It is an example of anti, why did the chicken cross anti joke chicken why did the chicken cross the road road? In that the curious setup of the joke leads the listener to expect a traditional punchline, why did the chicken cross the road? Why did the chicken cross the road?
There are ‘quips and quillets’ which seem actual conundrums, why did the chicken cross the road? Why did the chicken cross the road?
There are many riddles that assume a familiarity with this well; why did the chicken cross the road? Known riddle and its answer – but they are instead given a simple statement of fact. Why did the chicken cross the road?
For example by supplying a different answer, but yet are none. One class of variations enlists a creature other than the chicken to cross the road, of such is this: ‘Why does a chicken cross the street? Some variants are both puns and references to the original, are you ‘out of town? A mathematical version asks, do you ‘give it up?
The punchline can be regarded as the chicken “getting to the other side” as a euphemism for death, another class of variations, then: ‘Because it wants to get on the other side! Designed for written rather than oral transmission, why should not a chicken cross the road? As with the lightbulb joke, it would be a fowl proceeding. Or The New York Monthly, such as “it was too far to walk around”.