Robespierre walks into his new office, once the Queen's parlour: "So this is where she powdered her cheeks?" he remarks. A fellow revolutionary replies: "All four of them!" and they all collapse in raucous laughter. Kenneth Williams would have been proud.

Can you please explain to me the point of this joke. What is it meant by the reply "All four of them"? Is there some sexual connotation contained? I am not able to figure it out.

  • 1
    How many cheeks do you have? 2 on your face and 2 around waist height... – JMB Jul 30 '15 at 11:00
  • (I will happily explain further if you don't understand my comment.) – JMB Jul 30 '15 at 11:06
  • 1
    Such base humour is commonplace in the Kenneth Williams brand of comedy. – JMB Jul 30 '15 at 12:36
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    The gluteus maximus is a "butt cheek". Even on a skinny person. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 30 '15 at 14:58
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    I don't agree with the close reason. Sure, you can find many obscure meanings by looking 'em up in a dictionary. How is a learner supposed to find the hidden meaning intended in a joke in the sea of different meanings for cheek in the dictionary? – M.A.R. Jul 30 '15 at 18:33

I see two meanings here, a higher brow and a lower brow variant on the joke. The first is the sexual connotations discussed in the comments to your post: of two extra cheeks and showing her self off. At first I thought this was the only meaning, until I though of the phrase "two faced"1.

Twice as many faces, twice as many cheeks (you do the math!) I feel as though the higher brow one like this is much more likely to be the true meaning, judging from the (apparently) sophisticated context. I did google this to find some kind of evidence to back up my thoughts, but only came across a TV program review and this question again.

To surmise, I think that the joke means that she's two faced, but it's ambiguous.

1Two faced is defined as a person being deceptive or sly, quite possibly ready to betray people. From Google:

"insincere and deceitful."

Some synonyms, too:

deceitful, insincere, double-dealing, hypocritical, back-stabbing, false, untrustworthy, duplicitous, Janus-faced, deceiving, dissembling, dishonest; More

  • I think this is an interesting interpretation, although you might explain what "two-faced" means to save learners a dictionary look up. – ColleenV Jul 30 '15 at 20:14
  • @ColleenV Great idea! I hadn't even thought of that, so thanks! Edited now. – HarryCBurn Jul 30 '15 at 20:19

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