the owner said ``I told you you couldn't return the stuffed rat!'' The man said ``No! I don't want to return it! I was wondering if you had any stuffed violists.''
A viola player decides that he's had enough of being a viola player--unappreciated, all those silly jokes. So he decides to change instruments. He goes into a shop, and says, ``I want to buy a violin.'' The man behind the counter looks at him for a moment, and then says, ``You must be a viola player.'' The viola player is astonished, and says, ``Well, yes, I am. But how did you know?'' ``Well, sir, this is a fish-and-chip shop.''
An American orchestra had just arrived in Europe for a two-week tour. One hour before the first concert, the conductor became very ill and was unable to conduct, and the orchestra suddenly had to find a substitute. The orchestra manager asked everyone in the orchestra whether they could step in and conduct, and the only person who was willing was the last chair violist. The manager was very nervous about this. ``We can't audition you,'' he said. ``No problem,'' replied the violist. ``There's no time to rehearse. You'll have to do the concert cold.'' ``I know. It'll be all right.'' The violist conducted the concert and it was a smashing success. Since the conductor remained ill for the duration of the tour, the violist conducted all of the concerts, getting rave reviews and standing ovations at each one. At the next rehearsal, the conductor had recovered, and the violist took his place at the back of the viola section. As he sat down, his stand partner asked him ``Where've you been for the last two weeks?''
Once there was a violist playing in the Winnipeg Symphony. He wasn't that wonderful a player, so he sat at the back of the section. One day he was cleaning out his attic and discovered an old lamp. He gave it a rub and out popped a genie. ``For letting me out of my lamp I'll grant you three wishes!'' he said. The violist thought for a moment and replied, ``Make me a far better musician than I am now.'' The genie told him that this would be done. He was to go to sleep, and in the morning he would be a much better musician. The next day he woke up to find himself the principal violist of the Symphony. Well, this was just great, he thought! But he knew he could do better. He rubbed the lamp again, and out popped the genie. ``You have two more wishes!'' he said. ``I want you to make me a better musician than I am even now!'' Once again, the genie told him to go to bed, and when he woke up it would be so. When the violist awoke, he found he was now the principal violist of the Berlin Philharmonic. Well, the violist thought this was pretty grand, but knew he could do better yet. He rubbed on the lamp again, and once more out came the genie. ``This is your last wish.'' the genie said. ``I want you to make me yet a better musician still!'' Yet again, he was told to go to sleep. The next morning, he woke up to find himself back in Winnipeg, sitting in the last desk of the second violin section.
A violist was hiking in the mountains, and he came upon a shepherd who was tending a large herd of sheep that were grazing in the alpine meadow. The violist took a fancy to the sheep, and asked the shepherd: ``If I can guess how many sheep you have, can I have one?'' The shepherd thought this was an odd request, but thought that there was little chance that the man would guess the exact number of sheep, so he said ``Sure.'' The violist guessed ``You have 287 sheep,'' to the shepherd's astonishment, since this was exactly how many sheep he had. The violist got all excited and asked ``Can I pick out my sheep now?'' and the shepherd grudgingly gave his permission. The violist selected his sheep, bent over, and swung the sheep over his shoulders, to carry home with him. The shepherd then got an idea and asked ``If I guess what your occupation is, can I have my sheep back?'' The violist was a bit surprised by this, but figured that it was unlikely that the shepherd would be able to guess his occupation, and went along with the deal. The shepherd then guessed ``You're a violist, aren't you?'' The violist was very surprised and asked, ``How did you know?'' The shepherd responded, ``Put the dog down and we'll talk about it.''
A man (call him Horace) went on a safari in darkest Africa with a bunch of other people and some native guides. They traveled on foot, going deep into the jungle where they could hear the screeching of birds and howling of wild cats and other fierce wild animals. After a few days of travel, Horace came to notice that there was a constant drumming noise in the background. He asked the leader of the guides what the drumming was. He got no answer, just a stony silence. The drumming continued all day and all night for the next several days. In fact, as they traveled deeper into the jungle the drumming got even louder. Horace tried again to find out what the drumming meant by asking the other native guides, but he still got no answer. Finally one morning, after days of marching to this drumming (which by now was sounding quite ominous), the drums suddenly stopped. The native guides screamed and ran into the jungle to hide in the undergrowth. The leader remained behind with his charges, but he was trembling with fear. Horace asked ``What is wrong? Why have the drums stopped?'' The native guide replied ``Very bad.'' ``What?'' asked Horace, who was expecting the worst. The guide answered ``When drum stops, very bad--next comes viola solo!''
FOR SALE Viola: German, 19th century, 405mm. Excellent condition. Recently tuned.
ENTRY EXAM FOR THE BBC SYMAPTHY ORCHESTRA--VIOLA PLAYERS The pass mark is 10% but be careful--over 45% and you are overqualified.
1. Who wrote the following: a) Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 b) Faur 's Requiem c) Wagner's Ring Cycle [5 pts.]
2. Tschaikovsky wrote 6 symphonies including Symphony no. 4. Name the other five. [5 pts.]
3. Explain ``counterpoint'' or write your name on the reverse of the paper. [10 pts.]
4. Which of the following would you tuck under you chin?
a) a timpani b) an organ c) a 'cello d) a viola [1 pt.]
5. Can you explain ``sonata form''? (Answer yes or no.) [5 pts.]
6. Which of the following literary works was made the subject of a Verdi
a) First among Equals -- Jeffrey Archer b) Macbeth -- William Shakespeare c) Noddy and Big Ears -- Enid Blyton
7. Domenico Scarlatti wrote 555 harpsichord sonatas for which instrument?
9. Where would you normally expect to find the conductor during a performance? [5 pts.]
10. Which of the following wrote incidental music to A Midsummer Night's
a) Des O'Connor b) Mickey Mouse c) Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy d) Terry Wogan [5 pts.]
11. Which of the following is the odd one out?
a) Sir Colin Davis b) Andrew Davis c) Sir Peter Maxwell Davies d) Desmond Lynham [5 pts.]
12. Arrange the following words into the name of a well known Puccini opera. Bohme, La [5 pts.]
13. Within five minutes, how long is Chopin's Minute Waltz? [5 pts.]
14. From which of the following countries did Richard Strauss come?
a) Venezuela b) Sri Lanka c) Germany d) Japan [5 pts.]
15. For what town were Haydn's ``Paris'' Symphonies written? [5 pts.]
16. Which is the odd one out?
a) Fantasy Overture Romeo and Juliet -- Tchaikovsky b) Romeo and Juliet -- Berlioz
c) Romeo and Juliet Ballet -- Prokofiev d) Ten Green Bottles -- anon. [5 pts.]
17. From which song do the following lines come? ``God save our gracious Queen, Long live our noble Queen.'' [5 pts.]
18. Spell the following musical terms. allegro rallentando crotchet pizzicato intermezzo [5 pts.]
19. Tosca is a character found in which Puccini opera? [5 pts.]
20. Arrange the following letters to form the abbreviation for a well
known British broadcasting corporation. C, B, B. [5 pts.]