The naughty postcard museum

The British have always been famous for their humor, both dry wit and the naughtier brand. One man who combined the two is being celebrated in a new museum that opened in Ryde in the Isle if Wight yesterday.

Donald McGill, Britain’s “king of vulgarity”, illustrated thousands of postcards over an almost sixty-year career. He was best known for simple double-entedres like the one pictured to the right. He also has the distinction of making it into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most sales of an individual postcard–one featuring a bookish man and an attractive young woman sitting under a tree. The guy peers over a volume and asks the girl, “Do you like Kipling?” to which she replies, “I don’t know, you naughty boy, I’ve never kippled!” That sold more than six million copies.

One of his most popular, and most controversial, shows two men admiring an attractive woman as one says to the other, “She’s a nice girl. Doesn’t drink or smoke, and only swears when it slips out!”

In the age of Internet pornography these barely qualify for a PG rating, but in Britain before the Sixties they shocked stogy traditional sensibilities. In 1953 many local jurisdictions raided the shops selling his postcards and burned any they found. The next year at the age of 79, McGill had to face what the museum’s curator called a “show trial” for obscenity. He got off with a fine, but the ruling almost killed the saucy postcard industry.

The Donald McGill Museum website is still under construction but shows some more examples of McGill’s work.

Photo courtesy Donald McGill via Wikimedia Commons.

A priest, a rabbi, and… Kim Jong-il?

If you’re like me, you probably don’t associate North Korea with comedy. But after reading the jokes below, told by North Korean defectors to Radio Free Asia, well… you still won’t. The jokes, most of which lampoon Kim Jong-il and the North Korean police state, bring to mind a North Korean Yakov Smirnoff.

Here are a few of the North Korean knee-slappers (more here):

Chang Man Yong works on a collective farm in North Korea. He goes fishing, gets lucky, and brings a fish home. Happy about his catch, he tells his wife: “Look what I’ve got. Shall we eat fried fish today?”

The wife says: “We’ve got no cooking oil!”

“Shall we stew it, then?”

“We’ve got no pot!”

“Shall we grill it?”

“We’ve got no firewood!”

Chang Man Yong gets angry, goes back to the river, and throws the fish back into the water.

The fish, happy to have had such a narrow escape, sticks its head out of the water and cheerfully yells: “Long live General Kim Jong-il!”

Ba-dum ching!

Kim Jong Il and Vladimir Putin are having a summit meeting in Moscow.

During a break, they’re bored, and they decide to take a bet to see whose bodyguards are more loyal.

Putin is on the 20th floor and calls on his bodyguard Ivan, opens the window, and says: “Ivan, jump!”

Sobbing, Ivan says: “Mr. President, how can you ask me to do that? I have a wife and child waiting for me at home”

Putin sheds a tear himself, apologises to Ivan, and sends him away.

Next, it’s Kim Jong Il’s turn. He calls his bodyguard Lee Myung Man and yells: “Lee Myung Man, jump!”

Not hesitating for a split second, Lee Myung Man is just about to jump out the window.

Putin grabs Lee Myung Man to prevent him from jumping and says: “Are you out of your mind? If you jump out this window, you’ll die! This is the 20th floor!”

Nevertheless, Lee Myung Man is still struggling, trying to escape Putin’s embrace and jump out the window: “Mr. Putin, please let me go! I have a wife and child at home!”

Alright, I’ll admit that wasn’t bad. And finally…

An Englishman, a Frenchman, and a North Korean are having a chat. The Englishman says: “I feel happiest when I’m at home, my wool pants on, sitting in front of the fireplace.”

The Frenchman, a ladies’ man, says: “You English people are so conventional. I feel happiest when I go to a Mediterranean beach with a beautiful blonde-haired woman, and we do what we’ve got to do on the way back.”

The North Korean man says: “In the middle of the night, the secret police knock on the door, shouting: Kang Sung-Mee, you’re under arrest! And I say, Kang Sung-Mee doesn’t live here, but right next door! That’s when we’re happiest!”

Ha! I just love secret police jokes!

Newark Mayor goes head to head with Conan O’Brien over joke about city

Conan O’Brien recently made a crack about the city of Newark, New Jersey, on The Tonight Show. But it seems the city’s Mayor, Cory Booker, didn’t find it very funny.

“The Mayor of Newark, NJ, wants to set up a citywide program to improve residents’ health. The health care program would consist of a bus ticket out of Newark,” O’Brien said. Ouch.

The Mayor handled it well though, responding with a YouTube video challenging Conan’s perceptions of the city. “You fail to understand our city is one of the fastest growing cities in the Northeast,” he said. He went on to detail the many improvement made to the city, one that he called “a city on the rise.” He then offered a glimpse of resident reactions to Conan’s crack, including the ego-crushing query of one woman: “Who’s Conan O’Brien?”

