I have a lot of favourite authors.
Favourite, as in, Deserted Island Books. Which are the 10 Books would you be okay with reading millions of times for the rest of your life?
Tarapada Ray – yet another Bengali author, unknown outside Bengal – would be the third on my list of Deserted Island authors (right after Satyajit Ray and Jeffrey Archer). He passed away recently and Nilendu wrote a very affectionate tribute about him and I thought I should write one too (though, a couple of months late).
His best-known works were his collection of joke books, which he apparently lifted from others. But the fun of a good joke lies in the telling and in that, he added an absolutely new dimension to standard drunkard / husband-wife / lunatic jokes that abound as magazine fillers.
So in my tribute to Tarapada Ray, I compiled my favourite kind of jokes.
Three men were walking down the road…
This is the Mine is Bigger Than Yours (metaphorically speaking) joke.
Three men. One says, “I can make a needle which is thinner than the thinnest human hair.” The second says, “That’s nothing. I can make a hole through the needle.” And third – who has to be an Indian – says, “And I can print MADE IN INDIA on it!”
Now, depending on your nationality and ethnicity, you can change the characters in the play, as long as they conform to the stereotypes and your own guy comes in last with the punch line.
The Gujarati has sharp business sense. The Punjabi is brave. The South Indian is hard working. The Bihari is lazy but witty. And the Bengali is God’s gift to mankind. Sorry for the generalization but that’s how I heard each one of these.
Even internationally, the stereotypes are brilliantly well defined. The Englishman is a gentleman. The Italian is flamboyant. The Scotsman is thrifty. The American is a garrulous millionaire. And the Irish is an idiot.
No wonder, the Irishmen started blowing up bridges and towns. Anybody would. I was quite convinced that the Sikhs started their demand for a separate country when they heard what disgusting jokes their Bengali brethren were concocting!
The husband told the wife…
This is the Battle of the Sexes joke.
The basic premise of this category is that marriage is a misfortune very few of us can avoid and hence, it is better to make fun of it. You know, how we used to mimic the ghastly teachers at school? It’s a lot like that. Since we could not bomb the school, we made fun of them. Husband-wife jokes are exactly like that. (Ummm... not in my case specifically, but generally speaking!)
The jokes try to demonstrate that the boyfriends / husbands are a lazy, flirtatious, remote-hogging, beer-drinking, commitment-phobic bunch while the wives / girlfriends are shopaholics, poor drivers, neurotic about cleanliness and excessively dainty. Also, the husband wants it all the time while the wife has to get in the mood.
My favourite one? Well, a wife did not return home one night so her husband asked where she had been. She mentioned being at a friend’s place. He called up ten of her best friends but none of them said she was there the previous night. Now, the husband did not return home one night the next week and his wife asked him where he had been. He said he was at a friend’s place. So, she called up ten of his best friends and every single one of them confirmed that he had been at their place the night before!
This is the Bermuda Triangle joke.
There are certain classes of people who make a lot of money out of our ignorance. Doctors lead the pack but mechanics, electricians and plumbers fall in the broad category as well. This category of jokes pokes fun at these people whose talents we cannot have and whose bills we must pay.
The doctor jokes are most common – thanks to the Readers’ Digest column (Laughter – The Best Medicine) which has now lent its name to countless anthologies of doctor jokes brought out by pharmaceutical companies and gifted to doctors (presumably to become reading material for their clinics’ waiting rooms!)
The most common doctor jokes are the ones in which the patient’s purported illness is (1) presented in exaggerated form or (2) misunderstood by the doctor.
Sample 1: “Doctor, my problem is that I keep forgetting. / “Tell me about your problem in detail.” / “What problem?”
Sample 2: “Doctor, my problem is that people keep ignoring me.” / “Next patient.”
Lawyers, of course, are a different breed altogether – as they seem to be the butt of all jokes that look to portray the most despicable of humanity!
Basically, all Knock-Knock / Good-News-Bad-News jokes come under this head as their chief audience consists of individuals with mental age less than 84 months. The operative word here is ‘mental’ as physical age has nothing to do with the comprehension and enjoyment of humour that typically goes:
- Knock! Knock!
- Who’s there?
- Alex who?
- Alexplain later. Now, open the door!
This brings us to my last category – which is clearly the most misunderstood of all kinds of jokes in the universe.
PJ or Poor Jokes is what philistines call subtle puns – in one of the most unfair of all nomenclature. A pun – when executed with panache – can reach the highest forms of humour but erudition and intelligence of the listener is critical to the success of the joke. Since the sophistication is out of the grasp of most, they usually screech out "Aaaiii, kya ganda wala mara!" to puns as a kind of defence mechanism.
For example, not too many people can appreciate the tale about the Greek guy going to a tailor with a torn coat. The tailor asked, “Euripedis?” and he replied “Eumenides?”
Or for that matter, few can follow Oscar Wilde (recently voted the most humourous man of Britain - ever) when he said, “Immanuel doesn’t pun. He Kant.”
British tabloids – apparently meant for lowbrow audiences – specialize in fantastic puns. You need to have a perspective of opera as well as cricket when they headlined about Shane Warne – “Ain’t Over Till The Fat Laddie Spins!”
There’s one even better – which talked about the Caledonian team’s victory over the Celtics in the Scottish League – Super Caley Go Ballistic, Celtics are Atrocious!
The slight extension of the ‘word pun’ is the ‘phrase pun’ which leads to the paranoid question – “Who is General Failure and why is he reading my hard disk?”
I could go on and on trying to prove my point. If not anything, I can tell you ten puns to make you laugh. But what if no pun in ten did?