The Yocks of Yesteryear

    While I am waiting around for customers to make use of my new consulting firm, I would like to establish my claim to be an evaluator of old pop culture things.  There must be plenty of people out there whose grandfather left them a stack of old books, or old newspaper clippings, or old magazines, and needs someone to come in and say “Yeah, those are prime recyclables” or “Do you realize you have a copy of the very first Bazooka Joe joke?”  Buy how would they know that uncle Blogsy knows his way around such stuff?

    So I thought I would just offer some more of my expertise as a student of really old jokes.  I gave been told that I am a specialist in these, even though I have not sought such acclaim.  (This acclaim, if you’ve never heard it, generally comes in the form of groans.  Weird sort if applause, but part of my job is knowing a tribute when I hear it.”

    We went into this just a little in our last outing, when we considered the joke craze which followed General MacArthur’s famous speech.  His quotation of “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away” led to the postcards we examined last time around, dealing with “Old Fishermen Never Die: They Just Smell That Way.”  But this was merely one of many, as pointed out at the time.  We would learn, as the years went by, that “Old Bartenders Never Die; They Just Tap Out”, “Old Pilots Never Die; They Just Move to a Higher Plane,” and even “Joan Crawford never died; She Just Faye Dunaway.”

    This was hardly the only joke craze to sweep the country.  Another one, though it can be traced to Shakespeare if you want to go to those lengths, really hit us at some point during the Great Depression, and has been depressing people ever since.  This was the Knock Knock joke, to which Captain Kangaroo gave a serious boost on his television show.  This requires a person who will play along, doing the second and fourth, or straight lines of such classics as “Knock Knock.  Who’s there?  Little Old lady.  Little Old lady Who?  I didn’t know you could yodel!”  Some of these rise to great narrative power, as in the Captain’s “Knock Knock.  Who’s there?  Ira.  Ira Who?  Ira ceived a gift from sister: it’s a duck that doesn’t quack.”  “Knock Knock.  Who’s there?  Herbert.  Herbert Who?  Well herbertday is tomorrow and I’m gonna give it back.”

    Wikipedia cites the L.N. Becker Company and its 1960s trading cards for nearly bringing on the downfall of the republic with a set of fifty trading cards bearing what they called “Elephant Jokes”.  The populace had no defense against being trampled by these, which aimed at sheer absurdity.  To this day, if you ask a friend, “How do you tell if an elephant is hiding in your refrigerator?” and explain “By the footprints in the mayonnaise.” they will sigh and turn away, knowing there is no support program for such as you.  If you’re lucky, someone will ask you “How do you get an elephant in your refrigerator?” and go on to say, before you can, “You just move the bowl of Jell-O to the second shelf”.  You have at least found a fellow elephantist.

   These jokes were aimed at all audiences, but there were other joke fads which were aimed more directly at the adult market (not TOO adult, as radio and television censors had their ears open,.)  Talk shows and comedians of the 1960s gave us the Cocktail Joke.  “It’s called a Heretic Cocktail.  Drink one and you get stoned.”  I find very few of these on the Interwebs, so this craze has possibly gone into remission, and no one claims to have originated them, but Johnny Carson and his cronies were probably responsible for plenty of them.  “It’s called the Corpse Cocktail.  Drink one and you’re laid out.”  I DID see someone post online “It’s the Johnson and Johnson Vaccine Cocktail.  You only need one shot.” but I don’t know if that shows this particular epidemic is on its way back.

    Also popular among the stand-up crowd was the wind-up doll joke.  I expect this has gone the way of wind-up toys and other pre-electronic playthings, but once it was everywhere.  “It’s the new Liz Taylor doll.  Wind it up and it gets married.”  “It’s a Teddy Kennedy doll.  Wind it up and it runs…for president.”  Sometimes, following technology, it turned into a pull the string doll, but the pull-the-string doll has also gone the way of all magic dragons.  Though once again, some sentimental old jokester did post “It’s the new Donald Trump doll.  Wind it up and it tells you you didn’t.”

    We haven’t even scratched the Little Willie joke, or the psychiatrist joke, , or…well, I see by the green around your gills that you’ve had enough, so I will pause until you’ve recovered.  After all, old jokesters never die; they just gag.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: