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Garrison, This morning's edition of

June 13, 2005 |

This morning's edition of the New York Times declared The Joke dead. The consensus among comedians they interviewed was that joke-tellers are not welcome in their profession. As perhaps the sole remaining perpetuator of jokes, how does this make you feel? Isolated or important?

Charles Phipps
Columbia, SC

Mr. Phipps, to hear that the New York Times declares the joke to be dead is sort of a joke, like Jerry Falwell announcing that the sonnet is passť or Michael Jackson deciding that fly fishing is on the wane. When did we look to the Times for humor? The joke is firmly fixed in everyday grassroots American life and it never depended on professional comedians. Knock-knock jokes, for example. I never heard them on TV ever, but they're a lovely little genre, all about slightly off-kilter puns —

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Eskimo Christians.
Eskimo Christians who?
Eskimo Christians and I'll tell you no lies.

It's a small device for communicating a frisson of joyful pleasure from one person to another. The Times writer doesn't have a clue.

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