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Particularly nasty weather

Two friends, boyhood cohorts who’d spent many happy hours as children pulling pranks around their neighbourhood, reunite after one of them returns from a job overseas.

They talk of their experiences whilst apart over dinner, and reminisce about the good old days, recalling the many stunts which gave them so much pleasure in their youth. Finally, having sunk four bottles of wine and a few Cognacs, they agree that the occasion calls for further forays into Bacchanalia, and repair to the closest bar.

“Hey Joe,” says one to the other while they wait for their drink order, “Watch this…” and urging his friend to pay attention he says to the bartender “Tickle your arse with a feather.” The young woman, outraged, says “I beg your pardon!”

“Particularly nasty weather,” his friend quickly returns to her.

“Oh, uh yes, it is,” the bartender replies, clearly not certain whether she’d heard him right the first time.

The two friends splutter laughing as they move away from the bar, and Joe determines to try the stunt at their next port of call, to which they stumble following several more little drinks.

Joe sidles up to the bar and tries to focus on the lovely young face of the bartender, being a great deal more affected by his liberal libations than he might have anticipated, and has to steady himself before he can open his mouth to utter “Tickle your arse with a feather.”

Despite the gross slurring of his words the bartender appears to have immediately understood him and after a long shift serving increasingly drunken patrons is not in the mood for jokes. “I beg your pardon!” she screams at him.

Flustered by what he considers an over the top reaction Joe forgets his line, though recalling the general thrust, and blurts “Fuck of a day.”

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Poetry or prose

The teacher stood in front of her class and wrote two words on the blackboard. Poetry, and prose. “Does anyone know the difference,” she said, “between poetry and prose?”

No one put up his hand.

“Alright,” said the teacher, “here’s an example. If I were to say Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow, and everywhere that Mary went the lamb was sure to go – well that would be poetry. But if I said Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow, and everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to follow her – well that would be prose. Is anyone beginning to understand now?”

“Oh, oh, Miss I think I understand,” said a little boy, waving his arm in the air.

“Oh, very good, Johnnie,” said his teacher.

“Yes, Miss, and I’ve got an example,” said Johnnie.

“Would you like to share it with us?” said the teacher.

“Yes, Miss,” said Johnnie, and stood up so that the whole class could see him. “Mary had a little lamb, it had a funny grunt, it put its nose up Mary’s clothes, and sniffed around her…… do you want poetry or prose, Miss?”

“Oh, mother of God,” said the teacher, beside herself with panic, “prose please Johnnie, prose!”

“Alright, Miss,” said Johnnie, not in the least put out, “arsehole.”

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Professor Albrecht von Apfel Struedel and the inmate

When the new wing of a prestigous lunatic asylum for the very rich was opened, the eminent Professor Albrecht von Apfel Struedel was formally invited to give the auspicious occasion the mark of great respectability by consenting to address the honoured guests. Being an enthusiast of gardens he had arrived early rather than punctually so that he might take in a tour of the grounds, which he had heard were magnificent. Being assured that such would be no trouble whatsoever, after his guide had shown him the facilities, he set off in the direction of the horticultural delights he was so eager to see.

At length, having rambled through arbours and orchards, dells and ferneries, he came upon an academic looking fellow sitting on a park bench. He introduced himself and asked “Are you a doctor here, or have you come for the opening?”

“Neither, actually.”

“Oh, I see,” said the professor.

“No, I’m here because of my theory,” said the man, and he pulled at a beard that was patently not there, a useless gesture but one which gave him an air of having encapsulated his entire situation.

“Oh,” said the professor again. “You interest me more and more. What is your theory?”

“Well,” said the man, and shot a glance at the professor, “it’s probably better illustrated than explained…..” and at that he appeared to rummage around in his pockets, at last holding in his hand the biggest spider the professor had ever seen.

The man placed the spider on his left hand and held out his arm, and with the other he waggled his finger and said, with great portent, “Observe.”

Turning now to the spider, which appeared to be awaiting commands, he roared “Forward, march!” The spider, suddenly galvanised into action, marched briskly towards the man’s shoulder, at which point the man roared again “Halt!”

The spider was obedient to a fault, stopping just short of the man’s neck, and Professor Albrecht von Apfel Struedel was completely amazed. Mouth open and eyes boggling he watched as the man shouted “About face!” and the spider rapidly executed the order, standing at attention once more until the man again yelled “Forward, march!” and finally, the spider reaching the man’s hand, “Halt!”

“My God,” spluttered the professor, “You have this… this…. capability and they incarcerate you?!”

“No, no,” said the man, “we haven’t gotten to my theory yet.”

“Of course,” said the professor, “please continue.”

