Patrick sent me this list of viola jokes back around 2014 or earlier. These originally came from MIT. In 2017 he and I had a conversation about this list of jokes, which has been posted on this site.
FROM THE ORIGINAL EDITOR: Note: I’m moving a few things around to make maintenance of these pages easier. The preferred URL for this page is now http://www.mit.edu/people/jcb/jokes/viola.html. (The old URL will continue to work, however, so most people probably won’t even notice the change.) In early 1997, I will split this page up into two or three separate pages, to alleviate the problem some people have reported of the page being truncated.
These jokes have enjoyed wide publicity. They have been mentioned in such places as Alex Beam’s Boston Globe column on Wednesday, November 30, 1994 (p. 65), John Hayward-Warburton’s article in BBC Music, and Dave Barry’s book Dave Barry in Cyberspace (pp. 153-4).
These jokes are a continually-growing collection, and unfortunately, I can no longer remember which jokes I heard from whom. If you have ever told, emailed, or otherwise communicated to me a music joke, thank you.
I also collect jokes about other instruments
How is lightning like a violist’s fingers?
Neither one strikes in the same place twice.
How do you keep your violin from getting stolen?
Put it in a viola case.
What’s the difference between a violin and a viola?
- The viola burns longer.
- The viola holds more beer.
- You can tune the violin.
We all know that a viola is better than a violin because it burns longer. But why does it burn longer?
It’s usually still in the case.
How do you get a viola section to play spiccato?
Write a whole note with “solo” above it.
How do you get a violist to play a passage pianissimo tremolando?
Mark it “solo.”
What’s the difference between a viola and a coffin?
The coffin has the dead person on the inside.
What do you do with a dead violist?
Move him back a desk.
What’s the difference between a viola and a trampoline?
You take your shoes off to jump on a trampoline.
What’s the difference between a viola and an onion?
No one cries when you cut up a viola.
What’s the definition of a minor second?
Two violists playing in unison.
What’s the definition of “perfect pitch?”
Throwing a viola into a dumpster without hitting the rim.
Why do violists stand for long periods outside people’s houses?
They can’t find the key and they don’t know when to come in.
What’s the difference between a seamstress and a violist?
The seamstress tucks up the frills.
What’s the difference between a washing machine and a violist?
Why do so many people take an instant dislike to the viola?
It saves time.
How can you tell when a violist is playing out of tune?
The bow is moving.
How was the canon invented?
Two violists were trying to play the same passage together.
Why is playing the viola like peeing in your pants?
They both give you a nice warm feeling without making any sound.
Why is a viola solo like a bomb?
By the time you hear it, it’s too late to do anything about it.
Why is a viola solo like premature ejaculation?
Because even when you know it’s coming, there’s nothing you can do about it.
Why do violists leave their instrument cases on the dashboards of their cars?
- So they can park in “handicapped” parking places.
- If someone mistakes them for mafia, they might get some respect.
Why don’t violists play hide and seek?
Because no one will look for them.
Why do violists smile when they play?
Because ignorance is bliss and what they don’t know can’t hurt them.
Why shouldn’t violists take up mountaineering?
Because if they get lost, it takes ages before anyone notices that they’re missing.
What’s the difference between a dead skunk in the road and a crushed viola in the road?
Skid marks before the skunk.
How do you get a violin to sound like a viola?
- Sit in the back and don’t play.
- Play in the low register with a lot of wrong notes.
If you throw a violist and a soprano off a cliff, which one would hit the ground first?
- The violist. The soprano would have to stop halfway down to ask directions.
- Who cares?
A conductor and a violist are standing in the middle of the road. Which one do you run over first, and why?
The conductor. Business before pleasure.
Why is a violist like a terrorist?
They both screw up bowings (Boeings).
What’s the most popular recording of the William Walton viola concerto?
Music Minus One
What do a viola and a lawsuit have in common?
Everyone is happy when the case is closed.
What is the range of a viola?
As far as you can kick it.
What do a SCUD missile and a viola player have in common?
They’re both offensive and inaccurate.
Why are violas so large?
It’s an optical illusion. It’s not that the violas are large; just that the viola players’ heads are so small.
What’s the difference between a chain saw and a viola?
If you absolutely had to, you could use a chain saw in a string quartet.
What is the definition of a cluster chord?
A viola section playing on the C string.
Why do violists get antsy when they see the Kama Sutra?
All those positions!
If you’re lost in the desert, what do you aim for? A good viola player, a bad viola player or an oasis?
The bad viola player. The other two are only figments of your imagination.
Why shouldn’t you drive off a cliff in a mini with three violas in it?
You could fit in at least one more.
How many violists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
None. They’re not small enough to fit.
Why do people tremble with fear when someone comes into a bank carrying a violin case?
They think he’s carrying a machine gun and might be about to use it.
Why do people tremble with fear when someone comes into a bank carrying a viola case?
They think he’s carrying a viola and might be about to use it.
What’s the difference between the first and last desk of a viola section?
- half a measure
- a semi-tone
Why can’t you hear a viola on a digital recording?
Recording technology has reached such an advanced level of development that all extraneous noise is eliminated.
Did you hear about the violist who bragged that he could play 32nd notes?
The rest of the orchestra didn’t believe him, so he proved it by playing one.
Why is viola called bratsche in Germany?
Because that’s the sound it makes when you sit down on it.
Why can’t a violist play with a knife in his back?
Because he can’t lean back in his chair.
What instrument do violists envy most?
The harp. You only ever have to play pizzicato on open strings.
What’s another name for viola auditions?
What is the difference between a violist and a prostitute?
- A prostitute knows more than two positions.
- Prostitutes have a better sense of rhythm.
What is the similarity between a violist and a prostitute?
Both are paid to fake climaxes.
How do you get a dozen violists to play in tune?
- Shoot 11 of them.
- Shoot all of them.
- Who the hell wants a dozen violists?
What’s the latest crime wave in New York City?
Drive-by viola recitals.
How does a violist’s brain cell die?
How do you call a violist with two brain cells?
Why do violists have pea-sized brains?
Because alcohol has swelled them.
How many violists does it take to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies?
Ten. One to stir the batter and nine to peel the M & M’s.
What’s the similarity between the Beatles and the viola section of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra?
Neither has played together since 1970.
What is the longest viola joke?
Harold in Italy
[look it up]
What do you call a bunch of violists in a hot tub?
Did you hear about the violist who played in tune?
Neither did I.
What is the main requirement at the “International Viola Competition?”
Hold the viola from memory.
Why did the violist marry the accordion player?
How do you transcribe a violin piece for viola?
Divide the metronome marking by 2.
Why do you always bury a viola player three feet under?
Because deep down they are all very nice people.
How do you keep a violist from drowning?
Take your foot off his head.
Note: the following joke is very funny in German, but doesn’t translate well into English.
Was sind die drei Lagen auf der Bratsche?
Erste Lage, Notlage, und Niederlage.
What are the three positions of the viola?
First position, emergency, and defeat.
I’m the son of Patrick of Meadows.