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This is a joke from the TV series "Friends".

— Can I borrow this? My milk's gone bad.
— I hate that. I once had a thing of half-and-half. Stole my car.

I'm thinking that it has something to do with the ambiguity of "gone bad", but I don't understand what "I once had a thing of half-and-half" means.

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I think your intuition is right. It's a bit of a strange joke. I don't find it very funny really. – Noldorin Nov 10 '10 at 22:04
The joke would be clearer if the word 'thing' were replaced by 'container'. – thursdaysgeek Apr 20 '11 at 22:58
Seems to me more like 'tin of half-and-half', the latter being milk-and-cream in the US. – Kris Jan 12 '12 at 9:14
up vote 13 down vote accepted

Half and half is a mixture of half milk and half cream.

I would say that the joke (as you believe) is

  • My milk has gone bad
  • That happened to me once. My ('irrelevant to the joke' choice of) milk was so bad that it stole my car

Not a particularly good joke, edit (though now I think I remember it from Friends, I think the delivery would have saved it. Chandler, if I am not wrong)

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Yes, Chandler, but he's not the only one. Ross's quondam father-in-law (Ron Leibman) once complained to him about the ongoing corrosion of his sailboat. "You know what rust is, Ross? It's boat cancer!" Ross sympathizes, "As a kid, I lost a bike to that once." ObEnglishSE content: "to lose X to" means to have a loved one die of some particular cause or affliction. "We lost their father to heart disease." – Malvolio May 29 '12 at 16:00

The joke turns on two different means of the phrase "goes bad."

When milk "goes bad," it spoils. When a person "goes bad," they commit a crime, such as stealing a car.

As johnc mentioned, half and half is a mixture of milk and cream, and it can also spoil.

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