QuickHoney for Reader's Digest
When people hear that I founded National Lampoon and produced Animal House and the Vacation films, they always make the same demand: “Say something funny!” So I tell them about the time I ran into the comedian Henny Youngman at the racetrack. “Henny, how are you doing?” I asked. He said, “Matty, I bet on the politest horse ever. He let all the other horses go in front of him.” I invited my favorite comedians, funny actors, and humorists from over the decades to share a joke or a quote that cracks them up. Let’s see if their gags are funnier than mine. —Matty Simmons
A guy goes ice fishing for the very first time. All of a sudden, he hears a voice. “There are no fish under the ice!” He ignores it and moves to another area, cuts a hole, and tosses his line in. Again, he hears the booming voice: “There are no fish under the ice!”
He nervously looks up and asks, “Lord? Is that you?”
“No, this is the rink manager!”
—Six-time Emmy Award–winning actress Allison Janney, who stars in Mom (CBS)
“Don’t ask me about my pan pizza, it’s personal.”
— Doug Benson, quoting Megan Neuringer
“I like an escalator because an escalator can never break. It can only become stairs. There would never be an Escalator Temporarily Out of Order sign, only Escalator Temporarily Stairs.”
—Cole Bolton, editor in chief of the Onion, quoting Mitch Hedberg
Two pirates, Morty and Sol, meet in a bar. Sol has a patch over one eye, a hook for a hand, and a wooden peg leg. “Ye gads, matey,” says Morty. “What happened to ya?”
Sol says, “Me pirate ship was attacked, and a lucky shot lopped off me leg. So now I got me a wooden peg.”
“And yer hand?” asks Marty.
“When me ship sank, a shark bit me hand off. So now I got me a hook.”
“OK, but what’s with the eye patch?”
“I was standin’ on a dock, and the biggest seagull I ever saw poops right in me eye.”
“But ya don’t go blind from no seagull poop.”
“True,” says Sol. “But it was me first day with the hook.”
—Jason Alexander, who played George on Seinfeld and recently appeared on Broadway in A Fish in the Dark
“Here’s all you have to know about men and women: Women are crazy … Men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid.”
—Rod Man, who won Last Comic Standing in 2014, quoting “a simple but great one from George Carlin”
My favorite joke of all time is: “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?”
—Gary Gulman, a finalist on Last Comic Standing, has appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers and Inside Amy Schumer.
Scene: From the TV show Parks and Recreation. Ron Swanson, a manly and prodigious eater, has told a coworker that the hot dog/hamburger stand in the bowling alley is his favorite restaurant.
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Coworker: “Really? Aren’t you scared to eat there?”
Ron Swanson: “When I eat, it is the food that is scared.”
—Mike Schur, cocreator of Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine
“I’d like to think that halfway through Nicole Kidman’s last name there’s a tiny bar mitzvah.”
—Megan Amran, Twitter Queen, author, and former writer/producer Parks & Recreation, quoting Justin Shanes
We weren’t very religious. On Hanukkah, my mother had our menorah on a dimmer.
—Comedian Richard Lewis, who costarred in Curb Your Enthusiasm and is the author of Reflections from Hell
“I was never a popular kid. In high school, I ran for president and someone shot at me.”
—Brian Kiley, a former writer for Conan and the author of The Astounding Misadventures of Rory Collins, quoting Bill Braudis
A frugal widow goes to the newspaper to take out an obituary notice for her late husband. “How much?” she asks the fellow behind the counter.
“One dollar per word,” he says.
She says, “Make it ‘MacGregor died.’”
“It’s a five-word minimum.”
She nearly faints but collects herself. “Very well, make it ‘MacGregor died. Volvo for sale.’”
—Humorist Christopher Buckley, whose book The Relic Master comes out in December
“Last night, I blew 5,000 bucks on a reincarnation seminar. I figured, What the hell; you only live once.”
—Comedian Jonathan Katz, who starred in the animated sitcom Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, quoting Ronnie Shakes, “one of Carson’s favorites”
It’s the Soviet Union, circa 1980s. A husband has been standing in line at a butcher shop for seven hours when the butcher announces, “Comrades, I am sorry to inform you that we are out of meat.”
The husband blows his top. “I am a worker! I am a socialist! I am a veteran of the Great Patriotic War!” he yells. “And now you tell me you’re out of meat! This country stinks!!!”
A large man in a trenchcoat approaches. “Comrade, Comrade, calm yourself,” he says. “You know what would have happened to you in the old days if you had talked this way.” The large man makes a thumb and forefinger motion at his temple and says, “So please, Comrade, go home.”
