Round Table on Mormon Humor, Round Three

The final round of the round table was the most interesting and difficult.  Lots of unanswered questions, but we enjoyed the conversation.

From: Steve Evans
To: Ed, Kirby, Bengt, Eric, Todd
Date: Sept. 20, 2005
Re: Mormon Humor, Round Three

Well, that last round was a real downer. Thanks for the depression, everyone!

For this third and final round of emails, let me ask a few mini-questions, because there are lots of topics out there to address but little time. Feel free to respond to some or all of these questions as you see fit:

1. Anyone notice that no women participated in our round table? Laurie Johnson, who once did the Relief Society Lady Fonda Alamode (http://www.signaturebooks.com/special.htm ), is very funny but is no longer a member and no longer does mormon humor. Where are the funny mormon women (no co-ed jokes please — unless it’s the kool-aid one)?

2. When will the increasingly international nature of our church bring in new elements of humor? Will dutch oven cookery lose its hold over our culture? Will we have to start thinking of South American mormon jokes (if anyone has some, by the way, please forward them. All my South American mormon jokes are cruel ones about 3-day canoe rides to visit the temple)?

3. Funniest General Authority? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Elder Bednar is NOT the funniest G.A., for two reasons: 1) German and 2) military. Spencer Condie is a cut-up; his imitations are spot on, making him our very own mormon Rich Little. Pres. Hinckley is also funny and has a great self-deprecating wit. Other picks/stories?

This last round is also a chance for us to show off and spout off on topics, including plugging our own books/websites/columns/shows. Feel free to provide links that our readers would enjoy. Finally, let me thank you all for being a part of this — when we post it up on our website (I’ll post in three installments), I’ll let you know so that you can follow the comments and add more snarks of your own.

Yours,

Steve

From: Ed Snow
To: Steve, Kirby, Bengt, Eric, Todd
Date: Sept. 20, 2005
Re: Mormon Humor, Round Three

I might as well be consistent and shoot first and ask questions later.

1. [Steve] Anyone notice that no women participated in our round table?

[Ed] I noticed, but I didn’t realize we had the option of inviting anyone. Otherwise I would have emailed Ann Edwards Cannon or Eloise Bell, for starters. I believe Laurie Johnson still counts even as a post-Mormon (this raises the question of what is Mormon humor anyway–by Mormons, for Mormons, read by Mormons, informed by Mormon background–what is it? What is a Mormon?). Becky Linford’s high jinks at Sunstone sessions are tolerably amusing (her recounting of Mormon history using only Barbie and Ken dolls should be memorialized on film–I’m thinking a collaboration between Richard Dutcher and Trey Parker). I remember there were several funny women writing for the Sugar Beet as well (I defer to Todd here). Don’t forget the sister who wrote Fascinating Womanhood –that was a pretty funny book too.

2. [Steve] When will the increasingly international nature of our church bring in new elements of humor?

[Ed] As Mormons increasingly export Wasatch Mountain Range culture as an ostensible part of their religion around the globe, the comedic incongruities will compound daily like interest, but you have to be there, not here, to get it, because international humor currencies suffer from wild exchange rate swings. I don’t have time to make that make very much sense.

3. [Steve] Funniest General Authority?

[Ed] Suspend disbelief for a moment. What if we were to find out Elder Packer was all that time just misunderstood, that he really was a person with a WAY too sarcastic, over-the-top, kind of dark sense of humor? Until there’s hard evidence to support that scenario, my vote’s with Hartman Rector for the moment (does GA emeritus status count?). I’ve heard him wax sarcastic and joke around on several occasions, once I recall, oddly enough, preceded by Grant von Harrison who focused his remarks on the growing spiritual dangers of sarcasm, saying rather bluntly that it was Satan’s tool to lead you straight to hell. Interesting warm up act to follow.

Here’s one I can remember from Brother Rector, not that funny, but the only one that comes to mind.