With a slight grin, Mayor Booker told Conan he was officially on the Newark Airport’s “no fly list” and closed with “Try JFK, buddy.”

Of course, Conan had to fire back.

He said the ban was no problem; he could easily get to Newark through the sewer system, because, “Everyone knows, all sewer pipes lead to Newark.” He invited the Mayor to come on his show to settle things like “men of honor”, adding that the studio was just five minutes from the Burbank Internatonal Airport. . . which the Mayor was now, of course, banned from.

In response to Conan’s egging, Booker posted another video. This time, he’s calling for reinforcements, saying that he has 566 municipalites backing him because “we in New Jersey roll hard, we roll strong, and we roll together.” And Booker didn’t stop there. He says he’s reached out Newark’s Sister Cities all over the world, which means Conan’s not just banned from the entire state of New Jersey, but also from cities in places like Ghana and even Conan’s own ancestral home of Ireland. “CoCo can’t go go,” the Mayor taunts.

He does offer to come on The Tonight Show show to settle the dispute, but only if Conan will first pay a visit to Newark.

Your move, Conan.

Halloween graveyard tours and a graveyard joke

There are haunted prison tours and haunted hotels to sleep in. Here is another way to traipse through some haunts for Halloween.

Graveyards that can seem peaceful during the day are perfect settings at night for finding chills and thrills. If there is a graveyard in a town or city near you, I bet there’s a tour. Regardless of the season, graveyards offer a span of history that includes triumph and sorrow. Each one hold clues and mysteries to the people who have lived before us.

Here’s a Halloween graveyard joke you can say when you are going past a graveyard: “How many people do you think are dead in there?”

(**Continue for answer and a sampling of graveyard tours.)

  • In Alexandria, Virginia, walk along the six blocks on the Ghosts & Graveyard lantern tour with a costumed guide who transports visitors to the 1800s through tales of ghosts and unsolved mysteries. The tour ends in the graveyard. Although Halloween inspired, it goes through November.
  • There are several ghost and graveyard tours in Nova Scotia. Several are offered year-round.
  • Ghosts and Gravestone Trolley Tours of Boston, Massachusetts goes through November 2. This tour is hosted by a 17th century gravedigger who tells tales of Boston’s murderous past. Two of Boston’s oldest graveyards are included.
  • The same company that offers the tour in Boston has similar tours in Savanah, Georgia and St. Augustine, Florida. The Website has a link to haunted tales and while you browse ghost type sounds put you in the mood.
  • In Charleston, South Carolina, there is a tour company that specializes in creepy, scary places. The Charleston Ghost and Graveyard Walking Tours brings people through graveyards where tales of love, loss and prominent people can be found.
  • San Antonio, Texas has several ghost tour options. Many included graveyards, whether you walk or take a vehicle. These tours are also offered year-round.
  • Like San Antonio, San Diego has several ghost tour options. Several include graveyards. If you scroll down the page, you’ll see many links for other ghost and graveyard tours throughout the United States.
  • To amp up a graveyard ghost tour, here’s one that combines a stay in a haunted hotel with a ghost and graveyard tour. This version is in Columbus, Ohio. The Lofts, a boutique hotel that was once a warehouse in the early 1900s has a ghost called “Lady of the Lofts. There’s a package deal that includes a night in the hotel, breakfast and two tickets to “The Haunted Columbus’s Best of 20 Years Bus Tour.” If that tour is sold out the Columbus Landmark’s Foundation has other ghost tours and guided visits through Greenlawn Cemetery. Greenlawn Cemetery is where humorist James Thurber is buried. Perhaps he’d appreciate the graveyard joke.

** Answer to graveyard joke: “All of them.”

This joke gets people every time. Here is the joke in its entirety if you forgot the question.

If you are passing by a graveyard say, using a voice that evokes the idea that you are looking for a number: “How many people are dead in there?”

Answer: “All of them.”

Insults against religion in Italy can get you jail time: Just ask Italian comedienne

I just heard about the Italian comedienne who is facing jail time in Italy for insulting the pope. In Italy, there are laws against insulting religion. If you tell a joke that is against the pope, it can land you in hot water.

According to the story, Italian comedienne, Sabina Guzzanti, a presenter at a rally in Rome this past July, made a joke about what could happen in the after-life to popes who are against gay rights. Now she is facing five years in jail.

Italy is not the only country where people mind their Ps and Qs when talking about certain people and regulations or habits are in place to command respect.

In Thailand, for example, before each movie, there is an ode to the king before the feature film. The audience members stand throughout the king’s anthem and photo montage of images depicting aspects of his life. There isn’t a law that says you have to stand, but everyone does–even tourists like me.

If you don’t stand for the king before a movie, you may feel a bit silly sitting in a sea of waists and legs, but that’s about the worst that can happen, I imagine. If you head to Italy, it seems like when it comes to religion, follow the adage, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

[Here’s an article I came across about the habit of standing up in movies to pay tribute to the king.]