The Viola Joke as Musician’s Folklore was uncovered whilst idly Googling. I sought research on the tradition of genre-specific ostracism-based musician jokes. These jokes are directed at a specific instrument, and are told within a community of musicians who participate in ensembles including the instrument being mocked.

The best known of these are banjo jokes, viola jokes, and drummer jokes. The banjo mockery is associated with traditionally-oriented pickers; the viola jokes are for consumption by a classical consort, and drummers take shit from rockers.

One article appeared tantalizingly beyond the web, however. Knowing the Score: The Transmission of Musician Jokes among Professional and Semi-Professional Musicians, by Nancy Groce, was published in the New York Folklore Journal Vol. 22 in 1996, but appears online only in the list of contents.

To judge a book by its’ cover, however, the title appears to propose a function for the jokery: it establishes that the joker has been exposed to the culture of working musicians. If that’s the thesis, I’d love to read more.

Are there similar categories of writer’s jokes?