Elder Rector: "Then my wife pulled the dinner entree out of the oven and I felt we were a small part of the restoration of all things. There, on our dining room table, was a bona fide, Old Testament, burnt offering." He told this joke (or something like it) at a stake conference when I was at BYU in the early 80s. His wife was sitting behind him and she was laughing with the rest of the congregation, probably out of wifely duty–no doubt she’d heard this joke before on their many travels.

Then a co-ed (must not … tell … co-ed … joke, must … refrain …) stood up and gave the closing prayer. And I’m not making this up–I and several others witnessed this miracle. She said: "And we thank thee that thou hast sent Brother Hartman Rectum, Jr. to inspire us today." Elder Rector, red-faced, was smiling so big after the prayer I thought the corners of his mouth would start bleeding. He reached over and gave this naive young lady a big hug as we all stifled snickers with fake coughs. I used to think the joke was on this sweet little spirit, probably the only person in all of Mormon history to utter the word "rectum" into a microphone at a church meeting. But now, after these many years, especially considering the first question presented by Steve in this Round Three, I wonder if perhaps this relief society sister was in fact a sneaky Feminite Mormon humorist named Laurie Johnson who merely saw an opportunity to get even with her "patriarchal oppressors," seized the day and thereby launched a short-lived (some would say) career as a Mormon humorist with a simple prayer?

Ed Snow

From: Kirby
To: Steve, Ed, Bengt, Eric, Todd
Date: Sept. 21, 2005
Re: Mormon Humor, Round Three

1 — No women in our group? I thought Ed was a woman. Seriously, I’m attracted to him and everything. You can’t imagine how disappointed I am.

Maybe an inclination to the spiritual side of things doesn’t find the same value in humor. It’s just a thought. According to a few studies, when left to our own devices women are more apt to go to church than men. It’s like they have some kind of a god gene that men lack. On the other hand, maybe it’s also a career thing. LDS women are typically so involved in family that maybe they just don’t get around to formalizing the business of humor. Beats me. I don’t think it’s because they can’t be funny. Becky Linford, who Ed mentioned, is fall down funny.

2. As for the nature of Mormon humor changing, I don’t see it happening to an appreciable degree for a long time. It’s going to be Utah-based beyond our time. My guess is that what we’re really laughing about in Mormonism is the culture of our belief rather than the belief itself. Most international converts already have a culture. Church for them seems to be something additional that they have voluntarily brought into their lives, not something they’re looking to cope with through humor. I’m generalizing here, of course, but when I look at LDS humor (and by that I mean the legitimately funny stuff that we haven’t jobbed from other faiths) I see it as safety net from herd-think. In the international community of saints I suspect that herd-think is still considered something of a positive thing. Jabs at the orthodoxy aren’t as necessary or appreciated.

3. Funniest general authority? Can’t say. I find the unctuous manner in which conference addresses are given so annoying that I wait for the reports to be published before I “listen.” Even the non-LDS people who cover conference for the Tribune notice it. “Dude, what’s up with the way they all talk?” Someone once told me that Boyd Packer has a great sense of humor outside of the general conference arena. But this was a person whose own sense of humor was so anemic that he had no business telling a joke never mind assessing someone else’s ability to find it funny. Today, I would have to say President Hinckley. He’s probably done more for the church in this regard than anyone in recent memory. There’s a genuine “get over yourself” quality to him that I admire. When it comes to making me laugh though, I’d have to say George P. Lee before he was exed. I had occasion to sit through a couple of his talks. The guy could really go on a tear. I suspect he was trying to scare people, but he just made me laugh.

For me, the best humor comes from people who don’t really have much of an ecclesiastical beef with the church, or who at least aren’t looking to pick a fight over it. In general, I find the humor of people who are transitioning out of the church to be a little on the bitter side. It’s like I can smell their agenda through the joke. I don’t mean people who no longer believe the doctrine, but rather people who are looking to shake off Mormonism because it’s something they’re ashamed of or consider loathsome. The people I’m talking about are a bit more balanced. Whether or not they still believe, they’re comfortable with themselves and their environment to really see what’s funny about us. Most of the angry people I know have the same problem that they accuse believers of —- being so emotionally caught up in the situation that they’re ability to see it clearly enough for real humor has become compromised. For me, what we believe isn’t nearly as important (or as funny) as how we believe it. And I think that’s where the true humorist operates. It also improves the odds that other people will get the joke because, after all, human behavior is universal.

