"Do you know what the Bullroarer said when he saw twenty wargs coming over the hill toward him?"
"No. What did he say?"
"He said 'There's twenty wargs coming over that hill'."
The big man looked at the hobbit walking next to him. Merry was grinning up at him. Boromir couldn't help but feel a smile starting. They walked on for a while.
"What's grey, and could kill you if it fell out of a tree onto you?"
Boromir glanced sidewise down at his companion, who was attempting to stifle a giggle. The sight made him chuckle.
"Why do oliphaunts paint their toenails pink?"
"I don't know, Merry. Why do oliphaunts paint their toenails pink?"
"So they can hide upside down in the strawberry patch."
By this time, Pippin, who had been within earshot of all of these jokes, was attempting to repress a fit of giggles. The two jokesters were now exchanging the jokes perfectly straight-faced, and there seemed to be a competition between them, to see who would laugh first.
"What's black and white and red all over?"
"Got me on that one."
"A sunburned magpie."
At this one, Pippin started laughing aloud, and it appeared that Legolas was having trouble repressing his own laughter as well.
"Well, let me tell you the tale of the man who had a talking dog," said Merry. "He took this dog into a bar, and introduced the dog around to all the other folk there. Anyway, nobody believed him when he said that the dog could talk, so he wound up setting a challenge for the dog. 'Here's a copper. Go to the Widow Grubb's stall, and bring me back a candy cane.' The dog said 'All right', and headed off out the door.
"Well, three hours later, and the dog still hadn't returned, and the man went searching for him. He searched high and low for the dog, and eventually found the dog, out back of the tavern, with a lady dog. Now, I'm sure that you know what a man dog and a lady dog will do if they get the chance, so I won't bother explaining these things in great detail. But the man was shocked, and he said to the dog, 'You've never done this before.' The dog looked over at him and replied, 'I've never had the money before!'"
Pippin had trouble keeping his feet, thanks to the laughter that overwhelmed him. Legolas was grinning, while Sam and Gimli, who'd been within earshot of that one, were laughing too. Boromir grinned at Merry, then launched into his own joke once Pippin had got his breath back.
"There was a man who awoke in the Houses of Healing after a battle, and was greeted by a healer who told him that they had good news for him, as well as bad news. 'All right,' says the man, 'tell me the bad news first.' The healer looks at him and says, 'We've had to amputate both of your legs.' This shocks the man for a little while, but he soon asks, 'What is the good news, then?' At this the healer says, 'The man in the next room wishes to buy your boots.'"
The laughter of the two young hobbits drifted forward to where Aragorn and Gandalf were walking, bringing a smile to their faces as well.
"What's yellow and dangerous?"
"Don't know. What is yellow and dangerous?"
By now Pippin was being carried by Boromir, so that the young hobbit didn't have to try to walk, giggle hysterically and breathe all at the same time. Boromir and Merry were grinning openly, and Frodo was their next target. The elder hobbit was trying desperately to keep a straight face, under rather heavy provocation. The two jokesters had walked up to accompany him, seemingly oblivious of his company.
"What's grey and white and dangerous?"
"A statue in chain mail."
A pause followed Boromir's punchline. Then Frodo spoke up, sounding more than a little puzzled. "How is a statue in chain mail dangerous?"
"Well, you try having one fall on you!"
That brought a laugh out of the whole company, even Gandalf and Aragorn.
"I think he's winning, Merry," was Pippin's comment, once he'd recovered the breath to speak. Merry just looked up at his cousin and winked.
"Why did the squirrel fall out of the tree?" he asked.
"I've no idea," Boromir replied.
"It was dead. Why did the second squirrel fall out of the tree?"
"It was dead too?" Boromir guessed.
"Nope, it was tied to the first one. Why did the third squirrel fall out of the tree?"
"It thought everyone was doing it. Why did the fox break its neck?"
"It fell out of the tree too?"
"Nope, tripped over a pile of squirrels!"
The groan that followed that joke was heartfelt, and it was a good thing that Merry was swift and nimble on his feet, for he had the whole fellowship chasing him to mete out punishment. Even Gandalf and Legolas followed behind, laughing not only at the jokes, but also at the antics of the others in their pursuit of the young hobbit.