Why did the chicken cross the road?
||This article may contain original research. (September 2010)|
"Why did the chicken cross the road?" is a common riddle or joke in several languages. The answer or punchline is: "To get to the other side." The riddle is an example of anti-humor, in that the curious setup of the joke leads the listener to expect a traditional punchline, but they are instead given a simple statement of fact. "Why did the chicken cross the road?" has become largely iconic as an exemplary generic joke to which most people know the answer, and has been repeated and changed numerous times.
- ...There are 'quips and quillets' which seem actual conundrums, but yet are none. Of such is this: 'Why does a chicken cross the street?['] Are you 'out of town?' Do you 'give it up?' Well, then: 'Because it wants to get on the other side!'
There are many riddles that assume a familiarity with this well-known riddle and its answer. One class of variations enlists a creature other than the chicken to cross the road, in order to refer back to the original chicken joke. For example, a turkey or duck crosses "because it was the chicken's day off," and a dinosaur "because chickens didn't exist yet." Some variants are both puns and references to the original, such as "Why did the duck cross the road?" "To prove he's no chicken" or "Why did the gum cross the road?" "Because it's stuck under the chicken's foot." Other variations replace side with another word, like "Why did the chicken cross the playground? To get to the other slide." A mathematical version asks, "Why did the chicken cross the Möbius strip?" "To get to the same side." Another version of the joke is that "the other side" can refer to the afterlife, and that the chicken intended to get struck by a car.
Another class of variations, designed for written rather than oral transmission, employs parody by pretending to have notable individuals or institutions give characteristic answers to the question posed by the riddle. As with the lightbulb joke, variants on this theme are virtually limitless.
- The Knickerbocker, or The New York Monthly, March 1847, p. 283.
Further reading 
- Robert Flach. "Why did the chicken cross the road? (science/philosophy)". allauthors.com.
- Ryan North. "Jokes explained: Why did the chicken cross the road?". insaneabode.com.
- Yves Roumazeilles (31 December 2006). "Why did the chicken cross the road? The story of a meme". roumazeilles.net.