On Humor, Part 1

Recently, I wrote for The Catholic Weekly:

I think I have a pretty good sense of humour.  My wife tends to disagree.  I have a weakness for really dumb gags.  I mean really dumb.  The dumber the better.  Dumb as in this and this, and especially this. My wife is a very patient woman.  Also, that last link will never not be funny.

Of course, dumb humour is not my only jam when it comes to humour. I love puns which, contrary to popular opinion, are not the lowest form of humour, but are extremely high.  Shakespeare, the greatest writer in our language, loved them too and littered his plays with them.

So, by the way, did our Lord Jesus Christ.  That’s why our first Pope was punningly renamed “Peter” (Rock) and told that upon this Rock Jesus would build his Church.  Puns are language at play and are often breathtakingly ingenious, which is their great pleasure.  They are linguistic acrobatics and, when two or more punsters are gathered together, linguistic swordplay or dance is in the midst of them.  I will love them till the day I die, unless I am killed while making Easter eggs, in which case I will love them till the day I dye.

Much more here, if you can endure it.


9 Responses

  1. My two favorite examples of humor in the Bible:
    1) Numbers 12. Moses had married an African woman, and Miriam criticized him for it. God punished Miriam for this by giving her a skin disease that made her extremely white. Irony!
    2) Jonah. The whole story. A Jewish friend once told me that many Jews believe that story was written as comedy. Once I looked at it that way it seemed obviously true.

    1. Ever read the Book of Tobit? It’s hilarious. Every time I read it, I think it would make a great Mel Brooks movie.

      1. Oh that’s a good one.

        God: “go marry yourself a big whore, Tobit.”

        Tobit: “I’m going to go find me a big whore to please you God.”

        God: “Now you’re going to know how *I* feel Tobit.”

        Tobit: “Oh my God, God, this is not as fun as
        I thought it would be, this whore is such a whore–a total piece of work!”

        God: “Tell me about it! Now go tell Israel what it feels like to be married to a big ‘ole whore! When you’re done, say, ‘guess what you two-timers–You’re all big whores, and Tobit is going to fill you in on what being married to a whore (you) feels like.

      2. You are thinking of Hosea. Tobit is the one with the sex demon and the fish-oil exorcism.

    2. I’ve always laughed when I read the story of Esau and Jacob’s mother Rebecca disguising her favorite son –to seem like he was her hairy son for their blind father. And that blessing–it went out from him, and then the blessing tank was empty –so hairy Esau (with the impulse problems when it comes to food) is like “Daaaaaad! You didn’t!”

      We never failed to giggle at mass when the stuffy dude with a tie had to read about God being like a mother with big generous boobs.

      And then there’s the beautiful Susanna who hasn’t in any way deterred her suitors.

      That scene where the priests of Moloch are getting desperate, and the priest of God starts to snigger at them and make “suggestions” for getting their magic to work.

      Oh, –and being turned into a pillar of salt by God if your curiosity gets the best of you and you turn around to watch the smiting.

  2. “You are thinking of Hosea. Tobit is the one with the sex demon and the fish-oil exorcism.”

    Correct! Tobit is (partly) about the young lady who can’t get married. Every time she does, she and the groom go up for the wedding night, and a demon kills the groom before they can consummate the marriage. Tobias comes along to save the day, but the bride’s father Raguel isn’t so convinced. Still, he’ll take the opportunity, so he blesses the wedding, sees the young couple off to their nightly repose, then tells the young lady’s brothers: “Quick! Dig the grave!” Then the next morning, he tells his wife, “Go check and see if the poor schmuck made it. Maybe we can have him buried before the neighbors find out!” Turns out Tobias is fine, so Raguel changes course again. “Quick! Get that grave filled up before the neighbors see it!”

    I am, of course, paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of it. It is quite funny, and every time I read it, I picture Mel Brooks as the bride’s father and Tobias as a young Gene Wilder.

  3. There’s also a dick joke in the Bible. I Kings 12: Shortly after Solomon died and Rehoboam became King, a delegation of the people went to the new King and asked him to scale back his father’s building projects and taxes (“lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke upon us.”) Rehoboam refused, saying “My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins.”
    OK, not a very good dick joke, but still noteworthy for its antiquity.

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