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The Secret of Poultry

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One of my favorite last lines of any poem EVER is from "The Secret of Poetry" by my friend and beloved teacher Jon Anderson. I wrote about him and this poem after his death a few years ago. Please read the poem if not the stuff I wrote about Jon at the beginning of the entry. It's a great poem, and it culminates with the devastating line "The secret of poetry is cruelty."

This is important because for many reasons, one of which is that whenever I read about chicken producers like Tyson, I can't help but think of a really bad line I came up with a decade or two ago: "The secret of poultry is cruelty."

It's not at all funny, because it's true: those chickens suffer cruelly.

But on the other hand, the fact that it's true is EXACTLY why it's funny.

Isn't humor strange. Isn't it just about the weirdest thing we ever invented, except maybe religion or lutefisk.

The Best Scholarly Article You Might Ever Read

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Long about 1992, back when I actually read most of the print magazines I subscribed to, I came across an excerpt in Harper's of an essay printed in the Journal of Medical Ethics entitled "A proposal to classify happiness as a psychiatric disorder" by Richard P. Bentall of Liverpool University. I was so intrigued by the excerpt that when I went to Iowa, I schlepped my book bag over to the medical library, tracked down the relevant volume of the journal, photocopied the article, then read and highlighted it.

I still have my 18-year-old photo, and recently told a friend I'd make her a copy of her own. Today it occurred to me to see if it was available online. Turns out it is. Here's the abstract:

Luxury! Paradise! Spam!

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A day or two before Christmas, my dad and brother stood looking at a Christmas tree and began talking about how complicated it was to make sure a string of the old-fashioned lights, with large individual bulbs, worked, and how annoying it was to have to find a bad bulb that made that the whole string go out. Life was much easier these days, now that Christmas lights come with the lights all affixed to the wires and take decades if not centuries to wear out, though they're not perfect since the quality of LED lights isn't as warm.

I couldn't help it; I did my best impression of a Yorkshire accent (which I readily admit was pretty awful) and interjected, "Luxury! Decorating a Christmas tree with lights already strung on wires. When we were young, we had to set the tree on fire to make it light up!"

They turned to look at me like they suspected me of producing an unpleasant smell.

"Sorry," I said. "I know it's dumb. It just reminded me of that old 'Four Yorkshiremen' skit."

"What?" my brother asked.

"It's John Cleese and Marty Feldman and a couple of other guys from Monty Python talking about how awful things were in the olden days," I said. "How they had to live in a lake and lick the road clean every morning before going to work. You know it, right, Dad?"

"Never heard of it," he said.

Which of course required me to interrupt one of my nephews at the computer, so I could find the video on YouTube and make everyone watch it.

Why You Should Be My Facebook Friend

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If you know my real name, even if I don't know yours, and you're on Facebook, you should friend me. Why? Main reason: I'm funny there. The interplay of personalities gives me many opportunities to crack jokes, some of which are pretty darn good.

Here, for example, is a video posted yesterday by my FBF Peter, and the exchange it prompted:

My first comment:

I wonder if the guy helped himself climb by singing songs by that one gay piano dude Stevie Wonder? Wait--I mean blind piano dude.

Seriously: how does anyone tell gay people and blind people apart? I haven't figured out a foolproof system. I mean, ANYONE could be gay. Unless they tell you themselves, or you find out from others they've slept with and stuff, it's not like you just KNOW. And the blind people I've known personally were pretty much regular people too.

It's like that gay poet John Milton said: "The mind is its own place, and in itself/ Can make a gay person blind, and a blind person gay."

Stuff to Look At

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1. OK, what's really amazing to me about this ad is that someone honestly thinks women could peel their eyes off this guy....

Pretty damn clever, as far as I'm concerned. It almost makes me want to smell like Old Spice myself.

2. I have to thank Facebook for this--it suggested I become a fan of Unhappy Hipsters, and I certainly have. It both amuses me and lets me feel superior to the people whose lives it mocks, even though they have way more money than I ever will. I especially liked this recent entry about kids made surly by being forced to watch a documentary on Bauhaus.

We'll Go to Wal-Mart

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from Boymongoose, for your viewing pleasure


Everybody Sing That Last Line

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A friend posted this on Facebook, and I reposted it there, but I have to share it here. It's SUBLIME. It's PERFECT, one of the best things western civilization has ever produced. We should beam it into outerspace along with a statement affirming that this is one of the finest, most complete representations of our culture.

I mean, it's really funny, so funny that I have to start watching "Extras," the show the clip came from. And will you check out Mr. Bowie!?!!! The man will be 63 on January 8, 2010, and look at him! He's still gorgeous! He still has a fantastic voice and what looks like his own hair! I have long believed that he is the coolest person the 20th century managed to produce, and this reconfirms my opinion. He was Ziggy Stardust, and the Thin White Duke, and the freaky guy in Labyrinth, and he provided the voice for a character based on him on Spongebob, and now he does this! Is it any wonder I worship him? I think it must be completely awesome to be him, and to know him.

Anyway. If you haven't already seen it, watch it. Enjoy. I bet you'll watch it twice, and post it to YOUR facebook page too.

It's Funny Because It Isn't True, But Could Be

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The God Off

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You have GOT to watch "the god-off" on The Colbert Report from Tuesday, October 21. It starts at about 9 minutes. "the Word" section before it ("Fantasyland" is the word) is pretty damn great, but given that I've written about God getting his ass kicked, it's the "god-off" that really caught my attention.

Palin on Biden

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