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In the film The Running Man (1987), Arnold Schwarzenegger cut a man into two halves. His name was Buzz Saw. Then another man said: "Where did Buzz Saw go?" And Arnold Schwarzenegger said: "He had to split." In the cinema people laughed to hear this, but I don't understand why.

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It's a pun on the word "split". –  Rupe Jul 10 at 9:55
    
If he didn't recognize the pun immediately, telling him it's a pun isn't likely to help him -- he presumably doesn't know the slang meaning of split. –  Barmar Jul 14 at 19:36

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up vote 23 down vote accepted

It's a pun on the word "split", vs. the idiom "to split". In English, a common, informal expression is "having to split" for "having to leave". (This comes from leaving a group of people being effectively the same as splitting off from them.)

The verb split itself, of course, can mean to be literally split into two halves.

In this case, we had a pun because the man (Buzz Saw) was split into halves. Another man asks where Buzz Saw went (implying that Buzz Saw is absent at this point, i.e. has left). Schwarzenegger says that Buzz Saw has left (he had to split). Unbeknownst to the asker, however, Schwarzenegger also literally split Buzz Saw in two.

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Obligatory: i.stack.imgur.com/eHl71.jpg –  Newb Jul 10 at 10:39
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Thank you Mr/Mrs Newb! Now I can enjoy to watch the film every way - the graet acting, fiting and also funy things! –  The Beefer Fan Jul 10 at 11:45
    
+1 for "unbeknownst"... I have to use that more often. –  André Terra Jul 10 at 18:31

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