Mary Beth Writes

Humor 3/8/2023

I heard this joke in a sermon in 1974. I heard that highly revered minister preach at least a hundred sermons and this is the ONLY thing I remember him saying.  

A guy loses his job and is desperate for a new one with which to support his precious family. Nothing turns up until one day the newspaper Help Wanted Ads (so now you know how old this jokes really is) says the zoo has an opening. Guy applies. The HR person looks worried and then says the zoo changed its mind, the job is too demeaning. Guy says he’s desperate, will take anything.

“Well, okay then. Our famous and beloved ape has died. So many patrons came here to visit him and we can’t afford to lose that audience. So we taxidermized him into a suit and want to hire someone to wear it and pretend to be him”.

Guy says yeah, it’s weird but he will do it. Guy is VERY good at this job. He climbs, dances, hoots, and hums. People attend the zoo like crazy to see the amazing and entertaining ape. Then, one day he’s climbing the tree in his cage, goes too far out on a branch, and FALLS INTO THE LION CAGE!

He yells. “HELP! HELP!!!”

The lion rushes to him, opens his mouth, and whispers, “Shut up or we’ll both get fired.”


Humor relaxes the body, gets us to breathe, causes us to smile. For a moment we feel happy. This is probably why the humor (and music) of people who live under oppression is often the best humor. Humor and music are the homelands of people without a safe homeland.

Example: Rios Montt was a brutal military dictator in Guatemala in the early 1980’s; his two years in office were the bloodiest of Guatemala’s long bloody civil war (the US backed Montt in case you were wondering). Anyways, it was said of Montt that he was born with a twin – who was deceased with signs of torture.

The humor of the oppressed can be very pointed.

Humor can provide release and relief in tense or distraught moments and situations.

I learned at my brother’s funeral that for more than a year he had let his hair grow long enough to wear in a pony tail. One night he was out at a bar with friends.   (Well, to be truthful, he was out at a bar most of the nights of his adult life except when he had friends over to the bar in his house.)   Anyways, a guy just visiting his town happened to be at that bar that night and struck up a lively conversation with Paul. (A big part of this joke is that my brother could talk to anyone about anything and make them feel good about themselves in the process.) When Paul went to the restroom the guy asked someone at their table what “her” name was. Paul got a haircut the next day.  

Losing Paul when he was only 51 was awful and yet, that joke brings the best of him back to me every time.

Some humor provides a way to be superior to others. When your life causes you to feel like a loser, its easy to feel superior again by making fun of others.

This is a dangerous humor. Calling women Barbie's or Karen’s is humor until it is a toxic way to disenfranchise the voices of women - as several readers named Barbara and Karen understand.

Trump mimicking reporter Serge Kovaleski who has arthrogryposis in this arm. That year Merely Streep accepted an award at the Golden Globe with this: “That was the one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good; there was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head, because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose.”

Some humor - IMHO the best humor – is just nutty. It’s can be delightfully incongruous and memorable when unrelated ideas are mingled.

Oscar Wilde’s “Work is the curse of the drinking classes.”

Mark Twain on just about any topic. “I was educated once - it took me years to get over it.” “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” “Don’t wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.”

Random internet joke: My boss was honest with me today. He pulled up to work with his sweet new car this morning and I complimented him on it. He replied, "Well, if you work hard, set goals, stay determined and put in long hours, I can get an even better one next year."

Len just heard this with which we will end this important essay. “Getting lots of sleep helps prevent the ravages of old age. Especially if you do it while you drive.”







Leonard's picture

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."

Much of this made me smile and I laughed out loud at the ape and Lion joke!
Mary Beth's picture

Thank you, KAREN!

Attributed to either Will Rogers or Jack Handy: “When I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.” ― Will Rogers

I was reminded again by this essay of Trump's reprehensible behavior when he made fun of the disabled reporter. I really loved what Meryl Streep had to say about Trump because it really was all about him and much less to do with the reporter. It showed us all exactly what he is made of. Ms. Streep put it more elegantly and precisely than I ever probably could, but I do remember my first thought at Trump's "performance": " This is a person stuck in eighth grade." Of course, I mean socially and emotionally. Having him in the most powerful position on this planet was of no comfort and frightening in so many ways. Wish I could come up with a joke to lighten my post up a little. I love jokes. I'm just not so good at remembering and then telling them.
Mary Beth's picture

Yeah, I was astonished so many times during Trump's campaign and administration at the truly ugly things he said and did, or that others in his milieu said and did. It was a wakeup call to the interior lives of many of our fellow citizens. There were and still are some incredible jokes about him, but they don't seem very funny. Maybe in a hundred years.

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Be a (bit of a) Scientist This Summer!


This is an updated rerun of a story I posted last spring.

This is about Stream Monitoring and How to Do It. You don’t have to be a man to do this, but many are and that’s as close to the obvious joke as I’m going to go.

Len and his volunteer pal Tom enjoy this volunteer gig a lot. Once each month in the summer they go to the same stretch of the same stream to check water quality and to discover what creatures are lurking in the water and muck.  

A-Z Ice Cream & Marco Polo

DQ will never look the same. This photo is of a patio where one eats their gelato, somewhere in Italy. 



What is the thing most people spend a great deal of time, energy, and money keeping off our necks and out of our homes?

Chilly air

What is ice cream?

Chilly air with sugar.



We are working our way through an Alphabet of Topics and we are currently considering the letter I. Two days ago, I wrote about Idiosyncrasies. Today is Igloo. Next up is Ice Cream.

So here we are again with nervous banks and a jumpy stock market and we “commoners” quietly peruse how many bags of beans we have in the pantry. I hope by the time I finish and post this the news is more stable, but I doubt it. “May you live in interesting times.” Right?

You know what I learned while researching igloos?

I is for Idiosyncrasy - "I'm not goofy. You are..."

3/14/2023  (Happy Pi Day)

Idiosyncrasies are like cave drawings; enigmatic clues that say once upon a time something happened here. A story unfolded. Someone tried to solve a problem. The solution worked, or at least it kept the person comfortable or comforted long enough for the idiosyncratic habit to form.

A-Z Heaven ...


First of all, you should realize that tomorrow is March 4th which is the only date of the year which tells you what to do. Hah.

This week I was amazed by this map/representation of the process of the creation of a new star. A year ago, there were no visuals of this process. What you are looking at is cutting-edge stuff observed and collaborated by 90 astronomers worldwide.

That + in the middle is the new star that right now is bigger than our sun. We know it’s young and new because it’s growing.

A-Z Hairy and Hair


Words nominated for the letter H were: Hairy, Heaven, and Humor. Let’s start with Hairy and then let it morph into Hair.


Our 4-year-old Madison grandkid goes to 4K classes which do not meet on Mondays. My son and his wife often work from home but imagine how easy it is to run the Monday morning zoom meeting for your work team while someone who small and not patient needs to lisp urgently to you right now.

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