As a writer, I appreciate, probably more than most, a perfectly crafted and turned phrase. I melt with admiration even more when that one phrase is concise enough to tell a story, present an image and evoke an emotion. With this post, my proclivity for humorists who specialize in brilliantly funny, thought-provoking one-liners is becoming obvious. In November, I posted short jokes by Steven Wright, the king of deadpan; and today, I am posting a selection of favorites by American humorist Jack Handey.
Both Wright and Handey are geniuses in the field of creating absurd hypothetical situations that draw laughter through the rearranging of normality in such a way that, at first glance, it can be hard to tell what went missing, or what was replaced. To me, such intelligent humor is much more appealing than that of comedians who bate their audiences with lengthy, fictional stories ending in some trite vulgarity.
Handey became a household name after his jokes started appearing in the Saturday Night Live segment "Deep Thoughts, by Jack Handey." Handey began writing for Saturday Night Live in 1975, after being introduced to the show's creator, Lorne Michaels, by his colleague Steve Martin. "Deep Thoughts" appeared on Saturday night live from 1991 to 1998, introduced by Phil Hartman, and read by Handey, against an ironic backdrop of pastoral scenes and soft instrumental music.
Today, Handey lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with his wife Marta Chavez Handey, and writes short humor pieces for the New Yorker.
"And now, Deep Thoughts, by Jack Handey..."
My young son asked me what happens after we die. I told him we get buried under a bunch of dirt and worms eat our bodies. I guess I should have told him the truth - that most of us go to Hell and burn eternally - but I didn't want to upset him.
When I was a kid my favorite relative was Uncle Caveman. After school we'd all go play in his cave, and every once in a while he would eat one of us. It wasn't until later that I found out that Uncle Caveman was a bear.
Sometimes I think you have to march right in and demand your rights, even if you don't know what your rights are, or who the person is you're talking to. Then on the way out, slam the door.
I wish outer space guys would conquer the Earth and make people their pets, because I'd like to have one of those little beds with my name on it.
If you go parachuting, and your parachute doesn't open, and you friends are all watching you fall, I think a funny gag would be to pretend you were swimming.
I bet one legend that keeps recurring throughout history, in every culture, is the story of Popeye.
If you're in a war, instead of throwing a hand grenade at the enemy, throw one of those small pumpkins. Maybe it'll make everyone think how stupid war is, and while they are thinking, you can throw a real grenade at them.
If you ever crawl inside an old hollow log and go to sleep, and while you're in there some guys come and seal up both ends and then put it on a truck and take it to another city, boy, I don't know what to tell you.
Instead of building newer and larger weapons of mass destruction, I think mankind should try to get more use out of the ones we have.
If you ever catch on fire, try to avoid seeing yourself in the mirror, because I bet that's what REALLY throws you into a panic.
We used to laugh at Grandpa when he'd head off and go fishing. But we wouldn't be laughing that evening when he'd come back with some whore he picked up in town.
If you saw two guys named Hambone and Flippy, which one would you think liked dolphins the most? I'd say Flippy, wouldn't you? You'd be wrong, though. It's Hambone.
One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my little nephew to DisneyLand, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. "Oh, no," I said, "DisneyLand burned down." He cried and cried, but I think that deep down he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real DisneyLand, but it was getting pretty late.
If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is "God is crying." And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is "Probably because of something you did."
Anytime I see something screech across a room and latch onto someones neck, and the guy screams and tries to get it off, I have to laugh, because what is that thing.
If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.
Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis.
This post appears courtesy of our sister site, Beaufort County NOW, with their expressed permission.