From: Bengt Washburn
To: Ed, Kirby, Steve, Eric, Todd
Date: Sept. 21, 2005
Re: Mormon Humor, Round Three

1.No women in the Mormon comedy roundtable…

There aren’t that many women in ANY comedy roundtables. In this respect we are the same as the rest of the world. In the stand-up comedy world I can name hundreds of excellent male comedians and only fifteen, maybe twenty excellent female comedians. Some of our most famous woman comics actually suck (Janeane Garafalo comes to mind, and Margeret Cho of late). I dont know why there is a gender gap in my field. I suspect it has something to do with sexism, or more accurately gender roles. I know that it is more difficult for women to get an audience onto their side. It seems like its a threat to some peoples’ sense of social order for a woman to attack and destroy the way humor does. So the generally cold audience receptions mean that a female comic can’t survive if they are weak or just serviceable.

When a woman does become competent at stand-up she is always pretty amazing, Ellen Degeneres, Andy Smith, Karen Rontkowski, Kathleen Madigan, Margeret Smith and several others are fantastic. But there is a HUGE gap between them and the average female stand-up comedian.

I never got to see Becky Linford. I heard about her. I hope that even if she has officially left the church that the seperation has left her in a spirit of good humor. I think Robert is right. When people leave in anger the jokes become to bitter to be funny. They become a kind of sick cheerleading for the disillusioned, clever utterances of shared grudges. Too much pyscho not enough therapy. Flippancy at best.

Will the nature of Mormon humor change with more international membership? I suppose it will eventually but not for me. I bet there are already some international takes on Mormon culture but I wouldn’t get the jokes if I heard them. And most stateside Mormons would miss the jokes as well. I have an idea of how my act would go over in England (I HAVE had some very positive British, Aussie and Kiwi responses) but Japan, Germany, Mexico? Africa? Clueless. And thats assuming I could speak their language. Humor operates on shared assumptions and experiences. I think it will be some time before we all understand each other that well.

Funniest General Authority? They are funny collectively, but not neccessarily individually. First there is the term. General Authority, non-specific know-it-alls, . And then the need to say the entire name Boyd K. Packer, I am conditioned to where anybody sounds like they are a general authority if you say the full name. try it. "Brother Theodore K. Nugent has just addressed us…"

And the general conference cadence. It is pronounced. I can’t imagine someone telling a joke with that cadence. Thomas S. Monson telling a Knock knock joke would be pretty funny I guess. But the few I’ve met didn’t talk like that when I met them.

My favorite is now gone. That is of course J. Golden Kimball. (Did I get the initial right?) Of course I only read the stories. I don’t think we’ll ever see another one like him. As the church grows in numbers and diversity, there is a greater need to present a unified front. Humor so often focuses on the areas where there is tension, disagreement, doubt and possible division. I bet they are all funnier than they let on BUT since sarcasm and satire are so often misunderstood, they have to watch it pretty closely.

From: Steve Evans
To: Todd, Ed, Bengt, Eric, Kirby
Date: Sept. 21, 2005
Re: Mormon Humor, Round Three

I can imagine Thomas S. Monson telling a knock-knock joke:

When I was bishop, I often went to visit Sister Jones.  Sister Jones, a widow now aged a young 95 years, would often bring a tear to my eye with tales of her pioneer past and the golden days of Utah.  "Tommy," she would say, "remember the miracle of the seagulls and never forget to do your duty."  And so I went one Saturday afternoon unannounced to see Sister Jones, and approached her doorstep.

