The Killing Joke explanations


Aug 7, 2012
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I read The Killing Joke the other night and there is a part I didn't fully understand.

In Joker's joke at the end, the answer the second man gives to the first man.

See, there were these two guys in a lunatic asylum... and one night, one night they decide they don't like living in an asylum any more. They decide they're going to escape! So, like, they get up onto the roof, and there, just across this narrow gap, they see the rooftops of the town, stretching away in the moon light... stretching away to freedom. Now, the first guy, he jumps right across with no problem. But his friend, his friend didn't dare make the leap. Y'see... Y'see, he's afraid of falling. So then, the first guy has an idea... He says 'Hey! I have my flashlight with me! I'll shine it across the gap between the buildings. You can walk along the beam and join me!' B-but the second guy just shakes his head. He suh-says... He says 'Wh-what do you think I am? Crazy? You'd turn it off when I was half way across!
For me this joke is a comparison between Batman and Joker to emphasize the fact that they are not as different as they seem to be. Because both men want to jump over the gap, but only one does it. The last part is still a mystery to me.
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I never thought the joke itself was as important as Batman's reaction to it. If you want to look at the joke more closely, the last part certainly seems to deal with lack of trust.

If I remember correctly, the joke comes right after Batman offers to rehab the Joker who says it's too late. The analogy could be that two guys "not quite right in the head" ie. the inmates and the Joker/Batman are working together for a cause, but one doesn't trust the other, keeping them from making progress....or one is just too crazy, leading to the same outcome.
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Are you saying you don't get the meaning of the joke as a parallel to story, or that you didn't get the joke itself?

To explain the part you bolded within the context of the joke itself: The first guy who jumped across has a flashlight. He offers to turn on the light, so the second guy can walk on the beam (the beam of light coming from the flashlight, not an actual physical beam). The second guy didn't protest the part of walking on the light beam, he was just worried they guy would turn off the flashlight, which would kill the beam he was walking on and fall.

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