Comedy Tonight

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, this title of this post is not Lambert-style light irony, alluding to a farce about the collapse of the Roman empire (written — I was today years old when I learned this, go figure — by Stephen Sondheim). Rather, I thought that after the multi-course extravaganza of bad news, bad faith… well, I’m at a loss, let’s to to the algos–

— but there are no bad children in my life, so good! Better than expected! “Multi-course extravaganza,” I say, requiring a palate cleanser, “a neutral-flavored food or drink that removes food residue from the tongue allowing one to more accurately assess a new flavor” (of bullshit, no doubt, since realism springs eternal).

It occurred to me that jokes, whether one-liners or sketches, would be one such residue-cleaning device. Also, laughter is good for stress and the immune system. And so I’ve aggregated some humor. I hope the jokes don’t bomb, and I hope, whether they do or not, you will contribute your own!

* * *

Beginning at the beginning with a bartender joke:

A bartender says, “We don’t serve time travelers in here!”

A time traveler walks into a bar.

Swap in a pet store:

If there’s a comedy vertical with a rich vein of jokes on the Twitter, I didn’t find it:

Kids find kid jokes funny:

Another kid joke, but an older kid:

NFT-adjacent, so horridly commoditized in some way….

Moving to stand-up and video, more one-liners:

There are many duck jokes, this is Mitch Hedberg’s:

I really wanted to find some Phyllis Diller, but I couldn’t find anything suitable:

“Mother Theresa’s old formal!” 1984. at the end of feminism’s second wave.

Bob Newhard, light as soufflé:

Not all comedy is light:

I wonder if these jokes land, today. They’re very Freudian, very ’50s. Perhaps the family has completely changed?

Louis CK on race relations. Oh my, the punchline:

Despite Louis CK’s shall we say unorthodox disgusting and creepy views on the accumulation of social capital from unconsenting associates in his field, I still think this is a great sketch and far more worthwhile than anything his detractors could produce. (It’s sad that great artists aren’t always nice people.) “Give them some time to be cranky” is something I could take to heart (as opposed to kicking sideways, or down).

Richard Prior [a bit NSFW]:

Mudbone is a recurring Pryor character. Mudbone’s accent, oddly, brought Bert and I to mind:

And ending on the dryest possible note, a new episode of Bob & Ray’s “Garish Summit” surfaces:

* * *

I hope your palate is at least refreshed, if not cleansed. This being Naked Capitalism, we probably have some stand-up comedians in the readership; if so, I wonder what y’all think. I have tended to think of comedy and humor as timeless. But doing this aggregation, which has material from when I was a teenager all the way to today really brought home to me how embedded in time comedy really is. If there is a good history of comedy, I should go read it. “It’s a joke!” Well, yes.

Anyhow, the main purpose of this post was to give some laughs to the readership, and if any of you laughed, I’m happy. Also, please feel free to add jokes and sketches to the comments!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    Louis CK def cleansed my palate on this beautiful sunny day in New Orleans.

    Comedy thread is a brilliant idea, Lambert!

    Now, on to Pryor!

      1. hunkerdown

        Are you sure that link is correct? For me it goes to an explainer on Federal criminal judiciary strategy.


    1. Randall Flagg

      The man was a genius and how desperately we could use his thoughts today to cut through all the astounding amount of BS floating around today.
      “Some say the glass is half full, some say it’s half empty. I see an improperly sized container.” Or words to that effect. RIP Mr.Carlin

  2. Hepativore

    This is an episode of the Galloping Gourmet, and the host, Graham Kerr, was as much of a comedian as he was a chef. He would also drink on the air and at the end of each episode he was visibly half-in-the-bag. I am not sure if things are more lax in the UK, or if things were different back in the late-1960’s/early-1970’s but Graham Kerr was hysterical.

    Sadly, he got all weird and new agey since the 1980’s as well as becoming a strict teetotaler and he also completely lost his sense of humor since then.

      1. Hepativore

        It was on when I was in High School as well, during the late-90’s/early 2000’s. They used to have the reruns on the Food Network channel when it was still called Food TV.

  3. clarky90

    A teaching story I learned as a schoolboy in Southern Ohio, beside the mighty Ohio River…..

    “Hey Leroy, what are those little round pills?

    Leroy “They are Smartening Pills. They make you smarter!”

    “Can I have some?”

    Leroy “Sure.”

    Eating a few…..”Yuk, they taste like goat turds!”

    Leroy…. “They are goat turds! See, you are much smarter already!.”

