Top 15 Jokes Of 2017


There’s enough going wrong in the world this week that even we optimists are getting the Windex out to clean our rose-coloured glasses.  Just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse – they did.  People are starting to read Kafka for laughs and Cormac McCarthy is beginning to look downright lighthearted.  However, rather than dwell on the obvious let’s stop for a moment, pour a beverage and relax.

Remember, August is that time of year when the local folks of Edinburgh rent their houses out for mucho dinero and bugger off to Spain; chased out of their town by the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  For those of you who’ve never heard of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, that’s too bad because it’s the greatest mish-mash of all-things-considered in the world.  The Edinburgh Fringe is actually several coexisting arts festivals that run amok, day and night, through the streets of Edinburgh for the entire month of August.  It was started in the late 1940s by some university students, and even though it’s become internationally huge, it still maintains its undergraduate Alphagetti-for-breakfast air.

One of the biggest parts of The Fringe is comedy; some good, some bad, some awful.  And for the last few years, it has produced a Top Ten [Fifteen] list of the funniest jokes of the Festival.  This is this year’s offering.  So, as the world continues to spin, tune out for a second and remember we’re still the funniest species on the planet.  (oddly enough, this was written in 2011)

The top 15 funniest jokes from the Fringe (2017)

  1. “I’m not a fan of the new pound coin, but then again, I hate all change” – Ken Cheng
  2. “Trump’s nothing like Hitler. There’s no way he could write a book” – Frankie Boyle
  3. “I’ve given up asking rhetorical questions. What’s the point?” – Alexei Sayle
  4. “I’m looking for the girl next door type. I’m just gonna keep moving house till I find her” – Lew Fitz
  5. “I like to imagine the guy who invented the umbrella was going to call it the ‘brella’. But he hesitated” – Andy Field
  6. “Combine Harvesters. And you’ll have a really big restaurant” – Mark Simmons
  7. “I’m rubbish with names. It’s not my fault, it’s a condition. There’s a name for it…” – Jimeoin
  8. “I have two boys, 5 and 6. We’re no good at naming things in our house” – Ed Byrne
  9. “I wasn’t particularly close to my dad before he died… which was lucky, because he trod on a land mine” – Olaf Falafel
  10. “Whenever someone says, ‘I don’t believe in coincidences.’ I say, ‘Oh my God, me neither!”‘ – Alasdair Beckett-King
  11. “A friend tricked me into going to Wimbledon by telling me it was a men’s singles event” – Angela Barnes
  12. “As a vegan, I think people who sell meat are disgusting; but apparently people who sell fruit and veg are grocer” – Adele Cliff
  13. “For me dying is a lot like going camping. I don’t want to do it” – Phil Wang
  14. “I wonder how many chameleons snuck onto the Ark” – Adam Hess
  15. “I went to a Pretenders gig. It was a tribute act” – Tim Vine


What A Week!

statueWow!  For a regular, low sun, mid winter, stay-at-home-and-eat-soup week, a lot of stuff happened in the world.

It turns out Vladimir Putin, the guy who does mean bastard even in his sleep, was accused of accumulating (“stealing” is such a hard word) tons of money — billions, apparently.  Think about it!  “Russian Oligarchy” has been a cliché for ruthless corruption ever since Boris Yeltsin discovered Smirnoff, and this is news?  I don’t think so!  If it was reported Putin was actually poor and was doing all his various vicious dictator stuff for free — that would be news.

Barbie now has three new sizes: curvy, petite and tall.  Excellent marketing ploy by Mattel. Now little girls will be able to understand the total frustration of not being able to buy any cool clothes — that actually fit — long before they have to face that for real, as adults.

The world has gotten just a little grumpier.  Facebook decided that we don’t have to automatically “Like” everything we set our eyes on, anymore.  Apparently, Mark Zuckerberg thinks his customers are now mature enough to handle a few other emotions.  They are (or will be) Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, and Angry.  When journalists asked when these new emotions will be available (as in, “Are we there, yet?”)  Zuckerberg answered, “Preettty soooon!”

And finally:

When it comes to WTF moments, nothing beats the Italian government covering up nude statues because the Iranian leader, Hassan Rouhani, showed up in Rome for a visit.  It seems Iranian politicos don’t like what goes on under our clothes, so the Italians chose to accommodate them.  It’s like saying, “Yeah, we had this thing called the Renaissance, but if it bothers you, we’ll just shut up about it.”  No big deal, really.  After all, the Iranians have promised they don’t want to nuke us anymore, and besides, the last time Europe took a Moslem threat seriously was the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.  The thing that blows me away, though, is there was no media outcry, no blogosphere explosion, no #ain’titawful on Twitter and not one arts organization — from the Ural Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean — got up on its hind legs and said, “Hold it!  That’s the foundation of Western culture you’re messing with.”  So much for artistic integrity!

What a week!  I’m sure glad tomorrow’s Saturday.

Art: What You See Is What You Get

shane2Art is like sex.  It’s always better to jump in and do it than just sit around and talk about it.  However, that’s exactly what I intend to do right now.  The thing is, after a lifetime of working in words I still have no idea how visual artists do what they do.  One minute, there’s a blank canvas; somebody adds some paint and suddenly I have tears in my eyes.  That’s the nature of visual art though — the Weeping Willows are supposed to make you weep.  But why?

The closest I’ve ever come to understanding the process of turning blank space into emotion is talking to Montreal artist Shane Watt.  Shane does MAPS: semi-fictional, intriguing records of our time, that he maintains all exist in an autonomous universe called Loyala.  He’s created public murals in North America and Europe, and has exhibited in Montreal, New York, Barcelona, etc.  Many of his original works are in private collections.  He sells prints, creates book covers, paints doors, has a kick-ass coffee mug collection and has been known to design protest signs when the cause is right.  And he does tons of other cool stuff.  You can get the whole blurb here.

Shane is one of the few artists I know who doesn’t spend a lot of time explaining what he’s “trying'” to do.  There isn’t a whole lot of buildup to his art.  It just kinda exists.  However, on a few occasions we’ve talked about the nature of art and the artistic process.  According to Shane (I’m paraphrasing, BTW) all art is anarchy, structure and magic.  The anarchy is the artist’s concept — however complete or chaotic.  The structure is the artist’s creation — that tangible piece that exists separate from the artist.  And the magic is what the audience perceives — how individual memory and experience interprets what the artist has done.  Shane says these things must all exist simultaneously.  And the work itself is simply a visual record of the artist’s attempt to structure personal chaos in such a way that strangers can understand it.

“Okay, I get that part, buddy,”  I said, “But it still blows me away that Caravaggio and Rubens can reach across the centuries and speak so personally to me.”
“That’s why it’s called art,” Shane replied.  “It’s been waiting for you to complete the Trinity.”