One of the fun things about live bluegrass music performances is that it seems to be standard practice for bluegrass musicians to include jokes and humorous anecdotes in the show. I guess this is an old tradition. You can hear it in the old radio broadcasts of the “Grand Ole Opry“, and the tradition has been carried on in public radio’s “Prairie Home Companion”.
At a free concert in a local park (of course I go to free concerts) I saw Monroe Crossing, a bluegrass band led by a man who not only sings and plays guitar, but also knows how to tell a joke. Some of his jokes were a running gag the subject of which was the youngest band member: his youth and good looks, his nice clothes, and his fancy saddle shoes. One of the jokes that referred those beautiful shoes ended with the punchline, “Just three more payments and they’re all his”.
Part of the humor was the way he said the line: slow, sardonic, and after a well-timed pause. It’s also funny because it seems absurd. Pay for shoes on an installment plan? That’s how most people pay for cars! (Although it would be better if they didn’t.) A loan? For shoes? Paying interest to a moneylender to get a pair of shoes? Ha!
But think about it.
If you buy shoes, or clothes, or lunch and dinner with a credit card and if you don’t pay 100% of the balance every month before any interest accrues, then you’re the butt of the joke.