A spectrum of jokes

I think I used the word "puerile" to describe many blogs in my previous post, so here goes.

Here are the Grauniad’s "corrections and clarifications" from yesterday’s edition. Pay special attention to the last one on the list.

For more upmarket humour, popular science writer Brian Clegg writes on his blog Popsci that many jokes will "separate the scientists from the other people in the room". He tells a good one (go to the link in previous sentence) — well, it made me laugh, so I must be a scientist I suppose. He then asks his readers to suggest more, and there are some very funny examples in the comments.

Graham Steel’s offering (in the comment thread): "A neutron walks into a bar. “I’d like a beer,” he says. The bartender promptly serves us a beer. “How much will that be? asks the neutron. “For you?” replies the bartender. “No charge.” "

My favourite, though, is not a joke but a lovely posting via Cath Ennis on the analogy between the Lord of the Rings and doing a PhD. Lovely. Very much worth reading.

One for Uriah

From a brief in today’s Times newspaper edition (4 Jan p 4):

A retired dentist aged 102 will become Britain’s oldest emigrant when he leaves Britain to start a new life in New Zealand. Eric King-Turner will leave his home in Titchfield, near Southampton, tomorrow with his wife, Doris, who is 87. He said: "If you want to do something, you should do it straight away while you can."

An inconvenient truth?

Today I had occasion to visit the website of the obesity society, and was amused to be greeted by this message:

"Because we’re expanding our programs and our staff, The Obesity Society has outgrown its old offices."

Words fail me.

Blackberry diagnosis

Link: Dilbert Comic Strip Archive – Dilbert.com – The Official Dilbert Website by Scott Adams – Dilbert, Dogbert and Coworkers!

This Dilbert comic strip is so funny in many ways. Scott Adams catches microtrends and spears corporate life like no other (he taps the contemporary pulse unnervingly on his blog, which is an art form in how to play an audience). In the strip, Catbert (head of human resources) introduces the new company health plan: "from now on, employees have to use Google to diagnose their own illnesses". Funny enough, but a couple of panels on Catbert is sitting in a meeting searching his Blackberry to diagnose a disease .. which will surely raise a smile among those who go to meetings with people who use Blackberrys to conduct other business simultaneously.

The diagnosis and treatment are worth a look, too.

Agoraphobic Caveman

Link: The Dilbert Blog: Agoraphobic Caveman.

If you are Scott’s friend, you’ll either ignore him or tell him a lie in his comments (see the post at the link above for enlightenment). I think Scott Adams puts very well the dilemma of many a modern person — not just the football fan who can’t stay up late enough to watch the ludicrously protracted Match of the Day Featuring Every Premiership Match in the League to Maximise Sponsorship Revenue, and so has to go around with noise-reduction headphones on until there is a window to watch the replay, but also the average multitasker, who does not, of course, have time to actually watch TV at all. There are those of us walking around who are several series behind in 24, and a series behind in other cases (eg Desperate Housewives – Desperately Absent Viewer, I call it).

I am so bad on the time management front that I’ve even had to outsource the recording process to my daughters. By the time I get around to watching all our taped programmes, the technology will be obsolete. Looking on the bright side, I’ll be so old that my memory will have completely vanished, so I won’t know if I ever did accidentally find out that crucial plot twist before I saw the episode in question.

The Humor-to-Naughtiness Ratio

Link: The Dilbert Blog: The Humor-to-Naughtiness Ratio.

This Dilbert post (link above) is just so funny. So funny, times two.

My answer is that he got the first comic strip published because the editors didn’t get the joke; and the second one got published because nobody (including Scott Adams) realised that a character in it really was a giant pe**s.

(The asterisks aren’t because of my or anyone’s sensibilities, but because I don’t want to attract the wrong sort of spam to this blog.)

Failing a Gender Test

Would you pass or fail Scott Adams’ gender test?

Link: The Dilbert Blog: Failing a Gender Test.

A cartoonist’s confession

How many cartoonists does it take to change a lightbulb? Find out here: The Dilbert Blog: Confession. Do read to the end, it is a lovely punchline.

A sense of humour

Peter of Detectives Beyond Borders alerts us to a discussion in the Australasian Crime Fiction forum in which Karen C asks us which crime fiction authors we find funny and why. There are some interesting selections there, including mine — but unfortunately I realise now that I’ve probably broken Forum rule 101 — "read the title of the forum", as mine involve non-Australasian authors. Sorry, guys! (But I bet you travel, Debi ;-). ) Bill James is mentioned, and I’m hoping to get some of his for Christmas. (It would be a digression to say why here, so maybe I’ll post about that another time.)

My reaction to Karen’s question is that I don’t usually like books that set out to be funny, crime fiction or no. I love it when I read something that makes me laugh "in passing", as it were: the joy of discovery is part of the pleasure of it. But books that promote themselves as "crime caper with a dash of chick lit", or whatever, are not generally to my taste.

So what does make one laugh? Rest assured, I am not going to attempt to answer that philosophical question here; rather I ask it to segue into this lovely post by Scott Adams of the Dilbert Blog on "nearly funny things". Scott writes:

"The key to finding good humor fodder is that the story must be NEARLY funny without being completely funny on its own. For example, if I see a story about some spatially challenged burglar who got his head stuck in a chimney, and a stork built a nest in his ass, that’s already completely funny. There’s nothing for me to add.

What I’m looking for is a story that makes me giggle before I even know why – the potential is there but it needs some magic humor dust to make it all that it can be."

And I think that explains very well why I am not too keen on "funny books", but love it when I uncover some slightly quirky passage that makes me burst out laughing. (Scott describes how he writes humour in the rest of that post at the Dilbert blog — well worth a read.) 

Sand Storm’s useful advice

My version of Bryan Appleyard’s version of Iain Dale’s meme "ten things I’d never do" has been satisfyingly picked up all over the place. But one set of answers is buried in the comments to my earlier post — I’d love to share them with a wider readership.

Step forward Steve of Sand Storm, whose list has the strong hint of variant "ten things I’d never do again". I am more than happy to take all of his advice. Thanks for the laugh, Steve, you are one of a kind. Have a chocolate on me.

"1 Yell "Hey look at that" when my brother in law is driving.
2 Let my brother in law drive.
3 Tell the 7’1" bouncer at Treasure Island Hotel in Las Vegas "ya you and what army".That arm is still sore.
4 Stick my tongue on the frost of a metal clothesline pole.
5 Paddle across a lake on an air mattress to see Tommy James and the Shondells.
6 Watch John Mellencamp in concert when he is so blitzed he couldn’t sing.
7 Put my face up to a cage that houses a Mandrill.
8 Slap the ol’ mare on the ass as we start riding downhill.
9 Tell the Mexican lady at the taco stand in L.A. that "I like it as hot as you can make it."
10 Drive the zodiac that close to a pod of Killer whales."

Steve’s list reminds me of the time when Nicky Hilton, one-time husband to Liz Taylor and of the Hilton hotel empire, was asked by an interviewer if he had any advice or words of wisdom to impart to the world. "Don’t hang the shower curtain outside the bath" came the response.