Monday, June 12, 2017

Incorrectitude: Caricature Humor

     Back when, we thought nothing of humor that caricatures observable group characteristics. The group might be men, women, the elderly, an occupational group, a race, a religion, or some ethnic group. It didn’t matter as long as the joke was genuinely funny.

     But what makes a joke “funny” varies from one listener to the next. In the case of caricature humor, it had to accord with the general perception of the characteristic at the center of the joke – and back when, we generally didn’t blush at noticing such things and remarking on them, funnily or otherwise. It was understood that we loved the people who were the butts of those jokes, meant them no harm, and wouldn’t have them any other way.

     As I’m feeling particularly in-your-face today, have a few old caricature jests of the sort Americans – including the Americans whose groups were being lampooned – enjoyed in those older and far more innocent times.


1. “Wild women.”

     The grizzled old hobo had chopped his quota of firewood and the kind lady who was his benefactress had admitted him to her kitchen for his meal. While the old mendicant stuffed himself on her offerings, she plied him with an endless series of questions. Though it tried him mightily, he did his best to eat and respond simultaneously.

     When he’d all but emptied his plates, she asked him, “And what was your occupation before you fell into your present plight, my man?”

     “I was a sailor, ma’am,” the hobo said between mouthfuls.

     “Oh, a sailor! Well, you must have had some exciting adventures!”

     “Yes, ma’am, I surely did. Why, once I was shipwrecked on the coast of Africa, and while making my way back I came upon a tribe of wild women who had no tongues.”

     “Good heavens!” his hostess exclaimed. “How could they talk, then?”

     “They couldn’t, ma’am,” the old hobo said as he grabbed the last slice of bread with one hand and reached for his hat with the other. “That’s what made them wild.”


2. Expertise is where you find it.

     “Some time ago,” the socialite said, “I had a Negro cook named Beulah whose compositions were the envy of our neighborhood. One evening when I was entertaining some friends at dinner, one of them remarked on the fancy frills Beulah had put on the crust of her apple pie and asked how it was done. So I called Beulah to the table and asked for her secret.

     “Beulah curtsied and said, ‘Ah tried every fork in yo' kitchen and ah still couldn’t get it the way ah wanted it, so ah jes took out mah false teeth and did the job right propah!’”


3. Affairs of the heart.

     Mistress was very stern toward Hilda, her Swedish milkmaid. “Hilda,” she said, “I saw the milkman kissing you this morning. In the future, I’ll bring the milk in.”

     Hilda, however, was not disturbed, “Vel, it ain’t no use, by yiminy, because he promised to kiss no one but me!”


4. Yankee thrift.

     As is well known to students of American history, upon learning that President Harding had passed away, Vice President Calvin Coolidge was sworn into the presidency by his father, a justice of the peace. A famous oil painting shows the ceremony taking place over a kerosene lamp.

     Some years later, the Sons of the Revolution, having decided that the lamp was an important historical item that deserved to be on display in their collection, asked President Coolidge for the lamp.

     “Can’t do it,” the president replied. “It’s still a pretty good lamp.”


5. A mistake in indoor couture.

     A London hunter who employed a Scotsman as his guide made the fellow a present of a handsome fur cap, the sort with heavy ear flaps for extra protection from the cold. The guide was most appreciative and donned the cap at once to show it.

     On his next visit to the lodge at which they regularly met, the hunter asked the old Scot how he liked the cap and whether he’d gotten a lot of use from it. “I hae not wore it since the accident,” came the gloomy reply.

     The hunter was dismayed. “What accident?”

     “Jock MacLeod offered to buy me a drink,” the old Scot said with a sigh, “ and I didna hear him.”


6. Waste should always be deplored.

     A woman who lived on the second floor of her apartment building was straining to wash the outside surface of a window. In her zeal to reach every corner of the thing, she leaned too far out the window, lost her purchase on the sill, and fell into the garbage can situated just below it. This greatly startled the old Chinaman who was passing by at that moment.

     The old Chinese jumped back, surveyed the situation, collected himself, and continued on, muttering, “Amellicans velly wasteful. Woman good for ten years yet.”


7. Resolving to live dangerously.

     An elderly man with a beautiful young girl on his arm arrived at the doctor’s office, announced that their next stop was at the marriage license office, and asked for a blood test. The doctor, noting the difference in their ages, decided to inquire further. “How old are the two of you?”

     “I’m 87,” the old gentleman said. “She’s 17.”

