Sasha, again. Courtesy of Doug. That enjoyment of life!
Here's the joke. I copied it down somewhere on the Internet:
A dedicated Teamsters union worker was attending a convention in Las Vegas and decided to check out the local brothels. When he got to the first one, he asked the Madam, "Is this a union house?"
"No," she replied, "I'm sorry it isn't."
"Well, if I pay you $100, what cut do the girls get?"
"The house gets $80 and the girls get $20," she answered
Offended at such unfair dealings, the union man stomped off down the street in search of a more equitable, hopefully unionized shop. His search continued until finally he reached a brothel where the Madam responded, "Why yes sir, this is a union house. We observe all union rules"
The man asked, "And if I pay you $100, what cut do the girls get?" "The girls get $80 and the house gets $20."
"That's more like it!" the union man said.
He handed the Madam $100, looked around the room, and pointed to a stunningly attractive blonde.
"I'd like her," he said.
"I'm sure you would, sir," said the Madam. Then she gestured to a 92-year old woman in the corner, "but Ethel here has 67 years seniority and according to union rules, she's next."
The joke may be read as an anti-union one, as one which attempts to tell us why unions don't work (they make you fuck the old hag, say). So pro-union folks might not find it quite as funny as those who hate unions. Or perhaps it doesn't matter that the joke is an anti-union one, because it's funny. In the same way all brothel jokes are seen as funny. Just a bit of silliness, acceptable to all.
That's the usual analysis of something like this. A feminist sort of gets handicapped from the get-go. For instance, I can no longer read jokes like this and not take the imaginary place of all the people in the joke, at least for a fraction of a second, and I can't avoid noticing that the women working in the brothels get hosed in all the versions. Either they get only twenty bucks out of the hundred or they don't get custom at all. Or perhaps most disgustingly, they still have to work a job like that at the age of 92.
(You know what's interesting? I have those little imps using a lemon grater on my brain right now, whispering that everyone will tell you what a prude you are, what a humorless feminazi you are, and that you should relax and not get so wound up about every little bit of fun in life. And the imps have a point, of course (not to mention a grater): Jokes like this don't really matter in the larger view of life, and I don't ultimately care what jokes people tell each other.
But I really believe that interpreting what it is we laugh at and why can tell us a lot about the society. Just imagine yourself an alien from outer space and think of the prior explanations that would be needed to explain this joke to you.)