I'm trying to figure out the word play behind this dialog (it is taken from A Bit of Fry and Laurie show - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaqZpcPEZEY):

  • Good morning.
  • Right. Can I help you?
  • Yes, your face, my arse.
  • No, I said, "Can I help you? "
  • Oh, I see. Yes, I'd like some information, please.

I've tried to google it and have found a similar slang "answer" for "Do you have a match?" question. I understand that it that case word play comes from the fact that "match" has two meanings to it.

But it seems that "Can I help you?" has only one meaning to it - where does "Yes, your face, my arse." come from?

  • Is this an odd way of saying kiss my ass? Like your face, my arse is the same construction as you, me, bedroom, 10 minutes. Not British so just spitballing. Dec 24, 2015 at 7:00

1 Answer 1


Speaker A asks "Can I help you?" and gets the answer from speaker B "Yes, your face, my arse."

This is the joke answer to an entirely different question, namely "Do you have a match?"

Speaker A concludes that Speaker B has misheard "Can I help you?" for "Do you have a match?" so Speaker A clarifies his question by repeating it.

Speaker B admits his mishearing by saying "Oh, I see" and proceeds to respond reasonably to the Speaker A's question offering help.

The joke (such as it is) is that nobody would mistake "Can I help you?" for "Do you have a match?" but both parties proceed to act as if that were a perfectly natural thing to happen.

  • Or, the "joke" is that people just proceed with "small talk" on assumption, without even listening to what was actually said.
    – Jeff Y
    Dec 24, 2015 at 11:55

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