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© Copyright 2001, Jim Loy
I bought a truly dreary joke book at a used book store. Let's look at a few of the jokes, and see if they can be improved. To make the improvements a little funnier, to not give away their punch lines, I will give the improved versions first:
An ancestor of mine occupied the chair of Applied Electronics at one of our public institutions. He was electrocuted at Sing Sing.
Original: "I have a very distasteful job," complained the genealogist, "I have been employed by Mrs. Richey to look up her family tree, and it will be my unpleasant duty to inform her that one of her ancestors was electrocuted at Sing Sing."
"Why worry about that? Just tell her the man occupied the chair of applied electricity at one of our public institutions."
The characters of this story bear no resemblance to any persons, living or dead. Wilbur, for example, has five arms and two heads.
Original: An aspiring author sent a manuscript to an editor with a letter which stated, "The characters in this story are purely fictional, and bear no resemblance to any person, living or dead."
A few days later he received his manuscript with the notation: "That's what's wrong with it."
"My former fiance forced me to give up drinking, smoking, womanizing, gambling, and bowling."
"Then why didn't you marry her?"
"After I reformed, I figured I was too good for her."
The original is very similar to that. Instead of "womanizing" it says "dancing." And, instead of "I figured I was too good for her," it says "I decided I could do better," which seems a little lame.
A book store received a book in the mail, with this note: "I am returning the book, 101 Ways to Please a Man. Please credit my account. I didn't realize it was a cook book."
The original said "department store." The buyer sent the note, but not the book. And the joke ended with, "Kindly call for same and credit my account," which was a major anti-climax.
An old man was asked how he had lived to be 100 years old. He replied, "Well, it helps to be born in 1901."
I adjusted the year and rephrased the entire joke. The original had the old man being asked other questions.
A politician said that it was something of a relief that he hadn't been elected. "Now I don't have to keep all those promises."
Original: A real philosopher was the candidate who was defeated in an election and said he was glad he was defeated because he wouldn't have to keep all the promises he had made during his campaign.
A minister and a doctor were talking about one of the doctor's patients. The doctor said, "Poor Thompson. To tell the truth, he needs your help more than mine. The man needs rest. I figure you could put him to sleep."
Original: A minister and a doctor joked with each other about their respective professions. When the minister inquired about the health of an elderly member of his congregation, whom he knew the doctor was attending, the physician put on a very serious mien.
"Poor Thompson," he sighed. "To tell you the truth, he needs your help more than mine."
"Is it that bad?" inquired the minister with concern.
"Yes," replied the doctor, shaking his head. "I've been trying to get him to take a nap every day and he just won't do it."
Intro to my speech: "I understand that in order to learn to speak in public, a person has to repeatedly make a fool of himself. Well, that's why I'm here."
Original: "You have a marvelous gift for oratory," said a reporter to George Bernard Shaw. "How did you develop it?" Replied Shaw: "I learned to speak as men learn to skate or cycle, by doggedly making a fool of myself until I got used to it."
Jim's note: I think that the original is a good joke.
When I think about her, I think about the ocean, because she makes me sick.
Original: Bored girl: "You remind me of the ocean."
Boy-with-a-line: "On account of my being so wild, magnificent, and romantic?"
Gal: "No, because you make me sick."
Jim's note: This joke can be used for other topics: "This book reminds me of the ocean, because it makes me sick." The original punch line does pack some extra punch, similar to having a child or minister say a swear word, which can be funny.
A lawyer fell in love with an actress and wanted to marry her. But he thought that he should be careful, and hired a detective to investigate her. Later, the detective had this to report: "The lady has an excellent reputation. Her past is without blemish. The only hint of scandal is that she has recently been seen in the company of a lawyer."
The original said "businessman" instead of "lawyer," and the punch line called him "of doubtful reputation."
Of course a few of the jokes in this book are excellent:
"Bullfighting is the most popular sport in South America."
"But isn't that revolting?"
"No, that's the second most popular sport."
College is a fountain of knowledge where young people go to drink.
Here is another joke which I improved:
A man was applying for a job, but he was dissatisfied with the deal that he was being offered. "Why, at my old job, they paid for my health insurance and life insurance; and I got profit sharing, paid vacations, big bonuses, and gifts for my birthday. I would still be working there now, if they hadn't gone bankrupt."
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