Let's Reminisce: The jokes of yesteryear
By Jerry Lincecum
Feb 20, 2018
Print this page
Email this article

I’ve been reading The Ultimate Book of Jokes, and it has reminded me of that period in my adolescence when I was amused by jokes that I now recognize as silly at best and at worst, sick humor that was not even funny.  I’m remembering knock knock jokes and nonsensical stories about little morons, blind people, lawyers and such.  No race or ethnic group has been left out, no profession or hobby or character flaw escaped the limelight.  That’s the politically correct negative view of jokes.

On the other hand, laughter is good for us.  It promotes a healthy immune system, and a hearty laugh really does exercise your heart (by increasing your heart rate) and give a workout to the muscles in your face and upper body.  In fact, laughter can be thought of as a mini-workout for your body, mind and spirit.  I also agree with the English writer Joseph Addison, who said, “Mankind is distinguished from all other creatures by the ability to laugh.”  As an English teacher I learned to appreciate the remarkable range and complexity of our humor: wit, satire, sarcasm, irony, farce, slapstick, and I always pointed out to my students the finer points of comedy. 

Jokes come in different genres, usually beginning a certain way and then ending with a twist that takes us by surprise.  Two morons were walking through the woods and they came to some tracks.  The first moron said, “These look like deer tracks to me.”  The other moron disagreed: “No, they look like moose tracks.”  They argued and argued and were still arguing when the train hit them.

Why are there so many jokes about dumb blondes?  Are blondes less intelligent than redheads or brunettes?  Perhaps their stereotypical good looks and the way they are portrayed in movies and TV shows has set them up to be targeted by the rest of us.  This example also follows the formula for the “bar joke.”

A blind man walks into a bar, makes his way to a bar stool, and orders a drink.  After sitting there for a while, he yells at the bartender, “Hey, you wanna hear a blonde joke?”

The bar falls absolutely quiet.  In a very deep, husky voice the woman next to him says, “Before you tell that joke, sir, I think it is only fair that you should know five things.  First, the bartender is a blonde girl with a baseball bat.  Second, the bouncer is a blonde girl.  Third, I’m a blonde with a black belt in karate.  Fourth, the woman sitting next to me is a blonde and a professional boxer.  Fifth, the lady to your right is a blonde and a decorated war veteran.”

She then puts her hand on the blind man’s arm and says, “Now think about it seriously, mister.  Do you still want to tell that blonde joke?”  The blind man thinks for a second, shakes his head, and mutters, “Naw, it’s not worth it if I’m going to have to explain it five times.”

Ethnic jokes also depend on stereotypes: A Jewish grandmother was watching her two young grandchildren playing in a park.  She meets an old friend who says, “What wonderful little boys, these must be your grandchildren.  How old are they?”

She replies, “The lawyer is four and the doctor is two.”

Talking animals (and insects) make up another genre: A grasshopper walks into a bar and the bartender says, “Hey, we have a drink named after you.”

The grasshopper says, “What, you have a drink named Murray?”

Despite my having been a college professor for four decades, I can still appreciate this joke: How many professors does it take to change a light bulb?

One (with eight research students, three programmers, and two postdocs to assist).

Jerry Lincecum is a retired Austin College professor who now teaches older adults to write their autobiographies and family histories.  Email him at