I got Joseph Rosenbloom’s “Giant Book of Jokes” when I was around 9. It contains over one thousand jokes, which really might seem like quite a lot for a young boy. In an age before the graphical image macros and social media, one did have to resort to books to get some literary humor.
I can’t testify much to the quality of the book. Most of the jokes are one or two liners, and many rely on awful puns and homophones. For example:
- I don’t care if the basement wall is cracking. Please stop telling everyone you come from a broken home.
- Hot weather never bothers me. I just throw the thermometer out the window and watch the temperature drop.
- Nit: Please call me a taxi.
Wit: Ok, I’ll call you a taxi, though you look more like a truck to me.
If your taste is a bit darker, there are some more sinister or sarcastic ones:
- Junior wrote a letter from camp:
What’s an epidemic?
- Salesman: That suit fits you like a glove.
Customer: Great! Can you show me one that fits like a suit?
In other words, if we want to keep up to date with the current jargon, it’s a book of “dad jokes”.
I’ve actually had quite an experience looking back and rereading the book (now out of print). This is probably where my humor converged to. If only my parents had known, twenty years ago, that I’d absorb this kind of thing to my bones, maybe they’d have gotten me a book about knitting instead. But the damage is done, and in fact, I still use some of the jokes today (!).
They say that every joke has a sliver of truth in it. Ok, obviously not *every* joke. But sometimes you find a joke so accurate, it shakes you with an exhilarating vibration. Two short examples:
- Junior: Why does it rain, Dad?
Father: To make the flowers grow, and the grass and the trees.
Junior: So why does it rain on the sidewalk?
- Teacher: Let us take the example of the busy ant. He works all the time, night and day. Then what happens?
Pupil: He gets stepped on.
The first is a parody of pretty much all purpose-oriented explanations you would get in response to any question (and some scientific ones, too); the second is an all-too-accurate reminder of the futility of our pitiful existence.
But my probable favorite among them all is this gem:
I don’t like spinach and I’m glad I don’t like it, because if I did like it, I would eat it – and I hate the stuff.
In one simple nonsensical sentence, the joke exposes a basic fault of people dealing with politics, religion, and schisms: the belief that one’s opinion is clearly the correct one, and that there is no use in even trying to look at an issue from another perspective, because one’s opinion is clearly the correct one. To apply, just replace spinach with liberal, conservative, religious, atheist, alpha, beta, emacs, vim.
And as for me; I too, used to dislike spinach.