– It’s okay to laugh.

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I was recently delivering a talk at The Villages in Florida regarding my new book, “Tim’s SENIOR MOMENTS.” I was talking about how life has changed over the last fifty years, such as technology, social customs, our music, even our humor. As to the latter, I reflected on how we do not tell jokes anymore. Interestingly, a hush fell over the audience as I had hit a politically incorrect topic and they seemed apprehensive as to what I would say, which I’ll explain momentarily. As for me, I was startled by the silence but persevered and told the joke which was well received.

The American sense of humor has changed radically over the years. We don’t tell many jokes anymore in social or business settings. Instead, jokes have been replaced by Internet videos and cartoons, and somehow I miss the art of storytelling. Years ago, while waiting to change planes at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, I happened to stop for a drink at a small bar near my gate. Standing at the bar was comedian Jackie Coogan (Uncle Fester from the old Addams Family TV show) who was also in transit and stopped for a drink. He started telling jokes and in no time at all had everyone in gales of laughter as he told one risque joke after another.

Over the years, I think I’ve heard just about everything. So much so, when a person tries to tell a joke, I can often guess the punch line. I have heard jokes about sex, politicians, the military, traveling salesmen, prisons, hair lips, animals, blondes, midgets, gays, religion, but the most prevalent jokes have been ethnic in nature.

As I traveled around the world, I noticed everyone has an ethnic group they like to pick on, for example: the Brazilians tell Portuguese jokes (as do the Spanish), the Japanese tell Korean jokes, the Greeks tell Albanian jokes, Canadians tell “Newfie” jokes (people from Newfoundland), South Africans tell “Von der Merven” jokes (Dutch related), Texans tell “Aggie” jokes (Texas A&M University), and it seems Irish and French jokes are universal. When I lived in Chicago, I heard the best “Pollock” jokes, mostly from the Polish themselves. Come to think of it, most of the ethnic groups I’ve met love to tell jokes about their own kind which seems a bit odd. Now that I think about it, I cannot remember hearing of a Swiss joke. Maybe it’s because the country is neutral, or maybe they are just not funny.

You don’t hear too many ethnic jokes anymore, probably because it is not considered politically correct, and you will inevitably be labeled a “racist.”

Regardless of the type of joke, they are rarely told anymore in social settings, which I consider rather sad as we have forgotten how to laugh at ourselves, such as human perspectives, priorities, and sense of right and wrong.

When I attend meetings with young people half my age, I am often asked to tell a joke from my ancient repertoire. The jokes may be 40 to 50 years old, but the young people haven’t heard them, thereby providing me with a new audience. Frankly, I am surprised how many I can remember.

Here is the joke I used. I originally heard it from my next door neighbor years ago (I have to clean it up a little):

One day, an elementary school teacher was trying to teach some lessons of morality. She asked the class, “Can anyone tell me a story which leads to a moral lesson?”

Little Betsy raised her hand and said, “I can teacher. Not long ago I was visiting my grandparents’ farm in the country. They asked me to collect the eggs in the hen house and bring them inside. I collected all of them and put them in a basket. However, I accidentally tripped and dropped the basket, breaking all of the eggs in the process.”

“And what was the lesson learned there?” the teacher asked.

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” Betsy replied.

“That’s very good Betsy, that is the type of story I’m looking for. Is there anyone else?”

Little Sally raised her hand and said, “I have somewhat of a similar story. I was visiting a friend recently who had an incubator with twelve chicken eggs in it. We watched in amazement as they all began to hatch. Unfortunately, my friend tripped over the power cord causing the incubator to turn over, break the eggs, and kill all of the chickens.”

“And what was the lesson learned there?” the teacher asked.

“Don’t count your chickens before they hatch,” Sally said.

“Very good. Has anyone else got a story with a moral they would like to share?”

“I do teacher,” little Eddie said as he waved his hand. “My Uncle John was a pilot in Viet Nam during the war. One day he was flying a cargo mission and was shot down by the North Vietnamese. He crash landed in the jungle, and was only able to save his M60 machine gun, a machete, and a case of beer stored on the aircraft. He hid out in the jungle hoping a chopper would pick him up. After he had finished drinking all of the beer, he was discovered by the Viet Cong who attacked him. In defense, he took out his M60 and killed fifty of them. When he ran out of bullets, he used his machete to kill fifteen more, and when his blade broke, he killed five more with his bare hands.”

The teacher looked ashen at little Eddie reeling from his tale. She stammered, “And what…what…what is the moral of that story?” she asked.

“You don’t mess with my Uncle John when he’s drunk.”

Yea, I know, the joke is not politically correct and appears to be insensitive to life, but it has also resulted in gales of laughter both yesterday and today, particularly from vets. It also illustrates how our sense of humor has changed.

Frankly, we need to loosen up a bit and quit taking ourselves too seriously.

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – Also do not forget my new books, “How to Run a Nonprofit” and “Tim’s Senior Moments”, both available in Printed and eBook form.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

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