delivering a donkey


Senior Member
Czech - Czechia
another weird metaphor from the Batman story I am translating. Be patient with me, the deadline is this Monday ;)
Anyway, the setting is Arkham Asylum where The Joker is giving birth to his new self (don't ask me how come, I didn't write the story):

...he wheezes, then cackles, then coughs, jazzing like a showgirl delivering a donkey onstage.

Does it really say "like a showgirl is giving birth to a donkey"? Although it is not any weirder than The Joker delivering... The Joker, I would still better ask you, native speakers, as I do not want to make my translation even more difficult to understand than the original.
I will be grateful for your comments and ideas.
  • morzh

    1. Delivering, even if used in connection with birth, is not "giving birth" but "assisting with giving birth". Doctors deliver babies; those being assisted (women, female doinkeys) give birth.
    2. I think it means something like, when during a show an animal (a donkey) is being brought to the stage from behind the scenes, it may be led by a showgirl, and she may be making dancing or some other playful moves while walking with or circling around the donkey.


    Senior Member
    English - British
    Shorter OED offers Morzh's definition as the primary meaning, and in the interests of decency maybe we should assume that this is what the author meant; but it adds "give birth to" as a secondary meaning. As I see it, the choice is entirely in your hands, and it depends on whether or not you wish to gross-out your readers. To be honest, though, if a showgirl were to be giving birth to a donkey onstage, I would expect the sound effects to be rather more dramatic than wheezes, cackles and coughs.


    Senior Member
    Czech - Czechia
    Thank you, morzh and DocPenfro, it is a tough coice, though. I mean, throughout the story the author wanted to gross-out the reader, using the most shocking and repulsing metaphors he could think of. But you are right that giving birth to a donkey might be too much. I will have to think it over.


    Senior Member
    English - American
    I think the clue may be "showgirl". They are often tasked with trivial or decorative jobs such as holding up a sign or bringing something onstage.


    Senior Member
    English - US
    At the risk of being crude, it may be euphemistically referring to the type of "showgirl" who does "donkey shows". It's not a female donkey.


    Senior Member
    Czech - Czechia
    Thank you, Myridon, I had to look for "donkey show" in Wikipedia but the result was beyond my expectations!
    And thank you, pwmeek, for pointing out the clue.

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I wonder what 'jazzing' means. Maybe everybody else knows? I am also wondering if whatever ( date?) is being translated would contain such an 'explicit' reference.



    Senior Member
    English but my first language was German
    Before it meant music, jazz meant intercourse. Jazz (th music) started in brothels.



    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    A quick internet search suggests that fans' opinions of this comic are divided. However, I found a comment that may be helpful:
    “I’m a cockroach! La Cucaracha! La Cucaracha! The pain is terrible! I want morphine! I’m having a baby!”

    Morrison describes the strange dance that the Joker here performs as “… jazzing like a showgirl delivering a donkey onstage”. Uh… what does that even mean?? [Source:]
    This suggests to me that 'deliver' means 'giving birth to'. Although I think that 'What does that even mean?' is a reasonable question, I think the comparison is intended to suggest grotesque and theatrical movements.
    < Previous | Next >