I knocked gently at her door, not wanting to startle her.  "Who’s there?" came the familiar voice of the lovely widow.  "Tommy," I replied, loud enough for her 95-year-old ears to hear.  "Tommy who?"  Came the response.  I began to fear that Sister Jones was losing her hearing.  "Tommy I will always be gorgeous," I replied.

Tears were shed; laughs were exchanged; lessons were learned.  I never said it would be funny; I only said it would be… never mind.

From: Todd Petersen
To: Steve, Ed, Bengt, Eric, Kirby
Date: Sept. 21, 2005
Re: Mormon Humor, Round Three

Steve: Anyone notice that no women participated in our round table? Laurie Johnson, who once did the Relief Society Lady Fonda Alamode (http://www.signaturebooks.com/special.htm ), is very funny but is no longer a member and no longer does mormon humor. Where are the funny mormon women (no co-ed jokes please — unless it’s the kool-aid one)?

That’s because they are too busy chasing kids. I’m actually not even joking here. I’m alone with my kids from 8 am to noon every day, so I have a pretty clear understanding of how little gets done when one is trying to raise children. Mormon culture still supports this basic cultural premise that women will stay home and handle the menialities of life while men charge about (in the world but not of it). Few women have made good humor of domesticity — I’m thinking of Erma Bombeck in the 70s.

The Sugarbeet’s best satirist in my opinion was Amy Chamberlain. She was simply out of hand, made me pee my pants every time. I guess I could have recommended her, but I’m a chauvinist, and I’m trying to hide the fact that I am weaker than she is.

Bengt makes an interesting point: comedy lacks lots of great comediennes with the exception of Julie Louis Dreyfuss, Lily Tomlin, Elaine May, and a couple of those people from Mad TV. It’s like where’d the dearth of women directors come from?

It probably is sexism, which is nice–means that Mormons aren’t the only sexists in the world. Okay, that was cold.

2. When will the increasingly international nature of our church bring in new elements of humor? Will dutch oven cookery lose its hold over our culture? Will we have to start thinking of South American mormon jokes (if anyone has some, by the way, please forward them. All my South American mormon jokes are cruel ones about 3-day canoe rides to visit the temple)?

This is pretty interesting to think about. What I hope happens is that something gets going in, say, Brazil, that we in the States have no knowledge of. I think there was some loud laughter in Chile and the Phillippines, and that’s why there’s General Authorities over there now. If they would have only chuckled, they’d still be under the radar.

Someone else mentioned the idea that there’s not so much of a coherent Mormon culture outside of Utah, which might impede the growth of international humor. Most of the people in Utah have experienced foreign cultures as some kind of gross food eating dare on their mission. So, I’m not sure that people are really thinking through the complex tapestry of other cultures the way someone who just showed up in an Egyptian market place might.

3. Funniest General Authority? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Elder Bednar is NOT the funniest G.A., for two reasons: 1) German and 2) military.

Spencer Condie is a cut-up; his imitations are spot on, making him our very own mormon Rich Little. Pres. Hinckley is also funny and has a great self-deprecating wit. Other picks/stories? I think Haight could really stick you in the ribs, but at the end his delivery was off, but who cares. When you get that old, people are just glad to see you’re in the room.

This last round is also a chance for us to show off and spout off on topics, including plugging our own books/websites/columns/shows.

This has been fun, and at least thought provoking. Worth the effort alone to have read that why are crows black joke. I’ve been working on a humorous novel about Utah for the last few years, which has steadily pulled my away from straight humor/satire and made me think about how to package this culture of ours for a national audience. I’m still shopping for an agent, but the response has been pretty positive. By that I mean, the agents and editors I have been dealing with don’t seem to have the prejudice against Mormon culture that a lot of Mormons think is there. The problem seems to be how Mormon people seek to communicate that culture.

In my estimation, they’re mostly trying to reach Mormon people, which seems to work on the micro-scale of the Richard Dutcher film. I think, on the other hand, that the work of all those people on Napoleon Dynamite have done more positive work for the Church’s public image than even Steve Young. They were outing themselves as Mormons in all the hipster media venues, and they were a huge hit.