     The doctor was shocked. Suspecting something other than romance was afoot, he decided to counsel the groom-to-be. “Sir,” he said in his most carefully controlled, we’re-all-men-of-science-here tone, “though I’m moved to...congratulate you, I must warn you: that much of a difference in your ages could be fatal.”

     The old gentleman appeared shaken. He looked off into a corner for a moment, then shrugged and said, “Oh, well. If she dies, she dies.”


8. Union rules.

     One day, while at work in the mill, a fellow who had the reputation of being “not all there” was inattentive and got his thumb too close to the saw, severing it all but for a few shreds of flesh. He was at once rushed to the doctor, who, while treating him, tried a jape: “Since you cut your thumb almost all the way off, why didn’t you finish it and do a good clean job?”

     “Waaal,” the fellow replied, “that’s as far as I got when the whistle blew.”


9. All he could take.

     After many angry words, he rose from his chair and exclaimed, “This has gone on long enough! I’m going right out of your life!”

     She, appalled at this unexpected turn in their quarrel, replied “No! Henry darling, where are you going?”

     “Where I’ll never trouble you again,” Henry said as he donned his hat and coat. “Far from here, where wild adventure will blot out the memories of this moment. Perhaps the heights of the Himalayas...or the jungles of Africa...or out on the stormy seas...” And with that he yanked open the door, exited, and slammed it behind him.

     She stood paralyzed, unable to believe what had occurred. But a moment later the door opened again and he re-entered their home. He doffed his hat and coat, glared at her, and said, “It’s lucky for you that it’s raining!”


10. Decorum matters.

     Illinois Central Railroad depot manager Halloran was at his office desk one Friday morning when someone came through the door unheralded and without knocking. He looked up to find a burly Irish track worker looming over him.

     “Me name’s Casey,” the track worker said. “Oi want a pass to St. Louis. Oi worruk in th’ yards.”

     “That’s no way to ask for a pass,” Halloran said. “You should introduce yourself politely. Come back in an hour and try it again.”

     The crestfallen track worker nodded and departed. An hour later there was a diffident knock at Halloran’s office door. “Come in!”

     In came the big Irishman, cap in hand. “Excuse me, sir,” the man said, “Are yez Mister Halloran?”

     Halloran smiled and rose. “I am,” he said. “And who might you be?”

     “Me name is Patrick Casey,” the worker said, “Oi’ve been workin’ out in the yard.”

     “Well, I’m pleased to meet you, Mr. Casey,” Halloran said. “And what may I do for you?”

     Casey grinned. “Yez can go to Hell. Oi’ve a job an’ a pass on the Wabash.”


     Got any favorite politically incorrect humor to add, Gentle Reader?

3 comments:

  1. Here's one that I've always enjoyed:

    A Frenchman, an Englishman and an Irishman are all sitting down in a pub enjoying a drink. A fly buzzes along and falls into the Frenchman's drink. Immediately he calls the barman over and loudly demands a fresh pint.

    Moments later, another fly meets a similar fate in the Englishman's beverage. Instead of demanding a new drink, he simply fishes out the insect and finishes his pint.

    A short while after that, yet another fly finds it's end in the Irishman's libation. Instantly, he grabs the offending insect and in his rage, yells "Spit it out you bloody bastard!"

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  2. Once there was a Jewish fellow who lived a completely blameless life. He helped his neighbours, he gave to charity, he went to synagogue, he kept the 10 Commandments, and his only wish for himself was someday to win the lottery. So every night, after he'd finished his prayers for all his friends and family, he would pray, "And please God, let me the lottery!"

    The years went by, and finally he was old and on his deathbed, deeply disappointed that he had never won the lottery.

    So in despair he cried out, "Lord, what have I done wrong? I've lived all my life doing good and following your commandments. All I've ever asked for is to win the lottery, and yet here I am at the end of my life, and it's never happened. Lord, why have you turned against me? Why have you been deaf to my prayers?"

    And from Heaven a great voice answered, "Moishe! Moishe! Meet me halfway! At least buy a ticket!"

    ReplyDelete
  3. Not un-pc, but:
    Two female ostriches are grazing in the outback, when one looks up, and sees a couple of males approaching. She turns to her friend and says, "Let's get out of here, you know what *they* want". So they walk off. One turns and looks back. "They're following." "Walk faster," says the other. The females break into a trot. "They're going to catch us, what do we do?"
    "I know! Stick our heads in the sand. One- two- three-" and the two females plunge their heads in the sand.
    Both males stop dead in their tracks. One turns to the other, and says, "Hey! Where'd they go?"

    JWM

    ReplyDelete

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