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Jokes for All Occasions

Jokes for All Occasions

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Published by: Doggyy on Apr 11, 2008
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JOKES FOR ALL OCCASIONSSELECTED AND EDITED BY ONE OF AMERICA'S FOREMOST PUBLIC SPEAKERS[Illustration: Publisher's logo]NEW YORKEDWARD J. CLODECOPYRIGHT, 1921, 1922, BYEDWARD J. CLODE_Printed in the United States of America_JOKES FOR ALL OCCASIONSPREFACEThe ways of telling a story are as many as the tellers themselves. It isimpossible to lay down precise rules by which any one may perfecthimself in the art, but it is possible to offer suggestions by which toguide practise in narration toward a gratifying success.Broadly distinguished, there are two methods of telling a story. Oneuses the extreme of brevity, and makes its chief reliance on the point.The other devotes itself in great part to preliminary elaboration in thenarrative, making this as amusing as possible, so that the point itselfserves to cap a climax. In the public telling of an anecdote the tyrowould be well advised to follow the first method. That is, he should puthis reliance on the point of the story, and on this alone. He shouldscrupulously limit himself to such statements as are absolutelyessential to clear understanding of the point. He should make a carefulexamination of the story with two objects in mind: the first, todetermine just what is required in the way of explanation; the second,an exact understanding of the point itself. Then, when it comes to therelating of the story, he must simply give the information required bythe hearers in order to appreciate the point. As to the point itself, hemust guard against any carelessness. Omission of an essential detail isfatal. It may be well for him, at the outset, to memorize the conclusionof the story. No matter how falteringly the story is told, it willsucceed if the point itself be made clear, and this is insured for eventhe most embarrassed speaker by memorizing it.The art of making the whole narration entertaining and amusing is to beattained only by intelligent practise. It is commonly believed thatstory-sellers are born, not made. As a matter of fact, however, the
skilled raconteurs owe their skill in great measure to the fact thatthey are unwearying in practise. It is, therefore, recommended to anyone having ambition in this direction that he cultivate his ability byexercising it. He should practise short and simple stories according tohis opportunities, with the object of making the narration smooth andeasy. An audience of one or two familiar friends is sufficient in theearlier efforts. Afterward, the practise may be extended before a largernumber of listeners on social occasions. When facility has been attainedin the simplest form, attempts to extend the preliminary narrativeshould be made. The preparation should include an effort to invest thecharacters of the story; or its setting, with qualities amusing inthemselves, quite apart from any relation to the point. Preciseinstruction cannot be given, but concentration along this line will ofitself develop the humorous perception of the story-teller, so that,though the task may appear too difficult in prospect, it will not proveso in actual experience. But, in every instance, care must be exercisedto keep the point of the story clearly in view, and to omit nothingessential in the preparation for it.In the selection of stories to be retailed, it is the part of wisdom tochoose the old, rather than the new. This is because the new story, socalled, travels with frightful velocity under modern social conditions,and, in any particular case, the latest story, when told by you to afriend, has just been heard by him from some other victim of it. Butthe memory of most persons for stories is very short. Practically neverdoes it last for years. So, it is uniformly safe to present as noveltiesat the present day the humor of past decades. Moreover, the exercise ofsome slight degree of ingenuity will serve to give those touches in theway of change by which the story may be brought up to date. Indeed, bysuch adaptation, the story is made really one's own--as the professionalhumorists thankfully admit!INTRODUCTIONWit and humor, and the distinction between them, defy precisedefinition. Luckily, they need none. To one asking what is beauty, a witreplied: "That is the question of a blind man." Similarly, none requiresa definition of wit and humor unless he himself be lacking in allappreciation of them, and, if he be so lacking, no amount of explanationwill avail to give him understanding. Borrow, in one of his sermons,declared concerning wit: "It is, indeed, a thing so versatile,multiform, appearing in so many shapes and garbs, so variouslyapprehended of several eyes and judgments, that it seemeth no less hardto settle a clear and certain notion thereof than to make a portrait ofProteus, or to define the figure of the fleeting wind." Nor is itfitting to attempt exact distinctions between wit and humor, which areessentially two aspects of one thing. It is enough to realize that humoris the product of nature rather than of art, while wit is the expressionof an intellectual art. Humor exerts an emotional appeal, producessmiles or laughter; wit may be amusing, or it may not, according to thecircumstances, but it always provokes an intellectual appreciation.Thus, Nero made a pun on the name of Seneca, when the philosopher wasbrought before him for sentence. In speaking the decree that the old manshould kill himself, the emperor used merely the two Latin words: "Se
neca." We admit the ghastly cleverness of the jest, but we do notchuckle over it.The element of surprise is common to both wit and humor, and it isoften a sufficient cause for laughter in itself, irrespective of anyessentially amusing quality in the cause of the surprise. Theunfamiliar, for this reason, often has a ludicrous appeal to primitivepeoples. An African tribe, on being told by the missionary that theworld is round, roared with laughter for hours; it is told of a Mikadothat he burst a blood-vessel and died in a fit of merriment induced byhearing that the American people ruled themselves. In like fashion, theaverage person grins or guffaws at sight of a stranger in an outlandishcostume, although, as a matter of fact, the dress may be in everyrespect superior to his own. Simply, its oddity somehow tickles therisibilities. Such surprise is occasioned by contrasting circumstances.When a pompous gentleman, marching magnificently, suddenly steps on abanana peel, pirouettes, somersaults, and sits with extreme violence, welaugh before asking if he broke a leg.The fundamentals of wit and humor are the same throughout all thevarious tribes of earth, throughout all the various ages of history. Thecauses of amusement are essentially the same everywhere and always, andonly the setting changes according to time and place. But racialcharacteristics establish preferences for certain aspects of fun-making,and such preferences serve to some extent in differentiating the writtenhumor of the world along the lines of nationality. Nevertheless, it is afact that the really amusing story has an almost universal appeal. Ihave seen in an American country newspaper a town correspondent'shumorous effort in which he gave Si Perkins's explanation of being injail. And that explanation ran on all fours with a Chinese story agesand ages old. The local correspondent did not plagiarize from theChinaman: merely, the humorous bent of the two was identical. In theancient Oriental tale, a man who wore the thief's collar as a punishmentwas questioned by an acquaintance concerning the cause of his plight."Why, it was just nothing at all," the convict explained easily. "I wasstrolling along the edge of the canal, when I happened to catch sight ofa bit of old rope. Of course, I knew that old piece of rope was of nouse to anyone, and so I just picked it up, and took it home with me.""But I don't understand," the acquaintance exclaimed. "Why should theypunish you so severely for a little thing like that? I don't understandit.""I don't understand it, either," the convict declared, "unless, maybe,it was because there was an ox at the other end of the rope."The universality of humor is excellently illustrated in Greekliterature, where is to be found many a joke at which we are laughingto-day, as others have laughed through the centuries. Half a thousandyears before the Christian era, a platonic philosopher at Alexandria, byname Hierocles, grouped twenty-one jests in a volume under the title,"Asteia." Some of them are still current with us as typical Irish bulls.Among these were accounts of the "Safety-first" enthusiast whodetermined never to enter the water until he had learned to swim; of thehorse-owner, training his nag to live without eating, who was successfulin reducing the feed to a straw a day, and was about to cut this offwhen the animal spoiled the test by dying untimely; of the fellow who

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