Regional Joke Quiz

     Not too long ago, we discussed the principle that the Scots are one of the few ethnic groups left which allowed, and sometimes encouraged, ethnic jokes about themselves.  The Scottish joke may ot have the currency that once it did, but it is still out there, doing its work with a minimum of fuss.

     It was brought home to me, as I was leafing through some of the thousands of postcards I have for sale at popular prices (okay, not so popular if I still have the postcards) that I had ignored another ethnic figure which also alternates between pride and exasperation at jokes.  This would be the Texan.  This transcends mere local rivalries like the jokes Iowans tell about Nebraskans (1. What do you call it when you see twelve tractors parked outside a Nebraska McDonald’s?) or that violinists tell about viola players (2. What’s the difference between a dead violinist by the highway and a dead viola player by the highway?)  Books of jokes about Texans were once bestsellers the length and breadth of this nation, because everyone knew ALL about Texans.  Texans were cowboys turned oil millionaires who bragged about Texas.

     The phenomenon of the Texas joke was always present in American humor, but became a national mania in 1959.  The admission of Alaska as the 49th state meant that after more than a century, Alaska was no longer the largest state in the union.  This spawned entirely new jokes like the one (3.)about the Texan who denied Alaska should be counted as a large state.  “Alaska wouldn’t be bigger than a Texas T-bone steak if you (          )_.”

     4. This provoked a response from the Alaskans, who told about the Texan who was so huge that when he died, they couldn’t find a casket to bury him in until the undertaker took a (          ).

     5. Even before that, though, people remarked many times about the Texans who bragged about the glories of their state.  They told of the Texan who declined to be impressed by a farmer in Iowa who was proud of owning a 26,000 acre farm.  “Why, that’s the size of a Texas backyard garden!” said the Texan.  “Why, if I got in my Mercedes at the front gate of my farm at dawn, I couldn’t get to the far end of my spread by sundown!”

     “I know what you mean,” said the Iowa farmer.  “I (          ).”

      6. And in my day, we learned in school about the Texas tourist visiting Massachusetts who kept telling the tour guides about the glories of his home state.  “We’ve got real heroes down there,” he told anyone within earshot.  “There was Sam Houston, who would’ve whipped Santa Ana’s army single-handed if he hadn’t decided to share the glory with some of his army, and Jim Bowie, who cut so many enemies with that knife of his they naturally had to name it for him, and….”

     “There were plenty of heroes in Massachusetts, too,” the tour guide broke in.  “There was Paul Revere and….”

     “Paul Revere?” roared the Texan.  “You mean that guy who (          )”

     Thank you for a chance to revisit a few jovial ethnic slurs and a chance to revisit as well the joke quizzes of old.  Following are, if you needed them, some ANSWERS.

     A1. Prom night

     A2. The violinist was hit on his way to a job

     A3. Left it in the sun and let it melt

     A4. Stuck a pin in him and let the hot air out  (Points to those of you who know the enema version, and shame on you)

     A5. had a car like that once, myself

     A6. Ran for help?

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