  4. NotTimothyGeithner

    Arch Manning visited UVA this friday.

    I haven’t figured out the joke yet, but I’ve been working on it for 48 hours. I can’t believe we are relevant enough to get a visit.

    1. amechania

      Robbie Roadsteamer (Rob Potolyo irl) has been crushing it making ironic comments on conservative facebook. Sorta like Zappa-energy meets Wukuchumi’s laconic rhyming style.

      “The Republican Summer of Love”

      Truely an acquired taste, and half of the fun is watching people fail to realize he is joking.

      Also, a real song by this comedy maniac. 60 views. Phew.

      “Fall from that dream”

      Sometimes, you’re a genre-breaking mock-rocker and right as you succeed you go bald and the radio station goes outta business.

      *edit* forgot to make a nepotism joke. I’m sure it’s out there.

  5. DJG, Reality Czar

    Nichols + May = as fresh as ever.

    Freud? No. Jung. It’s the Jewish-Mediterranean Mother Paradigm. The Mother Goddess with a Telephone.

    The current manifestation and its avatar would be Sebastian Maniscalco. Highly recommended.

  6. Chuck Harris

    Thanks Lambert for the comedy relief. I appreciate the older comedians. Used to like Colbert and some of the teevee comedy, but nowdays I don’t find them funny.
    Anyhow here’s a joke:
    Why do anarchists only drink herbal tea?
    Because proper tea is theft.

  7. tindrum

    Two of my favourite jokes…

    Green men make me cross.

    God said to John, come forth and win eternal life, but John came fifth and won a toaster.

    1. wilroncanada

      Here are a couple from a philosophy book:
      Three engineers were arguing about what kind of engineer the creator was.
      He must have been a mechanical engineer; look how perfectly all our joints fit and work together.
      No. They wouldn’t work if he weren’t an electrical engineer. Every joint and every internal movement is conducted through electrical impulses.
      But only a civil engineer would put a toxic waste pipe through a recreation area.

      God gave Adam and Eve a choice. He asked, “Who wants to be able to pee standing up?’
      “Me, me me me,” Adam jumped in right away.
      So God said, “Okay. So, Eve, I guess you’re stuck with the consolation prize. You get to have multiple orgasms.?

      The book, Plato and A platypus Walk into a Bar..

    2. John Zelnicker

      When I was in high school in the late 60’s I had a written copy of a long joke that I can only remember the beginning of:

      The Lord called David to come forth, but he slipped on a camel turd and came fifth…

      It mostly degenerated from there and I have sorely wished for the past 50 years that I could find a copy somewhere.

  8. Jeff W

    The classic Steven Wright line:

    “I have a large seashell collection, which I keep scattered on beaches all over the world.”

    I’ve always liked this comment by “alexito” in the Guardian (“Have we literally broken the English language?” 13 August 2013):

    “I like to bait pedants by telling them that the coastal promontory near my home is littorally outstanding.”

    1. jimmy cc

      i always liked:

      “I am against protesting, I just haven’t found a way to express it yet.”

      dry but funny imo

  9. Steve Moran

    Thanks for this!! My immigrant father (b. 1921), under his professional name, WAS a comedian. In private life, he was family-oriented and introverted.

    The name professional comedians apply to civilian constant jokers is “table comic.”

    The work of the great artists here made me a little melancholy. By the end of his life, I think my father’s style of humor had become too gentle and humane for this country.

    Or maybe it’s just that I myself have gotten old.

    We have no TV. A couple of years ago, my wife was briefly in the hospital for something minor. The putative comedy blasting from her room’s TV didn’t even make sense to her.

    But while I’m here, THANK YOU!! to all the NC community, for everything, humor included, for years now. And that’s no joke.

  10. Alice X


    It has been reported recently that medical scientists are experimenting on lawyers rather than rats as there are somethings that even rats won’t do.

    1. Philip Ebersole

      Other reasons for experimenting on lawyers rather than rats:

      Some of the laboratory staff empathize with the rats.

      Someday the world may run out of rats.

    1. ambrit

      I am virtually certain that nowadays, that would be the E-state. (Another “streaming consciousness” joke.)

  11. ChrisPacific

    Regarding the lead-in, I have fond memories of hopping on a bus in high school to watch a production of ‘Forum’ by one of the other schools in the region. It was excellent – very funny, just risque enough to feel transgressive for high schoolers, and a great vehicle for some very talented young actors. I’m sure a good teacher could have worked in some related lessons about the history and romanticization of slavery, for example.

    Unfortunately it started late for some reason and we had to skip the last 20-30 minutes to catch our bus home, so I have yet to see the ending. Even so it was a lot of fun.

  12. SOMK

    Thanks, favourite clean joke is probably the following…

    “Doctor Doctor I can’t feel my legs!”

    “That’s okay, we cut off your hands.”

    Anyway, given he fairly recently passed, Norm McDonald (probably the only SNL alumni alongside Kaufmann worthy of the term ‘genius’) deserves some love it’s a hell of a youtube rabbit hole on a rainy day.

    And for someone the American readership are unlikely to be familiar Scottish comedian Brian Limond (especially his sketch show Limmy) is worth a gander

  13. Randy

    In the early days of the internet I used to frequent a forum called the Silicon Investor and they had a sub forum called Jokes. Here’s one that might not be suitable for a family blog given that it is about Russians and then there is the punch line. But here it is and I’ll let the mods sort it out.

    A Russian is strolling down the street in Moscow and
    kicks a bottle laying in the street. Suddenly out of
    the bottle comes a genie. The Russian is stunned and
    the Genie says, “Hello Master, I will grant you one
    wish, anything that you want.”
    The Russian begins thinking, “Well I really like
    drinking vodka.” Finally the Russian says, “I wish to
    drink vodka whenever I want, so make me piss vodka.”
    The Genie grants him his wish. When the Russian gets
    home he gets a glass out of the cupboard and pisses
    into it. He looks at the glass and it’s clear. Looks
    like vodka. Then he smells the liquid. Smells like
    vodka. So he takes a taste and it is the best vodka
    that he has ever tasted.
    The Russian yells to his wife, “Natasha, Natasha, come
    She comes running down the hall and the Russian takes
    another glass out of the cupboard and pisses into it.
    He tells her to drink, that it is vodka. Natasha is
    reluctant but goes ahead and takes a sip. It is the
    best vodka that she has ever tasted. The two drink and
    party all night.
    The next night the Russian comes home from work and
    tells his wife to get two glasses out of the cupboard.
    He proceeds to piss in the two glasses. The result is
    the same, the vodka is excellent and the couple drink
    until the sun comes up.
    Finally, Friday night comes and the Russian tells his
    wife to grab one glass from the cupboard and we will
    drink vodka. She gets the glass but asks him “Boris,
    why do we only need one glass?” Boris raises the glass
    and says, “Because tonight my love, you drink from the

    1. Norm de plume

      A friend years ago sent me 3 pages of Soviet-era jokes under the heading ‘Laughter in the Dark’. The list was based on one the CIA had compiled; Reagan was a fan apparently. It was added to over the years. Here are a few:

      President Boris Yeltsin addresses the nation: “For three years, our nation was on the edge of a precipice. Now, finally, it takes a step forward!”

      Petrov: “I hear on the radio that we are producing large quantities of meat, milk and butter. Yet my refrigerator is always empty. What shall I do?”
      Ivanov: “Plug your refrigerator directly into your radio.”

      “Dear Comrade Editor: I am mixed up. I read in one political textbook that when full Communism arrives we will have no money. But then in another textbook, I read that we will have money. What is right and what is wrong?”
      “Dear Comrade Reader: Both books are correct. Under Communism some people will have money and some will not”

      Why do the KGB go about in threes?’ ‘Well, one of them can read, and one can write. The third one is there to keep an eye on the two intellectuals!

      Q: Is it true that the Soviet Union is most progressive country in the world?
      A: Of course! Life was already better yesterday than it’s going to be tomorrow!

      “My wife has been going to cooking school for three years.” / “She must really cook well by now!” / “No, so far they’ve only got as far as the bit about the Twentieth CPSU Congress.”

      In biology class, the teacher draws a cucumber on the blackboard: “Children, could someone tell me what is this?” / Vovochka raises his hand: “It’s a dick, Marivanna!” The teacher bursts into tears and runs out. / Shortly, the principal rushes in: “All right, what did you do now? Which one of you brought Maria Ivanovna to tears? And who the hell drew that dick on the blackboard?”

      A man walks into a shop and asks, “You wouldn’t have any fish, would you?”. The shop assistant replies, “You’ve got the wrong shop; this is the butcher’s: we don’t have any meat. The shop with no fish is next door’

      Q: Which is more useful – newspapers or television? A: ‘Newspapers, of course. You can’t wipe your ass with a TV’

      Nurse, where are we going?” / “To the morgue.”/ “But I haven’t died yet!”/ “Well, we haven’t arrived yet.”


