joke #3

(The following is a one-act play based on an incident in the life of Abraham Lincoln. The incident may or may not be true. The point is I was tired when I wrote it.)

(Lincoln with boyish eagerness beckons George Jennings, his press secretary, into the room.)

Jennings: Mr. Lincoln, you sent for me?

Lincoln: Yes, Jennings. Come in. Sit down.

Jennings: Yes, Mr. President?

Lincoln: (Unable to suppress a grin.)

I want to discuss an idea.

Jennings: Of course, sir.

Lincoln: Next time we have a conference for the gentlemen of the press . . .

Jennings: Yessir . . . ?

Lincoln: When I take questions . . .

Jennings: Yes, Mr. President . . . ?

Lincoln: You raise your hand and ask me: Mr. President, how long do you think a man's legs should be?

Jennings: Pardon me?

Lincoln: You ask me: how long do I think a man's legs should be?

Jennings: May I ask why, sir?

Lincoln: Why? Because I have a very good answer.

Jennings: You do?

Lincoln: Long enough to reach the ground.

Jennings: Excuse me?

Lincoln: Long enough to reach the ground. That's the answer! Get it? How long do you think a man's legs should be? Long enough to reach the ground!

Jennings: I see.

Lincoln: You don't think it's funny?

Jennings: May I be frank, Mr. President?

Lincoln: (Annoyed)

Well, I got a big laugh with it today.

Jennings: Really?

Lincoln: Absolutely. I was with the cabinet and some friends and a man asked it and I shot back that answer and the whole room broke up.

Jennings: May I ask, Mr. Lincoln, in what context did he ask it?

Lincoln: Pardon me?

Jennings: Were you discussing anatomy? Was the man a surgeon or a sculptor?

Lincoln: Why-er-no-I-I-don't think so. No. A simple farmer, I believe.

Jennings: Well, why did he want to know?

Lincoln: Well, I don't know. All I know is he was someone who had requested an audience with me urgently . . .

Jennings: (Concerned)

I see.

Lincoln: What is it, Jennings, you look pale?

Jennings: It is a rather odd question.

Lincoln: Yes, but I got a laugh off it. It was a quick answer.

Jennings: No one's denying that, Mr. Lincoln.

Lincoln: A big laugh. The whole cabinet just broke up.

Jennings: And then did the man say anything?

Lincoln: He said thank you and left.

Jennings: You never asked why he wanted to know?

Lincoln: If you must know, I was too pleased with my answer. Long enough to reach the ground. It came out so fast. I didn't hesitate.

Jennings: I know, I know. It's just, well, this whole thing's got me worried.

from "
The Query" by Woody Allen



joke #2

Some people say they like to do it “doggy-style.”

I like to do it “human-style.”

That's when I have sex with my dog while she's lying on her back.

(A friend of mine who's a comic heard that joke from
another comic.)



joke #1

In a Hasidic village, so the story goes, Jews were sitting together in a shabby inn one Sabbath evening. They were all local people, with the exception of one person no one knew, a very poor, ragged man who was squatting in a dark corner at the back of the room. All sorts of things were discussed, and then it was suggested that everyone should tell what wish he would make if one were granted him. One man wanted money; another wished for a son-in-law; a third dreamed of a new carpenter's bench; and so everyone spoke in turn. After they had finished, only the beggar in his dark corner was left. Reluctantly and hesitantly he answered the question. "I wish I were a powerful king reigning over a big country. Then, some night while I was asleep in my palace, an enemy would invade my country, and by dawn his horsemen would penetrate to my castle and meet with no resistance. Roused from my sleep, I wouldn't have time even to dress and I would have to flee in my shirt. Rushing over hill and dale and through forests day and night, I would finally arrive safely right here at the bench in this corner. This is my wish." The others exchanged uncomprehending glances. "And what good would this wish have done you?" someone asked. "I'd have a shirt," was the answer.

Walter Benjamin
"Franz Kafka: On the Tenth Anniversary of His Death"

“In ‘Join Or Die,’ I paint myself having sex with the Presidents of the United States in chronological order.”

Justine Lai, “Join or Die”


Norman Mailer + Jean-Luc Godard

At the 1985 Cannes Film Festival, Godard approached Menahem Golan, of Cannon Films, and asked him to produce a film of "King Lear." Golan agreed, and wrote out a contract on a napkin from the bar where they were meeting, adding one clause: the script would be written by Norman Mailer. Godard's first move was to sign Orson Welles as an actor, or "guide"; but after Welles died later that year Godard came up with another idea: Mailer himself would play King Lear, and his daughter Kate, an actress, would play Cordelia.

