Have we Lost our Sense of Humor?


Have we Lost our Sense of Humor?

Jerry Seinfeld has decided to no longer take his standup show to college campuses. “ “I don’t play colleges, but I hear a lot of people tell me, ‘Don’t go near colleges. They’re so PC,’” he said. “They just want to use these words: ‘That’s racist;’ ‘That’s sexist;’ ‘That’s prejudice,’” he continued. “They don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.”

Consider this:

I bet you thought that the Pythagorean Theorem (Look it up) came from a Greek who thought it up when he was looking at a design inlaid on the floor of his patio. You would be WRONG!

It seems that in olden times the Indigenous People had unique customs, one of which dealt with certain privileges due to the Chief. This Chief was a great leader and took advantage of one of privileges to have multiple wives. He had three, two were younger and the third, a tad older, was his favorite.

As luck would have it, the three became pregnant at about the same time. Tradition held that the father of the children should prepare a fresh hide on which the baby would be born. For the younger wives, he picked buffalo and prepared a soft buffalo skin to receive the babies. However he wanted something special for his favorite wife. He sent away to Africa and ordered a particular hide to receive her baby.

Months passed and all was prepared for the births. The two younger wives had bouncing, beautiful baby boys, but the favorite had twins. Which proves – wait for it – here it comes

The Sons of the squaws on the two hides equals the sons of the squaw on the hippopotamus.

I know I will be criticized far and wide for making fun of indigenous people, Greeks, Chiefs, wives, babies, buffaloes, and the odd hippo. I tell this story because I feel we are losing our sense of humor. Back in the day of yore, jokes were told and often they were at the expense of someone, or at the expense of one group or others. The Irish usually got stories about hard drinking, the Italians, maybe about their large families and its matriarchal structure, the English about their ‘stiff upper lips’, the Southerners about their diets, accents, and pickup trucks, and of course Jews, often about their views on life and its realities. There were jokes about Scots (frugality), sailors (cursing and hard drinking), Poles (pierogi and pollocks) and practically any culture or group.

The great comedians of another time, Bob Hope, Henny Youngman, Johnny Carson, Mel Brooks, Woody Allan, Joan Rivers, Sid Caesar, Eddie Murphy, Rodney Dangerfield, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Grocho Marks, Lenny Bruce, Chris Rock, Jack Benny, Don Rickles, Richard Prior, Jackie Mason, Burns and Allen, Redd Foxx and you know the rest, told stories, some self-deprecating, often about some of the groups listed above, but always without rancor. They were funny because of their timing, their sense of self, and that they were there to entertain, not demean. And most all were nonpolitical. Or if they were political, they cut both ways. No politician would be above their humor.

My fear is that we have lost our sense of humor. We have lost our sense of irony. When I fall on my face when walking a dog and look like I went 15 rounds with Mohommed Ali, is it better to tell the truth or to tell a joke about “The other guy.”  We hear something and we immediately take offense. A black comedian tells a story about a white guy, and I’m appalled. How dare he? My position – Get over it. Its time to start laughing at ourselves again.

A minister, priest, and a rabbi were discussing when life begins. The minister said “Life begins when the fetus is viable,” the priest said “life begins at the moment of conception,” the rabbi said “Life begins when the kids leave home and the dog dies.”

Seinfeld adds: “My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and it’s the law.”


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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