      After sending this I am, to atone, going to remove all the Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky from my playlist and pour out the rest of my bottle of Russian Standard, so that my virtue-signalling software keeps working…

  14. britzklieg

    the comic genius of Tom Lehrer, even when he wasn’t singing his songs: “There are some in this world who do not love their fellow human beings, and I hate people like that!”

    1. ChrisPacific

      I had a friend with an interest in the history of college fight songs who spent many happy hours chasing down the original versions (before they got turned into drinking songs and the original words forgotten). Somehow he ran across ‘Fight Fiercely, Harvard’ without realizing it was a Tom Lehrer parody, and spent some time speculating on whether it was genuine. It’s right on that pivot point of almost-plausibility where you want a parody to land.

  15. Steve Moran

    Lambert, and everyone: Although my father did some stand-up, he came up in the great age of radio comedy: Fred Allen, Jack Benny, Edgar Bergen, and others.

    As a result, my father’s main act was that of a “comedy ventriloquist.” As a young boy, he sent away for a ventriloquist’s dummy. When it arrived, it baffled my (Serbian) paternal grandparents. To them, it looked like a doll.

    Stage ventriloquism in those days was less about stand-alone jokes than about the interplay berween the ventriloquist, sometimes an urbane character like Bergen (a kind, educated man who wished my father well), and the “dummy,” a representative of Freud’s id.

    One of my father’s routines would end with my father struggling to put the dummy back in its suitcase, with the dummy (manipulated of course by my father) constantly fighting, popping its head up to exchange zingers with audience members.

    Looking back across the years, I suppose one could say that the “message” of my father’s gentle comedy, if I may so dignify it, was that we’re all alike in having our lizard-brain impulses, but that in a good society, these impulses can be contained, and can revitalize the social order.

    Uh, SORRY how pretentious that sounds!!

    But I’m now looking back on my childhood from the other side of a literary education, on scholarship, that would have eminently qualified me to inherit three hundred acres of Wiltshire.

    (In reality, I mostly taught Basic Expository Writing and some literature to young people in the inner city.)

    But I think I’m on to something.

    I think that tragedy (shaking one’s fist at the sky) falls in less well with socialism (the real socialism, the grail) than comedy.

    My father, not formally educated, on-stage could adopt a dignified persona, particularly after his hair became silver-white. Answering my father back, his dummy (“Rawhide,” an old prospector, now safe in his suitcase under our bed here) spoke for all of us–the kid, the worker, the underdog–sticking up for our rights against the capitalist, the “gentleman,” and the cop.

    If you saw “A Hard Day’s Night,” you’ll probably remember the scene where the Beatles try to convince that citizen (“There’s more of us than there are of you”) on that train that they’re all traveling on that they should be allowed to play their radio.

    It may be Ringo who says to this gent: “Up the workers! And all that.”

    Fraternally, respectfully, Steve Moran

  16. Stick'em

    Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He’s not breathing and his eyes are glazed over. So the other hunter whips out his cell phone and calls 911.

    “I think my friend is dead!” he yells frantically. “What should I do?”

    The 911 dispatcher responds, “Remain calm. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.”

    Silence… then a loud “BANG!”

    Back on the phone, the hunter asks, “Okay, now what?”

  17. flora

    Thanks for the “Bob and Ray” link. so good.

    “…lies unconscious in the town’s most fashionable hospital.”

  18. dk

    My son is part of WritingTwitter and JokeTwitter. They get together in direct message chat rooms and help each other refine their material. Then they retweet and amplify each other’s best work.

    Imo humor can strengthen camaraderie and resolve, and even aid analysis, but it can also calcify existing ideas and prejudice, and tends to in-class signalling. I’m now completely burnt out on humor and the normalization and trivialization it often hinges on, and can’t laugh at anything anymore. Caveat emptor.

  19. ambrit

    Just random notes.
    The googly characature in the upper left hand corner of the Bob and Ray YouTube clip looks suspiciously like an old Spike Milligan pencil sketch. I seem to remember seeing it in one of Milligan’s “Picture Books.” Going even further down this rabbit hole, I would imagine that this is Milligan’s rendition of the character Eccles from The Goon Show.
    Now, The Goons are definitely an acquired taste, but tasty they are indeed.
    In the spirit of our New and Improved Pandemic Times, I herewith interject an old HIV joke told to me by a medical student way back in the mists of pre-history. (Pre history refers to any time period antecedent to the present Meme Cycle, or ‘Official Narrative.’)
    Q: What are the AMA approved foods for HIV patients?
    A: Pizza and pancakes. They fit under the door easiest.
    Now, with our decades of experience of Neoliberal Public Health, the latest Deadly Disease Sufferers can order out for the Flat Foods. Delivery will be in the traditional manner.
    [It says something profound that even a bastion of rationality and, dare I say it, sanity, as Naked Capitalism feels the need to ‘experience’ comedy relief.]
    Stay something or other!