The man, encouraged by the other’s interest and keen attention, turned back to the spider, and picking it up began to pull off each one of its legs, and with great ceremony replaced the legless carcass on his hand. “Forward, march!” he yelled again. No result. “Forward, march!!” he screamed. He looked at the professor, and with narrowed eyes, the spider remaining still on his outstretched hand, he nearly whispered, “This,” and then he paused for maximum effect,  “is my theory. You pull out their legs and the beggars go deaf.”

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The seeker and the master

A man left his life in the city, having quit his executive career in midstream, bid his wife sell everything they had to divide amongst her and their children, and began a journey of several years seeking the answer to just one question. It seemed to him that his soul would never find rest until he knew the answer; that his life would have been a meaningless pursuit of transitory experiences if at his death he hadn’t gained the knowledge he so desperately sought.

His journey took him to many lands and put him at the feet of many learned sages, but his soul had not been satisfied by what any of them had said, and on the point of losing all hope, an inquiry in a remote village yielded the prospect of success. “There’s a place deep inside that mountain,” said a very old woman indicating with a crooked finger, “where they say the master dwells who knows all things.”

His heart nearly leapt out of his chest as he recognised his great good fortune, and over the next two days he rested, while the old woman packed for him the necessary supplies for a journey into the heart of darkness. Having attained the cave mouth he set forth with his blazing torch, moving and resting, making rough camp when he had need, and after what must have been several days he perceived in the black distance the faintest illumination. Approaching now with caution, lest it turn out to be merely a figment of his imagination, he soon could discern what appeared to be a pillar of cloth, and on closer scrutiny realised with awe that he was gazing at the figure of a terribly ancient man, who appeared to be so deeply in meditation as to seem like statuary.

He was just about to cough politely when the old, old man slowly raised his hand, indicating that he hadn’t yet finished his meditations, and the traveler set down his things to sit and wait. Many hours passed until finally the old man’s eyes opened, and with an expression of what appeared to be the greatest beneficence inquired into the man’s quest. “I have traveled the world seeking the answer to my question,” he replied, “and it is this: what is life?”

“It is a good question, the only question.” said the ancient, and with that he raised his arms and let them slowly fall as though scattering flower petals, and with joy announced, “Life is a fountain.”

“Life is a fountain?” said the traveler, not without a note of disappointment. The old man, his face creasing into the very picture of doubt, turned tortured eyes upon his visitor and said “Well, isn’t it?

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The mouse and the canary

A disheveled man in a great coat shambled into a well frequented bar and, taking the bartender aside, proposed a little performance in lieu of payment for a double whiskey.

“Depends on the show,” said the bartender. “Whaddya got?”

The man pulled out of his inside breast pocket a miniature piano and placed it carefully on the bar. Returning to the same pocket he delicately removed a tiny piano stool which he put nicely before the piano. He then delved into another pocket producing a mouse which appeared to have been woken from sleep, and  put it upon the stool. At this point all eyes were riveted on the preparations, the mouse looked enquiringly up at his master, and the man nodded his head.

The mouse launched into the opening bars of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto and the entire house was enraptured. At the end of the performance all patrons gave the mouse a rousing ovation and the bartender, rightfully discerning something more than one mere whiskey might be in order, opened a new bottle of Dimple, caught up a sturdy tumbler, and passed them reverentially over the bar.

“That’s not all,” said the man in the fraying great coat, and with these words he put his hand into a deep inside pocket while the patrons held their breath. A tiny cage was soon revealed, and in it, perched happily on its little bough, was the most vivid yellow canary anyone had ever seen.

The man coaxed the bird from its perch and it obediently hopped onto his finger, whereupon he then put it on the piano, nodded to the musicians, and the mouse accompanied the canary’s perfectly rendered Nessun Dorma from Turandot by Giacomo Puccini. There was scarcely a dry eye in the house.

A distinguished looking gentleman who had been sitting nearly paralysed with amazement was suddenly on his feet, and with words stuttered by excitement demanded to know what ransom the man might accept for the sublime singing canary.

“I couldn’t part with that bird for less than a million dollars.”

“My dear man you have yourself a deal,” said the greying gentleman as he pulled out his pocket book. “And to whom do I have the honour of making out this cheque?”

Formalities observed, the canary was returned to its cage, and the transaction effected. The proud new owner, cage held aloft with canary bouncing on its bough, jubilantly swept out of the room, hummed strains of Nessun Dorma wafting in his wake.

“What did you do that for?” demanded the bartender. “You could have sold that canary for billions!”

The man tapped the side of his nose, winking. “Doesn’t matter,” he said, “The mouse is a ventriloquist.”

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