Ancient Greeks & blonde jokes

Arthur Black shows humour hasn’t changed a lot through the ages

If you knew how perfect things are you would tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.

Excellent, twenty-five hundred-year-old advice from a jolly fat man named Gautama Buddha.

The Enlightened One discovered early the centrality of laughter to life and prescribed it as a cure-all for everything that ails us.  He wasn’t alone.  If we could time travel back two millennia to a certain Athenian garden we’d find a gaggle of Greek comedians hunched over a wax tablet scratching out the world’s very first joke book. It was called the Philogelos and consisted of about 260 gags that were considered real thigh slappers circa 400 AD.

Sample joke: PATIENT: “Doctor, when I get up in the morning I feel dizzy for twenty minutes.”

DOCTOR: “Get up twenty minutes later, then.”

Laugh? I thought my chiton would never dry.

Interestingly, they had Polish jokes even back then — except they didn’t call them Polish jokes. They called them Abderite jokes — so named for the Greek town of Abdera whose citizens were not known as repositories of deep thought.

Here is an Abderite joke:

ABDERITE:  “Pleased to meet you. And is this your wife?”

EUNUCH: “I am a eunuch. Eunuchs do not have wives.”

ABDERITE: “Oh. Is she your daughter then?”

Howie Mandel, eat your heart out.

While we’re trolling the bottom of the comic barrel, allow me to throw a contemporary blonde joke at you. I know, I know… blonde jokes are cheap and sexist and unconnected with reality, but this one’s special. First you have to imagine this blonde. Let’s make her a Californian, say about 38 years old, a former model with a bust line like the Scarborough Bluffs (five boob jobs), lips that look like sofa cushions and a scalpel-sculpted chin so pointy she could fend off muggers. Why would anyone choose to surgically enhance herself like that?

“I just want to be the ultimate Barbie” she says. “When people ask why I want to be Barbie, I think, who wouldn’t want to be? She has the best life. All she does is shop and make herself look pretty — she doesn’t worry about anything.”

But just looking like Barbie isn’t enough. She wants to think like Barbie too. Or rather, not think like Barbie. She’s paying a hypnotherapist to reduce her IQ.

“I’ve had twenty sessions and I’m beginning to feel real ditzy and confused all the time. I just want to be the ultimate Barbie. I actually want to be brainless.”

Too whacky even for California? Wrong. This blonde joke is no joke. Her name is Blondie (natch) Bennett.

And how does Blondie pay the rent, never mind the team of surgeons on standby? Simple. She peddles pictures of her augmented self in very skimpy Barbie costumes to oglers on the Internet.

What you’re hearing, Grasshopper, is the sound of one hand clapping.

— Arthur Black’s column appears every Tuesday in The NEWS. He can be reached at: arblack43@shaw.ca.

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