Chinese stand-up comedy : the old man who drinks the milk of his daughter in law directly from the breast

There is an old Chinese stand-up comedy (xiangsheng) routine -- now banned for being too risque for public performance -- that kind of relates to the topic of filial piety : An old man takes sick with a rare disease.

The doctor tells him “This is a serious illness, my friend, but we can cure it for you. There’s a special Chinese herbal medicine that will fix you right up. But there is one problem: the prescription requires that you drink milk with it.”

“Why, that’s no problem.” the old man says.

“HUMAN milk,” clarifies the doctor.

“Well, that’s no problem either. It just so happens my daughter-in-law just gave birth to a baby. I can just get some milk from her.”

“Sorry, but there’s one more requirement,” says the doctor.

“The milk has to be drunk directly from the breast, otherwise it loses its effectiveness.”

Whew. This might be a little tricky. What can he do? The old man has no choice but to directly approach the daughter-in-law with his problem. He explains his predicament to her, and she is quite understanding.

“It’s a matter of life-and-death,” she says.

“Of course I’ll help you.”

So she timidly opens up her blouse and lets the old man suck the milk. But he has barely had one mouthful when the son — who had heard that his father was ill — returns home from work early. Opening the door and seeing his young wife there with his very own father in this rather compromising situation, he is understandably pretty pissed off.

“Dad!” the son shouts, rather choked.

“What the hell are you doing?”

The father, seeing his son’s displeasure, stands up indignantly and says,

“So! I drink one mouthful of your wife’s milk and you get this upset? Have you forgotten how much of MY wife’s milk YOU drank when you were a baby?”


Picture of young girl who breastfeeds her father

The story of Pero and Cimon is Roman and is found in a book of stories about ancient life written about 30 AD. In the tale, Cimon is sentenced to death by starvation, but his daughter Pero visits him in jail and secretly breastfeeds him to save his life. She is caught by the jailers, but her act impresses jailers and they release Cimon.