Why does it seem funny women come from the south like from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, or Austin, Texas, or are we everywhere?
I so enjoy the quips from the movie, Steel Magnolias, for example: “Honey, time marches on and eventually you realize it’s marchin’ across your face.” Truvy or “I’ m just too colorful for words.” Clairee
Why is it that the last funny person from Missouri was Samuel Clements or Mark Twain? Missouri is a mixed state of humor and seriousness with some of the what I like to call Bible thumpers who are way too serious like Phyllis Schlafly, who has the audacity to want to place women back into the nineteenth century of no right to vote, barefoot and pregnant, although I noticed she went to law school. Missouri historically sided with the south during the Civil War, which meant it was a slave state. There is nothing funny about slavery. Categorizing Missourian’s sentiments as southern Midwest (west of the Mississippi, north of Arkansas) is where I would put it. I think of Mark Twain more of a practical philosopher than humorist. He did show a sense of humor in his characters of Tom Sawyer, Becky Thatcher, and Huckleberry Finn.
For me, contemporary Mary Engelbreit from St. Louis, Missouri has produced some humorous art and quips, especially, “Life is a chair of bowlies,” with picture of bowls stacked up in a chair. It’s absurdity at it’s best!
I have lived in different parts of our grand USA: Midwest in suburbs with farming relatives an hour away, Upper Great Lake state for graduate school; Mid Atlantic east coast in the westernmost mountains of that state; and now in a Midwest state with a southern twist, with mixed urban-suburban multi-cultural vibes of Jazz, R & B, biggest collection of Asian Art west of Mississippi, City of Fountains, and artists, theater, and creative culinary communities.
I have lived in Kansas during childhood and young adulthood and remember a humorous Irish Uncle who seemed to mimic me when I was a small child to get me to laugh at myself. He kept my Irish theory of joke telling ability in tact and I was the youngest cousin on that side so barely remember anything other than laughter and comments from my mother and Henry’s wife of, “O, Henry!”
Of course Henry made this joke at the expense of an Englishman: “Why don’t you tell an Englishman a joke on Saturday night? Because he’ll laugh in church on Sunday morning!” (not very quick to the punchline, eh?)
I have lived in Michigan during graduate school. There were my retorts back to the east coast kids of NYC going to University of Michigan graduate school who said such things to me alluding to my Kansas roots and assuming I was Dorothy-like from Wizard of Oz: “Dorothy (of Wizard of Oz) why don’t you go back to Kansas!”
And I retorted: “Toto, Toto, where are you? I am clicking my ruby red slippers and saying, I want to go home, I want to go home and to find out from the Wizard of Oz if these new graduate students here only had a brain, a heart, courage? Wait I hear they have much to learn, as do I, Toto stay, stay!” (as sarcastic humor). We all seemed to start laughing with each other that day.
One graduate school professor was very humorous leading class lectures. His name was Dr. Marshall Becker. He was a Jewish man who loved to compare various cultural stereotypes of people and how they might deal with illness in the hospital. He would mimic voices of various groups of people, not unlike Robin Williams, a great comedian.The class was about conveying health messages to patients in hospitals and respecting cultural differences of how people deal with illness. He helped us to communicate with people of Italian, German, Jewish, Eastern European backgrounds by understanding how researchers had found they socially deal with illness.
There were assumptions made about me growing up in Kansas by my new east coast fellow graduate students in the 1980s, and today with the book: What’s the Matter With Kansas?” and the jokes about Brownbackistan (or Governor Sam Brownback’s governing style is rigid) so the jokes are seemingly deserved. Humor is used to embarrass people out of their dysfunctional ways. To make dysfunction, fun again.
There was my retort to the fellow graduate student who asked, “Is Kansas really like those pictures in Wizard of Oz?” I said,”No, it’s not in black and white, but in actual living color like OZ!”
I can be funny sometimes, but my husband and grown kids usually steal all the attention and laughter when we are together it seems. We all have “big personalities,” not unlike, “being too colorful for words.”
Often my own nuclear family is surprised when I actually come up with a funny and say, “Mom told a funny! Mom told a funny!”
I love the story I heard at a Scottish ceilidh about the Scottish man who walked into the pub to have a few pints and ended up with a few pints too many. He decided it was getting late, so he started on the winding, grassy, hilly path home when he slipped over in a ravine and decided to sleep. Two young lassies had passed by the sleeping Scottish man before noon and one said to the other, “I always wondered what was under one of those kilts,” and so they proceeded to lift it up, giggle and take out their blue hair ribbons. They went on their way before he woke up. When he woke up to take a wee, he looked down and said out loud to himself, “Well lassie, I don’t know where you have been but you got first place!”
There seems to be a plethora of bawdy jokes at the Scottish ceilidhs that elicited laughs from my husband and I. at the Highland Festival in westernmost Maryland. Late in the evening, the bawdy jokes would begin (after all children had been put to bed or excused) and some fiddling, farting, singing, joke telling would commence.
It seems that if we don’t laugh we are actually very dysfunctional. Very serious people, in my view, are often the most cold, cruel, and scheming humans. If a person loses the ability to laugh and to joke there is grand dysfunction! So let’s put the fun back in dysfunction.