I think the best thing mormon humor could do, is bring our real take on things, our real beliefs and present them, play them. Otherwise, we’re just parochial, and it’s hard to be really funny when you’re being parochial.

I think some cool Mormon stuff (not necessarily humor) is happening in the blog world that’s worth mentioning.

http://www.tinypineapple.com/ | personal blog

http://www.amishrobot.com/ | personal blog

http://www.hermajestysgardener.com/ | novel in blog form

http://www.fwic.us/main.html | I can’t explain it

I’m working that mojo, too, at http://www.toddpetersen.org

Thanks, it’s been real. Keep tight with your peeps.

– Todd

From: Eric Snider
To: Steve, Ed, Bengt, Todd, Kirby
Date: Sept. 21, 2005
Re: Mormon Humor, Round Three

1. Anyone notice that no women participated in our round table? Laurie Johnson, who once did the Relief Society Lady Fonda Alamode (http://www.signaturebooks.com/special.htm ), is very funny but is no longer a member and no longer does mormon humor. Where are the funny mormon women (no co-ed jokes please — unless it’s the kool-aid one)?

Bah. Mormonness has nothing to do with it. Female humorists are in the distinct minority in general, not just here. Something to do with our culture seeing being funny as a masculine characteristic: Being really,
really funny just isn’t "lady-like." (How many comediennes are there who are also beautiful? Very few. In general, women are supposed to be pretty, but if they aren’t, then they’re allowed to be funny instead.
We don’t usually let them be both. We’re bastards like that.)

2. When will the increasingly international nature of our church bring in new elements of humor? Will dutch oven cookery lose its hold over our culture? Will we have to start thinking of South American mormon jokes (if anyone has some, by the way, please forward them. All my South American mormon jokes are cruel ones about 3-day canoe rides to visit the temple)?

I don’t think it will ever happen, actually. No matter how much the church expands to all corners of the globe, it’s still going to be very much an American church, and even a Utah church. Among the apostles, we finally have some who weren’t born in Utah, but do we have any with NO connection to Utah? Never lived there, didn’t go to school there? I’m not up on my apostle biographies, but I think the answer is still no. And that goes a long way toward establishing the "identity" of the church. If most or all of the men in the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve look, sound and talk like Utahns, then we’re still going to
feel like a Utah church, no matter how inaccurate that assessment technically is in terms of numbers and geography.

Consider something else: We’re baptizing them like crazy in South America, but we’re losing them almost as fast. You don’t have Mormonism as a "culture" down there, or anywhere else but the Jell-O Belt,
really. It’s a religion, and one that many people adhere to steadfastly, but not something that becomes the dominant part of their culture or their community. In Utah and Idaho there are people who are LDS the way people in Italy are Catholic: born into it, and even baptized, but not at all practicing, and on and on that way for generations. The church hasn’t been strong enough in other parts of the world yet for that sort of thing to occur, and if Mormonism isn’t part of the culture, it’s not going to be part of the humor, either.

Plus, South Americans aren’t funny.

3. Funniest General Authority?

Funniest G.A.? Depends on the criteria. If you mean the funniest in public, it’s probably President Hinckley. He makes the most jokes — but, then, he also speaks in conference more than anyone else.

But I doubt he’s the funniest G.A. There must be someone in the Seventy (the First and Second Quorums, I mean, not those new backup quorums they have nowadays) who, in his day-to-day life, is funnier. We just don’t know it because whoever he is, he only gets to speak in conference maybe once every five years, and maybe hasn’t spoken at all yet.

This last round is also a chance for us to show off and spout off on topics, including plugging our own books/websites/columns/shows.

Well, all right. No one else has done this yet, but I have no qualms about being the first.

First, I want to recommend that no one read Robert Kirby’s column, as he is of the devil. In fact, the Salt Lake Tribune in general should probably be off-limits.

