Learn English – Where is the word play in this dialog


I'm trying to figure out the word play behind this dialog (it is taken from A Bit of Fry and Laurie show – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaqZpcPEZEY):

  • Good morning.
  • Right. Can I help you?
  • Yes, your face, my arse.
  • No, I said, "Can I help you? "
  • Oh, I see. Yes, I'd like some information, please.

I've tried to google it and have found a similar slang "answer" for "Do you have a match?" question. I understand that it that case word play comes from the fact that "match" has two meanings to it.

But it seems that "Can I help you?" has only one meaning to it – where does "Yes, your face, my arse." come from?

Best Answer

Speaker A asks "Can I help you?" and gets the answer from speaker B "Yes, your face, my arse."

This is the joke answer to an entirely different question, namely "Do you have a match?"

Speaker A concludes that Speaker B has misheard "Can I help you?" for "Do you have a match?" so Speaker A clarifies his question by repeating it.

Speaker B admits his mishearing by saying "Oh, I see" and proceeds to respond reasonably to the Speaker A's question offering help.

The joke (such as it is) is that nobody would mistake "Can I help you?" for "Do you have a match?" but both parties proceed to act as if that were a perfectly natural thing to happen.