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It's from the 11th episode of the 10th season of Friends. Here is the context:

Roy: What's the matter? You never saw a 50 year old stripper cry before?

Phoebe: You know, it's fine. We'll pay you.

Roy: No, no, you're right. Who am I kidding? I should have hung up that breakaway jockstrap years ago. What am I gonna do? I mean, this has been my life for thirty two years. Taking my clothes off in front of people is all I know.

I am sure that's some kind of joke. I can't seem to get it.

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  • Have you searched these terms? Given the surrounding context about strippers, the meaning should become obvious. Note that depending on search engine settings and local jurisdiction, the results may constitute pornography.
    – TypeIA
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 10:03
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    Yes, I have. I know what the jockstrap is. And I know what "breakaway" means. I cannot get what "breakaway jockstrap" means Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 11:06
  • My comment keeps getting deleted: this is only for a male stripper. A female stripper would use a breakaway thong. It just means you pull it and it comes off. As I tried to say several times, women wear thongs, not jockstraps. I see nothing untoward about that. There are many more female strippers in the world than male strippers, which makes the whole thing even funnier.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 30, 2021 at 15:28

2 Answers 2

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A breakaway jockstrap would be one designed to break away (i.e., to come off when pulled, as opposed to one that must be slid down the legs and around the feet). It's not hard to imagine how this might be useful to a stripper.

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The other element of the joke is that "hang up the (object)" is a well-known stock phrase for "retire from (activity)", where (object) is some standard tool of that work.

So a boxer might "hang up the gloves" when he retires, but a rodeo rider would "hang up the spurs". A musician might "hang up her guitar" when she leaves the band, but a Wall Street financial trader would "hang up his briefcase" (or his 3-piece suit) when he retires from that line of work.

It's absurd and humorous to hear that the standard "tool" of the trade for a male stripper is a "breakaway jockstrap", especially when its delivered in such a deadpan manner by the character in the above exchange.

One more aspect that makes the full scene funny is that the male stripper delivering the line is played by Danny Devito, who is middle aged, short, and stocky; far from the traditional build for a male stripper.

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  • Well done. This answer makes two useful points.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 30, 2021 at 15:29

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