The Ceremony of Laughter

An explorer lived among friendly natives near the Amazon. He had learned their language, and was very fascinated of their ceremonies. They let him watch many of them, but there was still one he hadn't been allowed to see.
It was the great Ceremony of Laughter. This ceremony was held every Wednesday night, and only the men took part in it.

One Tuesday night the medicine man said to the explorer:
"You may watch our Ceremony of Laughter tomorrow night, we have found you worthy."
Next evening the ceremony began. All the men in the tribe sat round about the fireplace.
The Chief stood up. "56", he said in a loud voice.
The men burst out laughing. The explorer looked at them. He didn't understand at all. What was so funny with 56?
A native stood up and said: "22"
Also this time the men laughed for a long time. Another man stood up, said a number, and everybody laughed.
The explorer thought: "Hmm. Why don't I try myself?"
He stood up, cleared his throat, an said: "741"
All the men laughed, some of them even rolled on the ground laughing!
"Hey, what's so funny??", he asked when they had stopped laughing.
The Chief then explained: "You see, this Ceremony of Laughter is meant to honour the Gods and Goddesses of Laughter. We therefore tell eachother funny jokes.
There is a problem, though, we have very many jokes, and not much time to tell them all.
So, we numbered them, and now we just tell the number of a joke, and everybody knows which one it is.
The one YOU told was extra funny - we had never heard it before!!

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1996 Jemima & Carl-Henrik Hammarlund. All rights reserved.