Then I want to recommend a little Web site I frequent called www.EricDSnider.com . My "Snide Remarks" columns are there (I’m still writing them, sure enough), as well as my film reviews (still doing those, too). You can also buy my books and CDs from that site. It’s really a pretty useful site, when you think about it.

Thanks for letting me be involved in this little program. It’s been fun.

Eric

From: Ed Snow
To: Steve, Eric, Bengt, Todd, Kirby
Date: Sept. 22, 2005
Re: Mormon Humor, Round Three

Owing to the many false reports which have been put in circulation by evil disposed and designing persons regarding my relationship with Kirby, I have been induced to write this rebuttal to disabuse the public mind and put all inquirers after truth in possession of the facts as to myself and Kirby, henceforth and forevermore.

I categorically deny that Kirby and I have been sealed together in any kind of secret (but not sacred) religious ceremony, especially any kind of apostate polygaymist adoption proceeding whereby I might have been ordained Kirby’s “spiritual little buddy” or any special annointing or sealing with Kirby to form an “Ambiguously Orthodox Duo.” (Everyone together now: “Not that there’s anything wrong with that”).

To my knowledge, the only relationship between Kirby and me is as follows. Back when I was actually doing Mormon humor, someone emailed me that the difference between me and Kirby was that “Kirby is a smart dumbass and Snow is a dumb smartass.” I’ve never really understood that declaration, but I feel somehow I came out with the short end of the schtick, although I was flattered to be mentioned in the same sentence with Kirby, even if we were the collective butt end of a joke.

Ed

PS, I don’t know who recently started saying this again (“W”?), but I hear the phrase “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” about every day now. I’m anxious to come up with a Mormon version of this but so far I’m stumped with only a half a phrase: “Praise to the Man and Pass the [_________________]!” Any suggestions?

Kirby

P.S. I still love you, Ed. No matter what our wives say.

Comments

  1. Todd:

    The rest of you were very funny, but Amy Chamberlain and Stephen Carter were the best writers at The Sugar Beet.

  2. Who is the funniest general authority?

    I think Elder Holland is pretty funny. And I was at a barbecue once where Elder Monson showed up wearing a hawaiian shirt. He is the life of a party. He knew lots of jokes I hadn’t heard before.

  3. I wish my friend Cherie Woodworth would write more Mormon humor. Her fake news story on the “Farmer in the Dell” was a classic — not that Mormon but many of her other fake news stories were equally funny.

  4. Nothing is as unfunny as a discussion about what’s funny. Case in point: the Terri Gross interview of Stephen Colbert.

  5. This had me rolling: “What if we were to find out Elder Packer was all that time just misunderstood, that he really was a person with a WAY too sarcastic, over-the-top, kind of dark sense of humor?”

    Good series, all.

  6. Steve Evans says:

    Thanks Eric — it was a lot of fun to do it. I also think Faust has got a good sense of humor, as does Monson. But they need to cut loose!

  7. Nice finale. The last words were classic.

  8. Becky Linford says:

    Hey you dumb bastards, Becky Linford here!!! So, I understand Kirby & Ed (aka “Dog Boy”) hogging the Ambiguously “Funny” Duo title, but what excuse do the rest of you have? What about ME??????? I know I can’t speak for any other women, nor should I really be speaking on my own behalf, but I’m dying back here in the land of the Baltimorons. Please please invite me to your next fun-fest. One of my friends and I have recently dusted off our Spencer “W” Kimball imitations and regaled each other with renditions of various pronouncements in his “voice.” It’s a “must-hear.” Especially when you use backwards syntax, a la’ Yoda.
    Hell, it’s 2:23 a.m. and I’m so freakin’ sleepy. Kirby, Dog Boy, CALL ME!!!!!

