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The quote goes

"Fry, you can't stay here. Sure, they have the Braves, but it's a third-rate symphony"

when referring to Fry staying behind in underwater Atlanta.

I'm assuming this is not talking about a literal symphony, but I don't know what it means. Is it referring to the braves, the city, or what?

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    Pretty sure he just means the actual Atlanta symphony orchestra sucks. Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 23:21
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    It could be typical Zoidberg not understanding human culture and mistaking a baseball team for an orchestra?
    – HorusKol
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 23:50

2 Answers 2

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Zoidberg is saying that, while Atlanta has the Braves, apparently a selling point in his mind, their orchestra is irredeemably mediocre.

The Braves are a baseball team, and the symphony is an orchestra, a group of musicians who play classical music.

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    I disagree - like many things in the Futurama universe - things have changed from Fry's time. Fry would have known the Braves to be a baseball team, but now, probably through a serious of "Idiocracy"-esque marketing permutations the orchestra is now named the Braves' So - the joke is that Zoidberg is referencing something Fry knows, but it is different - and about as different as it could be (major league sports to classical music). Also - the 'third rate' adjective is likely a Braves joke - I'm not sure when that episode was made but it could be that the Braves sucked at that time.
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 0:09
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    @NathanK.Campbell You over-complicated it and missed the joke.
    – 1252748
    Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 1:56
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    @thomas - I think my explanation makes more sense within the way the show works as well as the way it is phrased. I was mostly saying I disagree with Chris' explanation as it doesn't make sense because Zoidberg says "it's" - referring to the Braves - not Atlanta, thus meaning the Braves are the symphony (or he has conflated it). If he said "sure they have the Braves, but have a third-rate symphony" then he would be speaking of Atlanta.
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 2:32
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    @NathanK.Campbell Atlanta and the South are more known for sports than for culture, which makes the joke work. They are not known for baseball teams turning into symphony orchestras, which would make the joke stupid.
    – 1252748
    Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 3:24
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    @NathanK.Campbell: "Also - Atlanta has one of the largest arts and cultural disctricts [sic] in the nation: the Woodruff Arts Center." You are precisely echoing the joke in the episode: "Umbriel: No! Ancient Atlanta was more than just a Delta hub. It was a vibrant metropolis, the equal of Paris or New York." The joke is that Altantans (even today) fancy Atlanta a world-class city.... but it's not. Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 15:38
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Ultimately, the joke can be read as 1. Zoidberg misunderstands human culture and thinks the Braves are an orchestra 2. The Braves have in fact become an orchestra. 3. He is using the term as a metaphor.

The joke is funny either way. I would, however, interpret it as the second for several reasons:

  1. Normally Zoidberg's misunderstanding of humanity is obvious ("no, no, your OTHER mouth!") and medical in nature.
  2. Zoidberg's comment on the quality of the Braves hints at his familiarity with the subject
  3. Baseball doesn't seem to exist in the world of tomorrowwwww.

However, in interest of fairness, an argument for the first interpretation could be:

Zoidberg is typically fairly clueless about humanity and might view such a gathering as appropriate for a symphony and little else. As such sitting through said game and thinking it was a symphony would likely be a dreadful experience.

I have doubts for the third interpretation since Zoidberg rarely delves into metaphor.

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    I think you're missing the larger point here. The joke is a "garden path" joke, i.e., you think it's going in one direction and it veers off in another (and you were led down the "garden path"). When Zoidberg tells Fry that he can't stay here, you assume that it's for more profound reasons, like the fact that it's UNDERWATER. Zoidberg takes a left turn and then insults the symphony, ba-dum-bum. I think you're wearing your sci-fi hat when you should be wearing your comedy hat. Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 15:26
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    Anyhow, there's a fourth way to read the joke, which I think is the obvious way, that "Atlanta" is a third-rate symphony. This is how you refer to symphonies - Dallas is world-class, Fort Worth is third-rate. In each case, when you're a symphony-goer, you instinctively add "...Symphony Orchestra" in that context. Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 15:57
  • I disagree, I think you're wearing your pedantic hat a little too tightly. My point is that all the interpretations are funny ultimately, but since the question is explicitly asking for the joke to be explained (which by its very nature robs every joke of its humor) I must needs therefore elucidate with precision. Your fourth point is not an interpretation of the joke but rather a reading of the meta of the joke.
    – Broklynite
    Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 16:26
  • Explaining a joke doesn't necessarily rob it of its humor. I'd be more than happy to explain any joke to someone who is speaking this language as their second, or who simply doesn't get it. It doesn't devalue it to them, or to me; it brings one more person into it. Which is what this question is about.
    – 1252748
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 3:39
  • I too have done so on many occasions. However, when is the last time you broke a joke down into each of its symbolic representations such that someone with no background could fully comprehend the context- and then they actually laughed?
    – Broklynite
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 8:11

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