Thursday, October 15, 2009

Some of my favorite jokes

by Richard L. Weaver II

“This woman rushed to see her doctor, looking very much worried and all strung out. She rattles off: ‘Doctor, take a look at me. When I woke up this morning, I looked at myself in the mirror and saw my hair all wiry and frazzled up, my skin was all wrinkled and pasty, my eyes were bloodshot and bugging out, and I had this corpse-like look on my face! What's WRONG with me, Doctor!?

The doctor looks her over for a couple of minutes, then calmly says: ‘Well, I can tell you that there ain't nothing wrong with your eyesight....’

This is not a new joke, but it is one of my favorites, and based on a survey several years ago, it was the top joke in Australia.

Often there is no logical explanation for why a joke strikes me as funny. For example, look at this joke, and you will quickly see what I mean: “An Alsatian went to a telegram office, took out a blank form and wrote, ‘Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof.’

The clerk examined the paper and politely told the dog: ‘There are only nine words here. You could send another ‘Woof’ for the same price.’

‘But,’ the dog replied, ‘that would make no sense at all.’”

Sometimes what attracts me to a joke is that a scientist or a philosopher is being quoted as in this joke: “A scientist and a philosopher were being chased by a hungry lion. The scientist made some quick calculations, and he said, ‘it's no good trying to outrun it, it’s catching up.’

The philosopher kept a little ahead and replied ‘I’m not trying to outrun the lion, I’m trying to outrun you !’”

What drew my attention to the following joke was not just the fact that two professors were talking, but it was the fact that it takes several readings to get the joke — especially for a person who has an educated background. Why? Because he or she is trying to read into it or see something that, indeed, isn’t there: “A history professor and a psychology professor are sitting outside at a nudist colony. History professor: ‘Have you read Marx?’ Psychology professor: ‘Yes. I think it’s from the wicker chairs.’” It took me a minimum of three readings before I finally got the joke! (Oh, I know I’m dense. Don’t judge me!)

In addition to jokes that are complex at first reading, I also find jokes that use a play on words interesting. One I found particularly amusing was the following: “A man’s running his eye over a menu in a restaurant when his attractive waitress asks him what he’d fancy. ‘A quickie, please’ ‘Sir,’ she says, ‘I’ll ask you one more time, is there anything that takes your fancy?’ ‘Yes,’ says the man again. ‘A quickie.’ Outraged, she slaps him across the face and storms back across the restaurant in a huff. ‘Mate,’ says the guy at the next table, ‘it’s pronounced ‘quiche.’’”

Maybe it’s because I have a lawyer as a close friend, but I am consistently drawn to lawyer jokes. This one requires more than average understanding of a lawyer’s responsibilities. “A lawyer dies and goes to Heaven. ‘There must be some mistake,’ the lawyer argues. ‘I’m too young to die. I’m only fifty five.’ ‘Fifty five?’ says Saint Peter. ‘No, according to our calculations, you’re eighty two.’ ‘How’d you get that?’ the lawyer asks. Answers St. Peter: ‘We added up your time sheets.’”

Ellen Degeneres told this joke, and I like it simply because it shifts ground on you unexpectedly, and the surprise factor is wonderful: “Stuffed deer heads on walls are bad enough, but it’s worse when you see them wearing dark glasses, having streamers around their necks, and a hat on their antlers. Because then you know they were enjoying themselves at a party when they were shot.” Normally I don’t like “stupid” jokes, but the surprise factor outweighed its stupidity.

The surprise factor also applies to the following joke: “Two campers are hiking in the woods when one is bitten on the rear end by a rattlesnake. ‘I’ll go into town for a doctor,’ the other says. He runs ten miles to a small town and finds the town’s only doctor, who is delivering a baby. ‘I can’t leave,’ the doctor says. ‘But here’s what to do. Take a knife, cut a little X where the bite is, suck out the poison and spit it on the ground.’ The guy runs back to his friend, who is in agony. ‘What did the doctor say?’ the victim asks. ‘He says you’re gonna die.’”

There are not many one-liners that I find more than merely amusing, and this one fits that bill precisely, but it asks a little of the reader as well: “I bought a box of animal crackers and it said on it ‘Do not eat if seal is broken.’ So I opened up the box, and sure enough…”

What tickled me about the following joke is that it reminded me of something I might do. Passing a construction site where there is a hole in the stockade fence, I will inevitably look in: “A guy is walking past a big wooden fence at the insane asylum and he hears all the residents inside chanting, ‘Thirteen! Thirteen! Thirteen!’ Quite curious about this, he finds a hole in the fence, and looks in. Someone inside pokes him in the eye. Then everyone inside the asylum starts chanting, "Fourteen! Fourteen! Fourteen!’”

As a workaholic throughout my life, you will quickly see why the following joke appealed to me: “A lawyer, an accountant and a physicist are discussing, over a beer, whether life is better with a wife or with a girlfriend. ‘A wife is better,’ declares the lawyer, ‘because of the family support and the help she'll be to your career.’ ‘Nonsense,’ says the accountant. ‘A girlfriend is better: you can keep your independence and go out with your friends more.’ They turn to the physicist, who says, ‘It's better to have both. That way, the wife thinks you're with the girlfriend, the girlfriend thinks you're with the wife, and meanwhile you can be down at the lab!’”

As a former pre-med major and college professor, I found the following joke particularly relevant for both reasons: “A college physics professor was explaining a particularly complicated concept to his class when a pre-med student interrupted him. ‘Why do we have to learn this stuff?’ the frustrated student blurted out. ‘To save lives,’ the professor responded before continuing the lecture. A few minutes later the student spoke up again. ‘So, how does physics save lives?’ The professor stared at the student without saying a word. ‘Physics saves lives,’ he finally continued, ‘because it keeps the idiots out of medical school.’”

I have had to exclude a number of jokes because of their length or content, but these (in this essay) represent a number of the categories that appeal. I listen to comedians, read joke books, and receive a large number of jokes by e-mail message. These are some favorites, and I’ll end on one that may well suit readers of this essay: “A pessimist says the glass is half empty. An optimist says the glass is half full. An engineer says, ‘Why all the wasted space?’” “Come on,” I say, “Get a life!”

The book, How to be funny on purpose: Creating and consuming humor, by Dr. Edgar Willis, is a rare treat for a number of reasons. 1) It offers a delightful history of humor in the media, 2) It carefully, and with numerous examples, dissects and analyzes the way jokes are constructed, 3) It provides specific instructions on how to construct jokes, and 4) Along the way (throughout the book) he offers examples designed to illustrate, educate, and amuse. This is a sophisticated book designed for those who want a serious examination of humor.

At the website HumorPower, the essay by John Kinde, “Developing Original Humor for Your Talk: Most humor in the real-world setting is unplanned. It just happens,” provides a number of suggestions for developing humor that are realistic and useful.


Copyright October, 2009 - And Then Some Publishing L.L.C.

1 comment:

  1. Any situation no matter how dark or grim can be lightened with just the right sprinkling of humor!


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