  9. Becky, Becky, dearest, reading hte words “dog boy” broght back bitter-sweet memories of days of your! It seams like it was only ysterday when you, me, Kirby, Unfrozen Caveman gospel docturine teacher, et al, were meating each other at Sunstoned together in DC and heaving a really big dinner htat night afterwards! And when you spayed Kirby with th coke bottle–that was funny. He’s nevr beeen th same since! And then you started playing piano and we all joined in sinning together! But now i’m boring everyone. Gotta stop now–blackberery’s wearing out my thumbs. But We haveto do that again. Stay in touch!

  10. I don’t think many Mormons are very funny, to tell the truth. Except for some of the personal blogs I read–all by women–Kristen J is funny. Kacy is funny. Tracy M is funny. The Mormon Mommy Wars bloggers are funny.

    As for professionals, some of the best have been women. Lucy Ball, Gilda Radner, Lily Tomlin, Madeline Kahn…

    I think a lot of Mormons take things too seriously and/or are just too nice to be very funny. Probably mostly the latter. I’m really hoping anyway–taking things (or yourself) too seriously is really irritating.

  11. Steve Evans says:

    Becky! Who knew you’d be able to find… I mean, so glad you could find us! Sorry to have left you out in the cold, but some people are easier to reach than others… Ed & Kirby are as ubiquitous on the internet as cheap Viagra and insurance quotes.

  12. “You don’t have Mormonism as a “culture” down there, or anywhere else but the Jell-O Belt,”

    I disagree, Southern Alberta is Utah’s mini-me.

  13. Since when is Bednar German?

    Btw, I grew up living next door to Laurie Johnson, and her name is Laurie Mecham now. But as far as I know, she really has nothing to do with the Church anymore, not even in a satirical capacity.

  14. Steve Evans says:

    Bednar, Uchtdorf, it’s all the same to me.

  15. Ed,
    Whattaya mean you’re stuck with only half a phrase on your parody of Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition. The only possible parody is “Praise to the man, and pass the admonition”.
    Respectfully submitted,
    Peonicus

  16. I know I’m funny. I don’t do it on purpose, it’s sort of a natural gift. Well, maybe I’m not really funny. Maybe we Mormons are so serious that when somebody tells the truth (oh, for instant, are you sick of Brother Peacock telling us how much he loves his wife), we’ve been thinking the same thing and so we laugh. Maybe I’m just honest.

    But, I think I’m funny. Or maybe I can just see what’s funny, like when my mom does things.

    Never mind. I’m either funny or honest or have a sense of humor. Or all three. Or maybe it’s the same thing.

  17. Sorry it took me so long to get back to all of you. Here are some suggested fill-in-the-blanks for “Praise to the Man and Pass the [___________________]” (a couple of them from readers of this blog). I’ve taken the liberty to put them into handy categories for your future reference:

    Standard’s Night Themes:

    Ensign
    Sacrament (NOT!)
    Prohibition
    Skin Condition (if you’re not worthy)
    The Missionary Position

    [this last one puzzled me at first till I realized it was a simple and heartfelt plea for potential sister missionaries to not worry about their inability to achieve "zone leader" or any other ranking while serving a mission]

    Word of Wisdom Lesson Titles:

    Diet Coke
    Jack Daniels BH Roberts!
    Kidney Stone
    Mortician

    General Conf. Talk Titles:

    Admonition
    Inspired Translation
    Contrition
    Revelation
    Mammon-ition

    Sunstone Paper Topics:

    Membership Attrition
    Joseph Smith as Magician
    Unrighteous Dominion
    Alcohol Inhibitions
    Strengthening the Members Committee Inquisition

  18. Steve Evans says:

    mammon-ition. I love it!

  19. Ooops. Forgot one, but should ask for Steve’s permission to post it first.

    (Steve, I’m human too and forget things–and I was like so quick to judge you earlier!)

  20. Steve Evans says:

    Ed, around here we don’t ask for permission — we ask for forgiveness. Post away.

  21. (The category is mine, the fill-in-the-blank is Steve’s)

    Temple Marriage Prep Class Manual Lesson Topic Rejected by the Correlation Committee:

    Viagra

  22. I’m not much of a poster, but I had this thought while reading the emails.

    Humor from other countries intagrated into mormon humor would be very difficult, and the other way around, which is why many of the GA’s probably don’t try to joke around in their talks. Once the talk is translated into 200+ languages the joke would probably end up sounding stupid or become an incomplete sentence.

