Tag Archives: humor

The origin of Johnny Four Fingers

6 Apr

Nicknames

By Lanny Morgnanesi

On Facebook, I saw posts listing 10 people “I’ve met,” with one being a lie. I decided to play and put up these 10.

  1. Johnny Four Fingers
  2. Frank “Two Meatballs” Ferretti
  3. Bing Bang Ciao
  4. Joey Lollipops
  5. Pauli “Rembrandt” Scungeel
  6. Spinach Face Tommy
  7. Tony Loud Cry
  8. Pasquale “Dog Shoes” Maroni
  9. Vincent Steam Breath Bug Eyes
  10. Nathan the Nickel

Then I realized the more curious readers might want to know how these men got their names. So here at NotebookM I’ve decided to provide that information.

Johnny Four Fingers – As a child, his big hands prevented him from reaching inside a soda machine to steal Cokes. So he used his father’s power saw to remedy that.

Frank “Two Meatballs” Ferretti – Always thin, his grandmother said she’d give him a quarter if he gained weight. To look heavier, he stuffed a meatball into each cheek.

Bing Bang Ciao – Upon leaving a drinking establishment, he would always bang his left fist on the bar, then bang his right, then say good night.

Joey Lollipops – He robbed a corner store but took only candy.

Pauli “Rembrandt” Scungeel – The best forger in Brooklyn.

Spinach Face Tommy – Chronic acne.

Tony Loud Cry – A rival gang caught him and threatened to cut off his testicles and shove them up his rectum. His lament was heard three blocks away.

Pasquale “Dog Shoes” Moroni – The heat went out at a cheap motel where he was staying with a hooker. He took her fake fur and fashioned it into slippers.

Vincent Steam Breath Bug Eyes – He survived a garroting, but it was not pretty.

Nathan the Nickel – He lived on Fifth Street, as opposed to Nathan the Dime, who lived on 10th.

Let me tell you a story about a man, a horse and a joke

5 Apr

The jokes of a people tell you much about the people.

A little hobby of mine is to learn of and listen to the jokes of foreign cultures. I’m proud to say that with patience, an open mind and an attention to the nuances of language, I’ve been able to laugh alongside many a hysterical foreigner.

In so many cases, it’s really about the language, which because it is not English can be used in ways that English cannot.

Chinese, for example, has so many sound-alike words that there is an entire genre of Chinese comedy called Cross Talk, where Abbott and Costello-like characters stand on stage and grossly misunderstand each other. These bits are much like “Who’s On First.”

This week, large numbers of Chinese people are cracking up not over misunderstood language but over a short video. It is of a man getting brutally kicked in the head by a horse. The humor is not in that brutality but in a message conveyed by the kick – a message that has nothing to do with animals.

Here’s the background.

In China, there is a popular idiom that translates literally to: “Pat the horse’s ass.”

When someone pats the horse’s ass, they are sucking up to the boss or flattering people to get ahead. We use the similar expression, “kissing ass” or “brown nosing.”

While many Chinese have benefited from patting the horse’s ass, there is a danger to the practice if it is too transparent. It can backfire. Most Chinese who watch their sycophantic colleague advance would prefer that they fail. No one likes as ass kisser.

In the video widely circulating among Chinese, the victim, prior to being kicked so hard and so directly, walks across the street and actually pats the horse’s ass.

The payoff for doing so is pretty damn clear.

And that’s why it is so funny to this culture that relies heavily on metaphor and symbolism. The humor is achieved without a single word.

All right now Mister and Misses America — DO YOU GET IT?

Lanny Morgnanesi

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