"I finally decided that the only way to do a modern 'King Lear'—because that was what Menahem Golan wanted—was to make him a Mafia godfather," Mailer said. "I couldn't conceive of anyone else in my range of understanding who would disown a daughter for refusing to compliment him. So I turned it into a script I called 'Don Learo' "—pronounced "lay-AH-ro"—"which to my knowledge Godard never looked at." Mailer shouldn't have been surprised, inasmuch as Godard hadn't read Shakespeare's play, either. Instead, Godard admitted, he watched all the available filmed versions of it: "I had a vague idea that there was this girl who says, 'Nothing,' and that was enough."

Although Godard had intended to make the film near Mailer's house in Provincetown, he suddenly summoned Norman and Kate Mailer to Switzerland. "When we got there, to the hotel, he wanted to start shooting right away, and so he started giving me lines, and I was hardly playing King Lear. He said, 'You will be Norman Mailer in this.' And then he gave me some lines, and they were really, by any comfortable measure, dreadful. They would be lines like, I'd pick up the phone and I'd say, 'Kate, Kate, you must come down immediately, I have just finished the script, it is superb'—stuff like that. He was shooting, and we were getting some dreadful stuff. . . . I said to him, 'Look, I really can't say these lines. If you give me another name than Norman Mailer, I'll say anything you write for me, but if I'm going to be speaking in my own name, then I've got to write the lines, or at least I've got to be consulted on the lines.' So he was very annoyed and he said, 'That's the end of shooting for the day.' "

Godard conceded that the difficulties in their relationship stemmed in part from his way of working ("I don't know very well what I want to do, so he couldn't really have a discussion about it. He had nothing to do but obey, to have confidence in me"), but he also believes that Mailer was hostile to his vision of the film, which was supposed to be like "reportage" of Mailer's relationship with his daughter. "When he saw that he was going to have to talk about himself and his family, it was all over, in a quarter hour," Godard told me. "And that's the little piece that stayed in the film, but he left the next day" (a mutual decision, according to Mailer). To a journalist from Le Monde who visited the set, Godard added one fillip: "He left, being unable, he said, 'to see himself represented in a situation of incest.' " When I mentioned this to Mailer, he asked me, "Is it a reasonable demand to ask someone to, in their own name, play that they have an incestuous relationship to their daughter?"

After Mailer quit, Godard asked Rod Steiger, Lee Marvin, and Richard Nixon to play the part; all three turned him down.

Richard Brody
"An Exile in Paradise"



Anna Karina + Jean-Luc Godard

Godard and Anna Karina married in 1961. Godard would often disappear; later, Karina would learn that he had been out of the country. As she put it, "He told me, 'I'm going out for a pack of corn-paper cigarettes,' and he came back three weeks later." In 1964, Jacques Rivette told a journalist, "He and his wife have achieved perfect harmony in destroying each other." The screenwriter Paul Gegauff described paying a visit to the couple, only to find Godard "stark naked" in a freezing-cold room that had been totally destroyed: "All his clothes and Anna's were lying on the ground in tatters, the sleeves slashed with a razor, in a mess of wine and broken glass. . . . I noticed Anna on a sort of dais in the far corner of the room, also quite naked. . . . 'I'd offer you a glass of something,' he said, 'only there aren't any glasses left.' Then: 'Go and buy us a couple of raincoats so that we can go out.' "

Richard Brody
"An Exile in Paradise"



popular fiction

The state of my health condemns me to reading novels. I picked up a book by Edgar Wallace for the first time. So far as I know he is one of the most popular authors in America and England. The adventures are piled on without any art at all, like police records laid one on top of the other. Not for a single moment did I feel any excitement, interest, or even simple curiosity. While reading the book you have a feeling as if out of boredom, for lack of anything better to do, you were drumming your fingers on a fly-specked windowpane.

Leon Trotsky
Diary in Exile, 1935


'Speak up,' Maria chirped. 'What can I do for you?'

'Well, you see doctor,' John blurted, 'I think I'm a nutter!'

'You think that you're mad?' Walker repeated in disbelief.

'Yeah,' Hodges confessed. 'I'm a fuckin' loony!'

'What makes you think you're mentally disturbed?' Maria enquired.

'Whenever I go out,' Hodges elaborated, 'I think people are following me. Sometimes I beat up suits just for looking at me. But the worst thing is jazz music, whenever I hear it I go fucking mental, can't control myself at all. If something isn't done about it, I might kill somebody. All this violence has got completely out of hand.'

Stewart Home, Slow Death


opening lines

Frederick J. Frenger, Jr., a blithe psychopath from California, asked the flight attendant in first class for another glass of champagne and some writing materials. She brought him a cold half-bottle, uncorked it and left it with him, and returned a few moments later with some Pan Am writing paper and a white ball point pen. For the next hour, as he sipped champagne, Freddy practiced writing the signatures of Claude L. Bytell, Ramon Mendez, and Herman T. Gotlieb.

Miami Blues
Charles Willeford