Tag Archives: jokes

Oh, Oh, Oh … Christ was a Jew!

25 Jan


A certain American president is dominating 90 percent of what we see, hear, and discuss, so I’ve decided to write about a somewhat anonymous but highly unusual person I’ll call Melvin.


Melvin was intelligent. He did his undergraduate work at MIT and was studying veterinary medicine when I roomed with him and another vet student at a large university. Melvin is difficult to describe. I like to think he was Andy Kaufman before Andy Kaufman was Andy Kaufman. His life was a performance, not on stage, just walking around. The difficulty with Melvin, like Andy, was understanding the purpose and meaning of his performances.


For example, I could hear Melvin in his room when he had women over. During climax, he would always shout, “Christ was a Jew!”


After a time, I asked why he said this. He probably was employing his distinctly odd sense of human when he answered, in complete deadpan, “What else would you possibly say?”


I always suspected he was mimicking a character from a William Burroughs novel or some equally obscure place.


As a vet student, Melvin studied much more than I did. One evening, I was in the living room of our campus townhouse entertaining two women friends. He had a test the next day and was upstairs with his books. He obviously needed a break, and he took one in performance mode.


Melvin came running down the steps, frantic, dressed in cutoff jeans, no shirt, no shocks, no shoes. It looked like he was sweating. He carried a beat up old guitar.


“I’m on in 10 minutes,” he said to the three of us in a panic, “and I can’t play a thing.”


Then he ran to a window, opened it and jumped out.


Andy Kaufman couldn’t have done better.


But the best of his bits occurred when I and our third roommate walked him to a house where he was to meet a blind date. We wanted to see what she looked like and stood nearby as he knocked on her front door. When she opened it, we could see she had an exquisite body. It was rare and perfect in every way. She was not, however, attractive. My recollection is she had a slight resemblance to Richard Nixon.


Melvin looked at her and excused himself for a moment. He walked to the street and, with a rather demonstrative gesture, threw his glasses under the wheel of a passing car. Melvin then looked at me and the other roommate and said, in a tone of old movie contempt, “So long, suckers.”


He went back to the house, went inside, and wasn’t seen again for three days.


I’m certain that by the end of the three days the young woman who looked like Nixon knew almost certainly that Christ, indeed, was a Jew.


Now isn’t that better than Donald Trump?

Donald Trump

By Lanny Morgnanesi


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

Where Will You Be Six Months from Now?

19 May


The late comedian Henny Youngman used to tell lots of jokes about doctors. A favorite is:

My doctor told me I had six months to live. I said, “Doctor, I can’t pay you.” He gave me another six months.”

Henny Youngman — he knew!

Comedians are very exacting when choosing their words, especially in short jokes. They much prefer funny words over unfunny words and will struggle to determine if, say, 66, is funnier than 85. So I find it interesting that Henny chose “six” for the number of months his doctor gave him.

I don’t think he did it because six is funny. I think he did it because when doctors tell you death is near, they almost always put it six months away.

Not to be funny, but have you every heard of a friend or relative who was given four months to live, or seven months to live, or 10 months? I never have.

All this comes to mind because someone I know was given six months to live. Sure enough, exactly six months later he was dead.

Did the doctor really know? Or was he just lucky?

In life, we all have to make quick judgments and guesses. In the field of finance there is a joke (funny only to people in finance) that goes:

Q. Why do economists use decimal points?

A. Because they have a sense of humor.

The point being that nobody really knows anything for sure, but all of us sure can fake it. Those who get it right probably get more credit than they deserve, like maybe Steve Jobs or some military strategists.

Lucky guess?

But we’ve all got to worship earthly gods and I imagine it is more appropriate to worship those who have guessed right than to worship those who have guessed wrong. So hats off to the doc who said “six months” to my friend.

I’ll leave you with this piece of advice:

If your doctor says you have just 10 minutes to live, do everything you can to assure him that his wife and you are just good friends.

Thanks, Henny.

Sticks, stones and free speech

10 Feb

Hateful or merely unfunny?

I’ve noticed that more and more celebrities, politicians, broadcasters and sports figures are saying things that offend people. Reporting gaffs, if they are indeed that, has become its own news genre.

What people say rarely offends me. I’m an advocate of free speech. And I like to hear what people really think. Don’t others feel this way? It is difficult for me to believe that, say, a Jew, would prefer an anti-Semitic congressman keep quiet and never be found out, rather than speak honestly and reveal himself.

Do those who complain about people like Roland Martin think Roland Martin would be a different person if he didn’t say what he said?

I once found myself among a large group of traveling North Koreans. They didn’t say a word, didn’t crack a facial expression, didn’t show they were human. Fear encapsulated them. I’d much rather be around a bigot than an automaton. I’m hoping the current tendency to castigate offensive utterances doesn’t turn Americans into North Koreans.

Can’t we just ignore celebrity offenders? That’s severe punishment, since these are people who can’t seem to live without attention.

There once was a politician in my town who probably was a good fellow at heart. He liked to make jokes and never worried about offending people. He thought himself a scream. He held a high county office and once had to deal with a small riot in a Hispanic neighborhood.

He was unable to play it straight.

During a public meting he said this: “We could have avoided the problem if someone had just put up a taco stand.”

He was roundly criticized.

At the next meeting, he took the podium to apologize, even though he was not the kind of man to do so.

“I was completely wrong,” he told his audience. “It’s the Mexicans who like tacos. The people who rioted were Puerto Ricans.”

And he belly laughed.

Was this man a racist or simply a failed comedian?

To me he was someone who refused to hide himself. If I chose to, I could have run from him, knowing more about him than I knew about most people.

He lost the next election, retired and died. Roland Martin, on the other hand, probably has followers on social media than ever before.

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