Banksy’s You Told That Joke Twice

Banksy’s You Told That Joke Twice, 2000. A spray enamel and oil stick work of four policemen carrying a clown awayYou Told That Joke Twice © Banksy 2000
Joe Syer

Joe Syer, Co-Founder & Specialist[email protected]

Interested in buying or selling

Browse artworks

You Told That Joke Twice stands as a striking example of Banksy's sharp commentary on societal structures and the often-overlooked ironies within them. Created in the year 2000, this piece predates some of Banksy’s more well-known works, yet it encapsulates the essence of his critical perspective that would later define his career. Unlike the anonymity that shrouds much of his street art, this unsigned acrylic painting boldly presents its theme without the need for the artist's signature confirmation.

You Told That Joke Twice Meaning & Analysis

The artwork is executed with a combination of oil sticks, spray enamel, and acrylic paint, a medium choice that allows Banksy to blur the lines between high art and street culture. The use of acrylic, in particular, provides a vibrant and enduring quality to the colours, which stand in contrast to the sombre theme of the painting. The medium's resilience also speaks to the enduring nature of the issues Banksy addresses.

In You Told That Joke Twice, Banksy depicts a scene of four police officers overpowering a clown, a visual narrative that is as whimsical as it is disturbing. Each officer holds a limb of the entertainer, a gesture that seems to mock the concept of law enforcement itself. The clown, a figure typically associated with joy and laughter, is shown in a state of distress, highlighting the absurdity and cruelty of being punished for the trivial act of repeating a joke.

The choice of subject matter is significant. Series like Rude Coppers and Flying Coppers present police officers as archetypes that represent entertainment and authority, respectively. By juxtaposing these figures with clowns, Banksy questions the roles that these societal players are expected to fulfil and challenges the viewer to consider the underlying power dynamics that govern social order. The presence of weapons, loosely attached to the officers' uniforms, serves as a chilling reminder of the latent violence that underlies their authority.

The artwork's style is reminiscent of Banksy’s street art origins, with the use of spray paint creating a sense of immediacy and rawness. The colourful brush strokes add a layer of irony to the scene, with the vibrant palette contrasting the dark undertones of the subject. This stylistic approach is not just a hallmark of Banksy's technique but also a deliberate choice to communicate the contradictory nature of the content.

As an early work of Banksy, You Told That Joke Twice showcases the artist's burgeoning talent and sets the stage for his later works that would continue to challenge societal norms through provocative imagery. It remains a powerful piece within his oeuvre, both for its aesthetic appeal and its potent critique of the mechanisms of power.

You Told That Joke Twice: Exhibition History

Bristol, The Seven Shed Bar and Restaurant, Severnshed, February - April 2000

Reflections on Banksy's You Told That Joke Twice

The allure of Banksy's art lies not only in its aesthetic appeal but also in its ability to remain relevant. The themes of power, violence, and discipline that You Told That Joke Twice explores are as pertinent today as they were in 2000. Banksy's work continues to resonate because it reflects the persistent issues that society grapples with, making his art both a mirror and a hammer: it shows us our reality and challenges us to shape it differently.

You Told That Joke Twice stands as a testament to Banksy’s legacy as a provocateur and commentator, adept at using his art to illuminate the shadows cast by societal structures. Through this piece, Banksy not only questions the legitimacy of authority and the nature of humour but also invites the audience to reflect on the broader implications of these themes in their lives. As we continue to navigate a world rife with authority and resistance, Banksy's work remains a crucial point of reflection, challenging us to consider the value of dissent, the power of laughter, and the importance of questioning the status quo. In doing so, Banksy ensures that his art remains not just a fixture of the past but a living dialogue with the present and future, encouraging us to laugh, question, and, above all, think critically about the world around us.

Buy and sell artworks

Discover live market data against your collection

The only dedicated prints portfolio management system in the world. Add your collection to track value in real time.

Track demand on our trading floor

Track live demand in works from our artist's portfolios and view access to the works you're looking for.

What to
Invest in Now

Data-driven market commentary on what's driving growth, supply & demand in the Prints and Multiples market.