Thursday, May 03, 2007

Giving New Life to Lawyer and Ethnic Jokes

People love to tell me lawyer jokes, and I don’t mind hearing them. Nobody is more contemptuous of the profession than I am. When I was sworn in to the Maryland bar back in 1985, the Chief Judge urged us to be intolerant of lawyer jokes. He said that we should claim to be offended by them and to scold the joke tellers and set them straight about lawyers. I heeded him not. Lawyers deserve all the contempt heaped upon them and then some. We’re lucky it’s jokes and not rocks that are used to express the public’s disregard for us.

Anyway, I like lawyer jokes. I even tell them sometimes. One thing I like to do is to change them up by changing the profession to that of the listener. For example, if I’m telling a lawyer joke to a female physical anthropologist it might go something like this: “What do you call a thousand female physical anthropologists at the bottom of the Hudson River? A start.” It’s even funnier, isn’t it? “What’s the difference between a dead snake in the road and a dead dentist? There are skid marks in front of the snake.” “How can you tell when an actuary is lying? His lips are moving.” Try it yourself. The less contemptible the profession, the funnier the joke is in my opinion. “What’s the definition of a shame? When a bus full of hospice workers goes over a cliff and there’s two empty seats.” See what I mean?

And you can tell ethnic jokes all you want as long as you pick a really obscure ethnic category or a fictitious one or an extinct one or one that makes no sense. “This Romanian walks into a bar with a parrot on his shoulder. The bartender says, ‘Hey, that’s neat. Where did you get it?’ The parrot replies, ‘In Romania, they run wild over there.’” “A Klingon, an Orc and a Sentient Duck like in Duck Tales are traveling through the country when their car breaks down. A farmer allows them to sleep in his barn but warns them to stay away from his beautiful daughter. The Klingon sneaks in, ravishes the daughter and is sneaking back when the farmer, who has been keeping vigil, calls ‘Who’s there?’ The Klingon thinks quick and lets out a ‘Meow’ so that the farmer is not alarmed. The Sentient Duck does the same thing and answers the challenge of the farmer with a ‘Meow’. The Orc does the same thing and when the farmer calls out, he replies ‘It’s the cat!’” ” “Why did the Etruscan eat dynamite? So his hair would grow out in bangs.”

Another way to go is to take a category other than ethnicity or gender or sexual orientation and make that category the butt of the joke. “How many cat fanciers does it take to screw in a light bulb? One; is that supposed to be funny!?”

One of my favorite lawyer jokes is about four good friends and golfing buddies. They are a doctor, a minister, a lawyer and a businessman. One day in the clubhouse the businessman reveals that he is dying of cancer and that his dying wish is to take his wealth with him into the grave. He gives each of his friends a third of his money and makes them swear that they will put it in his casket just before it is lowered into the ground. At the graveside, they each put a sack in the casket. A year later, the minister confesses to the other two that he had not, in fact, put the money in the coffin. He figured that their friend had not been thinking straight and would have really wanted the minister to give the money to a charity that helped people with cancer. And that’s what he had done with the two million bucks he had been given. The doctor replied that he was relieved to hear it and that he had put his share of the money in a foundation to research a cure for the cancer that had killed their friend. The lawyer was appalled that they had broken their oath and defied the dying wish of their dear friend. His conscience was clear because he had put in the casket his personal check for two million dollars.

1 comment:

Steve Scott said...

My deskmate is Romanian, and he thought it was funny, even if it didn't make sense. But not as funny as the original lawyer joke, which, I think, proves your point.