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Memory Alpha for ST:TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint"? states:

Apparently at some point during this mission, Geordi La Forge told Data a joke, which the humorless android did not "get" until years later, when he activated his emotion chip during the events of Star Trek: Generations.

Is it known what the joke is?

47

The actual joke is never told. Here is the transcript from Generations:

DATA: Ha, ha, ha! I get it. Ha. ha, ha! I get it.
LAFORGE: You get what?
DATA: When you said to Commander Riker 'The clown can stay...' Ha, ha, ha. '...but the Ferengi in the gorilla suit has to go.' Ha, ha, ha.
LAFORGE: What are you talking about?
DATA: During the Farpoint mission. We were on the bridge and you told the joke. That was the punch line. Ha, ha, ha!
LAFORGE: Farpoint? Data, that was seven years ago.
DATA: I know. I just got it. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Very funny! Ha, ha, ha...

Since the joke was told off screen in the Pilot, and only the punchline is told in Generations, we will never know what this joke was. Based on the punchline I suspect it wasn't very good though.

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    -and they want to have a little team competition. They talk about who they could get to be a fourth player. The Ferrengi says he has a friend he could go get, but warns them he's a bit of a clown. The monk and the clone agree, and the Ferrengi goes to get his friend. When he returns, they see him and a man in a Gorilla suit. The clone and the monk look at each other, and the Clone says-
    – Zibbobz
    Apr 2 '14 at 14:10
  • @Zibbobz +1 for finally telling the rest of that joke. I've been wondering for years. Sep 23 '14 at 12:38
  • It is funny in its self though. It's surreal comedy (i.e. why would a Ferengi be in a gorrilla suit, given what we know about the Ferengi?). It was intended to just be funny on it's own and to me, it is. It's really well written (and performed) IMO.
    – n00dles
    Apr 28 '21 at 15:41
15

possible setup for the joke?

transcript: "A monk, a clone and a ferengi decided to go bowling together..."

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  • 1
    maybe - expect it was explicitly said the joke occurred duing the Farpoint mission
    – NKCampbell
    Jul 21 '16 at 21:42
  • @NKCampbell: Considering that Data doesn't understand humor, I doubt he can adeptly piece his own joke together on the fly. I'm assuming he's just reciting jokes he's heard or read before. Guinan laughs at Data's impromptu (and accidental) joke about his digital timing, which is her point. My point is that Data probably started reciting the joke LaForge told during the Farpoint mission before he was interrupted.
    – Ellesedil
    Feb 1 '17 at 17:54
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    possibly - however, given Data's impeccable memory, it is unlikely he would confuse the words 'clown' / 'clone' and 'monk' / 'gorilla' - the joke in the clip above is clearly a different one
    – NKCampbell
    Feb 1 '17 at 18:21
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    Maybe he's not confusing them, maybe the confusion itself is part of the joke. Like, they communicate with somebody over a patchy connection and the other person thinks he said clown instead of clone and "monkey" instead of "monk" and the punchline depends on the character's presumably hilarious misinterpretation of the situation as being a clown and a Ferengi in a monkey/gorilla suit. Aug 3 '17 at 18:34
13

The joke was never actually told in "Encounter at Farpoint", just a plot device in the movie.

The transcript for the episode is here: http://www.chakoteya.net/NextGen/101.htm

0

The joke is never actually said on screen. I have read somewhere it was a joke that Geordi made to Commander Riker upon meeting Data (the clown) and Lt. Worf (The Ferengi In The Gorilla Suit).

0

The joke is a contradiction: We can safely assume that Data does not err. On the other hand, the crew of the Enterprise only learned of Ferengi a little later. Hence, the term Ferengi could not be used in a joke before that date.

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-1

The incomplete joke, as I'd call it, is a comedic trope unto itself. It involves the revelation of a punchline sans-context, and generally appears as a cut-to or a scene where characters enter in mid-conversation. The premise of this joke-within-a-joke is that — since the audience is not privy to the set-up — the culmination can be particularly absurd or nonsensical. This encourages the viewer to invoke their imagination (as we are here) to envision how one could possibly arrive at the anecdote's wild conclusion. While Data's partial disclosure of a joke told long ago is a slight variation on the typical structure of this device, I'd suggest it is a well-conceived and deftly executed derivation.

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    But this doesn't answer the question if the joke itself is known.
    – DavidW
    Apr 28 '21 at 3:20
  • My point is, the joke was never written. It didn't exist. Not at the time of "Encounter at Farpoint," not at the time of "Generations." The screenplay writers were employing the trope I described. I saw someone post a theory on what the joke may have hypothetically been. But that was just a reverse engineered extrapolation by someone trying to explain the punchline. As Data himself might say: my answer may be unsatisfactory, but it is nonetheless accurate. Apr 29 '21 at 13:19
  • @JErickSinkhorn it might be good to make that super obvious, maybe with a '## title at the top that says something like 'There was no Joke on screen'. You can edit that in
    – AncientSwordRage
    May 7 '21 at 10:44

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