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Here's the joke:

Tom's Dad:(in Bill Gates's office) My son Tom wants to marry your daughter. Are you interested?

Bill: No, my daughter is still too young.

Tom's Dad: What if my son is a VP at Google?

Bill: Wow, that should be out of any question!

Tom's Dad:(in Larry Page's office) My son Tom is a talented young man. He wants to work for you as a VP at Google.

Larry: Too much talent here already.

Tom's Dad: What if he is Bill Gates's son-in-law?

Larry: Wow, we welcome him on board!

I was just looking for one joke to share in classroom, and this one caught my eye. Obviously, some business strategy is involved in this great piece. I'd like to expand a bit on the strategy in the classroom, but I can't come up with a technical term or some universally recognized term to introduce the strategy.

I'm no business student, nor did I see the joke in a business context or textbook. It's really hard for me to think of one. Help!

EDIT: It's NOT joke construction help. I just use this joke to describe the strategy (due to lack of a better one).

I really like the "play X off against each other" answer, which however is not EXACTLY what I want. I am looking for an English expression (if any) which conveys the idea that I have nothing myself (am a nobody) and I employ other people's reputation or strength to achieve my own goal.

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closed as off topic by Mitch, mmyers, FumbleFingers, waiwai933 Nov 9 '11 at 4:49

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I think the joke has a flaw. The joke tries to convey that being a VP at Google is to Bill Gates a very bad thing, while being Bill Gates' son-in-law is to Larry Page a very good thing. The second half works because we see Larry Page quickly change his attitude when the connection to Bill Gates is mentioned. However the first half of the joke lacks that kind of 'backflip' by Bill Gates. The joke needs to be rejigged somehow so that Gates' first response is an emphatic 'Yes' only for him to change his mind when the fact of Tom's Google connection is raised. –  Snubian Nov 9 '11 at 2:32
    
The fourth line is a little off. The intended language is probably "That's out of the question", rather than "That should be out of any question". –  Snubian Nov 9 '11 at 2:34
    
@Snubian I assume "out of the question" means impossible while "no problem" was intended. –  Terry Li Nov 9 '11 at 2:37
    
@Snubian You got the idea of the joke. Feel free to re-word it for me :) –  Terry Li Nov 9 '11 at 2:39
1  
This is pretty off-topic. Joke construction help? This isn't even English specific. –  Mitch Nov 9 '11 at 3:00

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The phrase you're looking for is "playing (X) off against each other." Examples can be found here:

http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/play+off+against http://forums.plentyoffish.com/datingPosts13693636.aspx

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Thanks, I'm satisfied with your answer! –  Terry Li Nov 9 '11 at 4:48

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