Friday, October 31, 2008


If You Think My Preaching's Bad, Try My Jokes, David Pytches, Monarch Books, 2008.

I remember visiting both Churches-of-England in Chorleywood, an outer London suburb. One was pastored by a Bishop (Peru, Chile, Bolivia) whose theology was 'Charismatic'. The other church was Evangelical.

This collection of quips, jokes, and funny stories has been collected by David Pytches (how does one get a surname like that?) - the charismatic pastor. I don't remember anything funny happening the couple of times I spoke at the other church, except that some of my own jokes possibly fell flat among those serious people. (I take comfort in these situations from the old quatrain: Sometimes I wish I were Adam./ Whatever problems he may have had in days of yore,/When he cracked a joke no one could say,/ "I've heard that one before".)

Anyway, these are serious jokes, which don't, writes David in the Introduction, seriously offend. But within the first couple of dozen he's offended politicians, Australians, the French, the Irish - and even the English. (That's the one about two Englishmen on a desert island who don't talk to one another because they've not been introduced).

Possibly the easiest way for an Englishman to offend Australians is to re-hash the one attributed to the NZ PM David Lange (the Kiwis love it: I've heard it every time I've been there): 'When a reporter asked a former Prime Minister of New Zealand, David Lange, if he was concerned about the exodus of so many New Zealanders to Australia, the ex-PM responded, "Not at all. I think it's bound to raise the IQ of both countries".' And of course, there's also the one about the 'high standards of Australians [being] due to the fact that their ancestors were all hand-picked by the best English judges.'

The attempt to offend U.S. President George Bush (he doesn't say which one - presumably Dubya) - was with this wisecrack attributed to him: 'My opponent has a problem. He won't get elected unless things get worse - and things won't get worse unless he's elected.' (Aren't presidents lucky having cleverer speech-writers?).

Here's an oft-quoted one about committees: 'A committee is a group of people who individually can do nothing, but together decide that nothing can be done.'

I'm constantly amazed at the quick-wittedness of politicians like Winston Churchill (and our own R G Menzies). Here are two of the best from Churchill: 'He occasionally stumbles over the truth but he always hastily picks himself up and hurries on as if nothing had happened'; and '[Charles de Gaulle] looked like a female llama surprised in her bath'. And if you don't like a certain Irishman, you'll like this: 'If the word "No" was removed from the English language, Ian Paisley would be speechless'. (These days, fortunately, he makes speeches without using the word-comprising-the-middle-two-letters-of-the-alphabet).

There are some jokes - and a few clever allusions - to sex, which is apparently sometimes funny, even for the British. Like: 'The English have sex on the brain - which is a frightfully uncomfortable place to have it' (Malcolm Muggeridge).

I've collected - as of today - 4592 funny jokes and stories (see here and/or here), but many of David's I've never heard before. Buy this book for someone you're close to so that you can borrow it to read on holidays, then bore people with a few of them forever after.

Rowland Croucher

October 2008.

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