Top 15 Jokes Of 2017

edinburgh

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

 

Groundhog Day (not the movie)

groundhogToday, in North America, it’s Groundhog Day.  For the uninitiated, Groundhog Day is one of those folksy occasions when everybody from Malibu to Manhattan pretends we all still live in villages.  The irony is it’s almost exclusively a mass media event, and although some of us might see it on TV, the vast majority mostly miss it and literally nobody I’ve ever even heard of has participated in person.  Here’s the deal.

There’s no heavy tradition behind Groundhog Day.  It was born and raised in the mind of Clymer H. Freas, a newspaper editor in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.  Sometime in the 1880s, he cobbled together some German folklore into a midwinter event that would bring local people into his town to spend money.  From there, it swept across North America until it became woven into the fabric of our society.  That’s it!

So, on February 2nd, all over the continent, various local notables trot out a groundhog or a reasonable facsimile (Alaska uses a marmot: New Orleans, a coypu.) the cameras roll and everybody waits to see what happens.  According the Groundhog Day rules, if the groundhog sees his shadow (a sunny day) he will be frightened, go back into his den (cage) and there will be six more weeks of winter.  However, if he doesn’t see his shadow (a cloudy day) he’ll hang out for a while and spring is on the way.  There is absolute no mention of hordes of people scaring the crap out of him, or what happens if he’s a tough little bastard and shadows don’t scare him.  Meteorology by rodent is obviously not an exact science.

However, trying to explain the apathetic popularity of Groundhog Day to someone who didn’t grow up with it is like trying to explain baseball to a Borneo head hunter or McDonalds to the French.  They look at you like a Labrador puppy trying to figure out “Fetch!” (It’s the head tilt.)

But, despite the fact that virtually nobody in North America really cares about Groundhog Day — nobody wishes anybody “Happy Groundhog Day,” nobody marks it on the calendar (as in, “I don’t want to miss that action!”) or even makes any effort to attend the various ceremonies — we all still know about it, talk about it, and understand it.  It’s like Kim Kardashian’s bum: it exists in our collective consciousness, but for no apparent reason.  And that’s the magic of North American culture: most of it simply exists, without explanation, and Groundhog Day is a perfect example.