I know I’ve promised you tidbits from The World’s Best Jokes (edited Lewis Copeland, 1936), but I’ve been having trouble choosing among “Rube Jokes”, "Scotch Jokes”, "Little Willies” and “College Rhymes”. Someone far wiser than me can perhaps peruse the pages in question and explain why so many of the yclept jokes are not at all funny. Not even grimace funny. (Funny Haha, Funny Odd, Funny rowboat? None of the above.)
Instead, I am presenting a few gems from Take It From Me, by Neal O’Hara. (Extensive research, i.e. Google, tells me that Mr. O’Hara was Harvard’15, served in the Ordnance Department of the Army during WW1, was a well-known humorist, wrote for vaudeville and also wrote a regular column for the Boston Herald-Traveler. According to the Harvard Crimson:
His column in the Traveler is one of the most widely read and well known of all newspaper column.
Could this explain why my father found his jokes so hilarious? The book in question includes chapters full of random bits of information (e.g. “All Arabs abhor whistling and believe that when a person has whistled, it takes 40 days to purify the mouth”, separated by Favorite Gags and Favorite Questions.
Some questions for you:
#17. Briefly, what is suede?
#28. Where is the largest wireless receiving station in the world located?
#2 Where is Heidelberg College in America located? (Dad got this one. There’s a mystery for you.)
Example of a joke that inspired paternal mirth:
DRUNK: (to resplendently uniformed bystander): Call me a cab, will yuh?
BYSTANDER: My Good man, I am not a doorman; I’m a naval officer.
DRUNK: Okay then buddy; call me a boat. I gotta get home.
Tomorrow, things will get serious again.