    Once, on my mission, an American doctor (couple missionary with his wife) came and talked during a zone conferance. He only spoke English and a missionary translated for the Spanish-only speakers in the group. The doctor kept telling jokes during his talk that we English speakers thought were funny, but most of them were impossible to translate, and when they did translate them, they sounded dumb, meaning all the English speakers were rolling on the ground laughing, while the natives just stood there in bewilderment.

  23. Funniest GA–

    Funniest talk I can remember was by Kenneth Johnson–a British (I think) member of the 70. The talk was given in the October 2002 Conference. He told the funniest story about running away from the neighbors’ dog. He had everyone in stitches.

  24. Cherie Woodworth says:

    Hi – a belated addition to this thread, since I just, by a very round about way, heard from Kent Larsen who recommended me.
    By way of explanation – I was a funny Mormon from 1997 (“Farmer in the Dell”) until 2000. Why did I stop? Because I found that there was other stuff I wanted to write which was not funny; and funny stuff is so sought after (and in short supply — at least relative to demand) that once I had a reputation for writing funny people were disappointed if I wrote something that was serious. That’s kind of a bummer.
    I think I stopped also because I couldn’t find a good balance between being read and appreciated and being the center of attention. It’s *not* a reward to me to be complimented on being funny; it’s kind of embarassing. (I suspect that this is a gender difference — guys like being the class clown.) So the more people praised it, the more uncomfortable it made me. On the other hand, I do want to know that I’m hitting the target — a “heh heh, that was a good one” is all I need.
    And finally, with Mormon stuff, you think “Why are the old absurdities STILL absurd after 5 or 10 years?” There’s this point about “Why doesn’t it get better?” So huge kudos to Kirby and anybody else who can still keep it up. The Mormons need a little healthy deflation and a regular jab in the backside.
    And as for funny women — Becky Linford IS funny, and, I would dare say, funny in a way that no man could get away with (at least no straight man).

  25. I'm too sexy for my church. . . says:

    Can I tell you that I almost cried when I found your site? I am a Nauvoo generation mormon, married in temple, stay home mom, seriously disillusioned woman, struggling not to lose all sense of humor about the church. I have been in a ward for about 6 years now that is stifling the life out of me. Is there a place where I can be funny, expressive, (slightly) irreverent, ask really-not-so-probing questions, dress differently, vote democrat, and use the word ‘ass’ a lot in casual conversation, and not be accused of becoming “apostate”–literally–straight from the bishops mouth? Are there really others out there?

    Seriously, you guys may save me from searching all the anti-mormon sites every Sunday after yet another uninspiring 3 hours of church ( and yes, I know if I don’t feel the spirit, it’s my fault and not those giving the agonizingly tortuous Relief Society lessons that speak over and over about drinking and smoking keeping you from the temple but never mention eating yourself into type 2 diabetes and then covering your 300lb. ‘temple’ up with a denim jumper as something we should concern ourselves with).

    I’m scared to become bitter. . . .help me.

    P.S. can anyone explain the temple to me?

  26. Sexy,
    Welcome to BCC.

  27. Too sexy, here’s a prescription–take it a couple of times a week, and if that’s not enough, buy all of Kirby’s books (you can do that anyway–no risk of taking too much):

    http://www.sltrib.com/search/ci_3626062

  28. Could you guys point me to Round Two? I think I read round one, but I’m blanking out.

    My favorite best line from Kirby is I Dreamed I went to Hell and it was in Delta, Utah.

    My ex-husband was from Delta.

    I’ve used that line, but substituted other places, too. Like Tonopah, Nevada. or Pioche. Like that.

  29. too sexy – head over to Feminist Mormon Housewives, and you’ll find a lot of us out there!

  30. Here, you go annegb.

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