  20. bassmule

    Impressionist jokes:

    What did the French locomotive engineer say when his train derailed?


    What happens when the cat gets into you wallet?

    Claude Monet

    1. ambrit

      Then there was the weekly Connect the Dots feature in the newspaper comics page by the team of Suerat et Signac.

  21. ddt

    Kid joke… Also referencing some of Lambert’s introductory comments.

    What’s brown and sticky?

    A stick.

  22. Sardonia

    “911. Can I help you?”
    “Yes, my friend is having a heart attack. Send an ambulance!!”
    “What’s your location?”
    “The 400 block of Washtenaw!”
    “Can you spell that?”
    (Hesitates) “Let me call you right back – I’ll drag him over to Pine.”

  23. Wukchumni

    I prefer my humor served blackened in print, as messing around with words is more of a visual than heard mentality.

    That said though, I mourn for the spoken joke-which the internet done killed, as we tend to read comedy not listen to it. There is little chance of messing up the timing or delivery of a written joke online, but that’s what made it fun, you were performing for friends.

  24. redleg

    What’s the difference between a farmer and an electrician?

    The electrician doesn’t think he’s a farmer.

  25. Joe

    The pacing of the Bob Newheart set is so slow. It took him almost a full minute just to set up the joke.

    Unbelievable when you watch old TV how much patience audiences used to have.

  26. JustAnotherVolunteer

    I had two friends in the early days of New Vaudeville who would always trade just the punchlines from old shaggy dog stories to much shared hilarity. Very opaque if you didn’t know the long versions but fun to watch.

    A green brick
    It’s a long way to tip a rarie
    Bear foot boy with Tigue of Chan

    I favor the side slip style jokes myself: Do you know why mice have such small balls?

    Not very many of them know how to dance.

  27. Alex Cox

    A protestant pastor, a catholic priest, and a rabbi are discussing the moment at which life begins.
    ‘At birth’ says the pastor.
    ‘At conception’ says the priest.
    They turn to the rabbi and ask him when life begins.
    ‘When the children leave home and the dog dies.’

  28. vegeholic

    Purloined from Garrison Keillor:
    Did you hear about the guy who fell into the upholstery machine?


    He’s completely recovered.

  29. Greg S

    For the mathematically inclined – from my first calculus instructor:

    What is the derivative of HiHo?

    Hi d Ho plus Ho d Hi

  30. Jeremy Grimm

    An old NPR joke: A string walks into a bar to order a drink. The bartender comes over yelling, “Get outta here! We don’t serve strings in this bar!” and roughly tosses the string out onto the sidewalk. Undeterred, the string brushes himself off, ties himself into a knot, and messes up his hair. He walks back into the bar. The bartender looks over, “Say, aren’t you that string I just tossed outta here?” Looking insulted, the string replies, “String, Sir!? I’m afraid not.”

  31. Martin Oline

    I saw Walter at the White House today making a speech about gun control.
    I watched carefully but didn’t see Jeff Dunbar anywhere.
    How does he do It?

  32. PuntaPete

    From The Economist (Many years ago)

    The difference between heaven and hell:

    In heaven the cooks are French, the police are English, the mechanics are German, the lovers are Italian and it’s all organized by the Swiss.

    But in hell the cooks are English, the police are German, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss and it’s all organized by the Italians!

  33. Eclair

    Lambert, a belated thank-you for the comedy clips! How did you know that this was exactly what we needed at this point? I had a distressing blood-pressure spike on Sunday, a combination of a stressful week of packing and cleaning (tiny violin playing here for my white middle-class problems), an unrelenting diet of NPR war propaganda for three days of driving (I did, mostly, persuade my husband to turn down the volume), and the higher altitude of Denver (I always forget to drink enough water!)

    But, I checked in to NC (there might be some good news!) and found your post. Two blissful hours of laughing out loud followed, and bp subsided. I even dug up some old Tracy Ullman clips, where she impersonates Nicola Sturgeon (every time NS refers to ‘wee Mary’ I crack up) and Angela Merkel (mein Chancellorette!)

    Every so often I think it would be better if I simply ignored all news, all the time and lived in blissful ignorance of The World. Like the Amish.

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