Just thought I’d get that one in before Jay Leno or David Letterman beat me to it.
I know. It’s a subject that needs to be taken seriously. But I believe, like the late George Carlin, there’s no subject that can’t use humor. It’s a means of relief and healing. Laughter is good for the soul, as the old saying goes.
Shortly after 9/11, comedians knew they needed to go back to work and the nation needed to laugh again. However, the comedians didn’t know what was appropriate to joke about. They weren’t sure if their jokes would make people laugh and feel better or offend them.
My all-time favorite comedians are both gone now, Carlin and Rodney Dangerfield. Remember, Rodney was the guy who never got respect. His delivery made his material even better, because he was always sweating and looking uncomfortable on stage.
Comedy has always gotten America through bad times. The Great Depression had Will Rogers. Much of his material is still timely today. I always liked the one where a reporter asked Rogers if he was a member of an organized political party.
“No,” Rogers replied. “I’m a Democrat.”
World War II had Bob Hope, Jack Benny and Abbott and Costello.
In fact, Hope took his show to several wars. His comedy and entertainment kept up the morale for decades of combat troops.
Jack Benny had two famous lines he kept going throughout his career. One was about his stinginess. In one radio show episode, a robber stopped him on the street and demanded, “Your money or your life.”
After Benny failed to respond, the impatient robber, said, “Come on, your money or your life.”
Benny replied, “Hold on, I’m thinking about it.”
His other continuing joke was about his age. He always said he was 39, many years after he passed that age.
Abbott and Costello were famous for their quick, back-and-forth jabs, the best known of which was the “Who’s on First?” routine.
The best all-time spontaneous humorist was Groucho Marx. He had a TV quiz show, “You Bet Your Life.” As quiz shows go, it was not that exciting and the prizes were paltry, even compared to other quiz shows of that day. However, the real entertainment was Marx’s snappy comebacks to the guests during the conversations before the quiz. The shows were obviously not rehearsed and Marx often got the jokes turned back on him.
Malapropism is one my favorite forms of humor. That’s the misuse of a word by confusing it with another word that sounds similar. Life is just full of good malaprops. Once, when I was working in a stereo shop, a customer brought in a speaker and said it wasn’t working right. “It has too much extortion,” he said. Then there’s always the people who want to renew their prescription to the newspaper or go to the pharmacist to get their subscription filled.
Medical terms are good ones for malaprops. I often hear people talk about “prostrate cancer.” I ask them if you get it from lying on your back.
By far, though, puns are my favorite form of humor. I’ve never met anyone who makes a living with words who doesn’t appreciate puns. I love puns so much that I often dream about them.
When I adopted my rescue dog, Joy, I knew I’d hit the pun jackpot. I thanked Joy’s foster mother and told her, “You’ve put Joy in my life.” When I bought my Kia Soul, I could tell everybody, “I have Joy in my Soul today.”
And as a parting shot, there was once a court jester who made so many bad puns that the king told him, “One more pun and it’s off with your head. Now get out of here.”
The jester couldn’t resist, as a good punster never can.
“Great,” he said. “O-pun the door.”
Jones is a reporter for the Times-Georgian.