1. The joke is that many people will just read “navel” as “naval”. They’ll get to the last panel, and *then* see what he was actually talking about. It only works if you don’t notice the actual word used until it’s exposed.

  2. I didn’t get it at first, either, because as a retired bellydancer, I’m aware that many local dance schools will call themselves a Navel Academy. I just figure he’d seen an ad for his local troupe.

  3. When I was a young kid, my parents would go to dances hosted by the local naval base. My sister and I would joke that they were going to the ‘Belly-button Base’…and we’d laugh and laugh and laugh. Ahhh, to be 7 years old again.

  4. @ Stan – One time when I couldn’t remember the name of the fruit, I asked where the “bellybutton oranges” were. I don’t know how old I was, but seven sounds about right.

  5. P.S. A significant part of the humor in this strip is that Grimm sees the pun coming and gets out of the room before the punchline is delivered.

  6. @Kilby – “gets out of the room” – does that mean “have an outie” is a pun – 1) have actual belly button shape 2) have sense of humour that forces someone to leave, get out.

    Contraception, or dancing (though neither work particularly well): Navel engagement without loss of seamen.

  7. @ narmitaj – No pun intended. I just meant that he left (got out of earshot) to avoid the groaner.

  8. I didn’t mean you were punning, but maybe the cartoonist was. Possibly unconsciously!

  9. “So what kind of doctor are you?” “I’m a naval doctor.” “Boy, when you doctors specialize, you really specialize!” USO comic telling a joke on an episode of M*A*S*H

  10. The joke, I suspect, is that Grimm sees it coming and manages to escape before he has to be struck with the utter stupidity.

  11. I have to admit I find juxtaposition of “Yes, “navel” sounds like “naval”…” and “But what’s the joke?” perplexing. It’s a bit like saying “Yes, I realize this piece of metal will allow the bolt in the door to slide and let the door open unimpeded… but where is my key?”

  12. Grimm’s leaving to avoid the punchline is, of course, comic logic. It doesn’t work well unless he can see the spelling in the word balloons.

  13. What do you call a hula hoop with a nail in it? A navel destroyer. I note that two classes of naval destroyers, O’Brien (Miles) and Tucker (Charles III, Trip), are names of leading characters in technical roles in Star Trek (DS9, Enterprise).

  14. Does anybody else think the joke would have worked better if the cartoonist had used ‘naval’ all the way through?

  15. … or didn’t have the dialogue printed at all, and just distributed it as an audio clip. 🙂 (Along with the drawing in normal visual form of course.)

    Almost seriously, sometimes there is no satisfactory way to write out a pun, and you want it to be just spoken so that homophony can keep indeterminate. Like, what is the “right way” to write out the “two tents” joke?

  16. I was going to ask what the two tents joke was, but then I thought just Google it.

    I’m sorry I did.

  17. >> Does anybody else think the joke would have worked better if the cartoonist had used ‘naval’ all the way through?

    Since “naval” is spelled “naval”, the correct way to do this strip would be to spell it “naval” and Mike Peters was simply in error throughout the entire strip. There’s nothing difficult about writing out puns. You type the misleading way. So the two tents way is to spell it “two tents”.

    Likewise, Where do Deadheads sleep when following the Grateful Dead on the road? In tents, man! In tents!

    The problem only arises is the punchline is too obscure that the reader can not make the connection on one’s own. (As the “two tents” joke can arguably be considered.) In which case you can do a hyphen or parenthetical as an explanation: “You’re two tents (too tense)”.

  18. I was very confused as a child because I knew that citrus were a good source of vitamin C, and that scurvy resulted if you didn’t get enough vitamin C, and that naval ships used to carry citrus to ward off scurvy. So I thought it was “naval orange” for quite a while.

    Yes, I was a weird kid.

  19. Well, the right whale was called the “right whale” because it contained the good stuff and was the right whale for the whalers to catch, so naval oranges for ships sounds plausible.

  20. @ Grawlix – I don’t know whether the line about atheists and foxholes applies to bellybuttons. On the other hand, the primary problem for those soldiers would not be mud, but lint.

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