The husband goes home empty-handed and his wife asks, “Are they out of meat?”
“Worse than that,” says the husband. “They’re out of bullets.”
—Humorist P. J. O’Rourke is the author of THE BABY BOOM: How It Got That Way… And It Wasn’t My Fault… And I’ll Never Do It Again. “I was told this one in the USSR in 1982,” he says. “Maybe the humor was particularly sharp because it was the only weapon people had.”
“Every place is within walking distance if you have enough time.”
—Bob Mankoff, cartoon editor of The New Yorker, quoting Steven Wright. “Steven is one of my favorite cartoonists because his jokes are so pure and concise,” Mankoff says.
Nick, a down-on-his-luck ventriloquist hears there’s money to be made throwing his voice and tricking widows into believing he can talk to their dearly departed husbands. So he opens shop.
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“My name is Sadie,” says his first customer. “I want to talk to my late husband, Saul.”
Nick closes his eyes and “summons” Saul. “Saul, Sadie is here. Can you hear me, Saul?” Then Nick throws his voice. “Sadie, is that you? It’s me, Saul.”
“Saul?” said Sadie. “I have so much to tell you!”
Nick breaks in. “I’m afraid your time is up.”
“It can’t be! What can I get for $100?”
“For $100 you can talk to Saul for five minutes.”
“Only five minutes? What can I get for $300?”
Nick gets excited: “For $300 you can talk to Saul for five minutes while I drink a glass of water!”
—John Ficarra is the editor-in-chief of Mad Magazine
In heaven, there were two huge signs. The first read, Men Who Did What Their Wives Told Them to Do. The line of men under this sign stretched as far as the eye could see. The second sign stated, Men Who Did What They Wanted to Do. Only one man stood under that sign. Intrigued, St. Peter said to the lone man, “No one has ever stood under this sign. Tell me about yourself.” The man shrugged and said, “Not much to say; my wife told me to stand here.”
—Oscar Nuñez, who played Oscar Martinez on The Office
A skeleton walks into a bar. The bartender says, “What’ll you have?” The skeleton says, “Gimme a beer and a mop.”
—John Goodman (Roseanne, Argo, The Big Lebowski) and Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters, The Blues Brothers) both sent us this gag. Said Goodman, “Not only is this the only clean joke I know, but it’s the only joke I know.”
“My boyfriend and I broke up. He wanted to get married, and I didn’t want him to.”
—Comedian Joe DeVito, who was a regular on Chelsea Lately, quoting Rita Rudner
A Hollywood starlet tells her doctor that her body hurts all over.
“Show me,” says the doctor.
So she pokes her forearm and screams in pain. Then she touches her thigh and screams again. She pokes her toe and screams.
“I think I know what the problem is,” he says. “You have a broken finger.”
—Jon Rappaport, who was the head writer of the TV show M*A*S*H
Two racehorses are in the stable. One says to the other, “You know, before that last race—”
“The one that you won?” asks the other horse.
“Yeah; before that last race, I felt a pinch in my hindquarters.”
The other horse says, “Funny, I felt a pinch in my hindquarters before the race that I won.”
A dog walking by says, “You idiots; you’re being doped. They’re injecting you with a drug to make you run faster!”
One horse turns to the other and says, “Hey, a talking dog!”
—Penn Jillette, the tall, chatty half of the comedy and magic duo Penn & Teller
“My father was a night watchman, but he was a victim of technology. He was replaced by a lock.”
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—Colin Quinn, a Saturday Night Live alum, quoting Stu Trivax; Quinn costarred alongside Amy Schumer and Bill Hader this past summer in Trainwreck.
A man comes to Mrs. Smith’s door and says, “There’s been an accident at the brewery. Your husband fell into a vat of beer and drowned.”
Mrs. Smith wails, “Oh, the poor man! He never had a chance!”
The man says, “I don’t know about that. He got out three times to go to the bathroom.”
—Michael Reiss, Emmy Award–winning writer and producer of The Simpsons
During D-Day, an American GI phoned in to his base, “The Germans are shooting at me.” The base replied, “How do you know?” He yells back: “Because they’re hitting me.”
—Al Jean, the head writer of The Simpsons, quoting a true story reported in the Stephen Ambrose book Citizen Soldiers.
There are two times a man should wear white pants; One, if you’re in the navy. Two, never.
—Comedian Greg Proops appears on Whose Line Is It Anyway, and is the author of The Smartest Book in the World
“If I was an Olympic athlete, I’d rather come in last than win the silver medal. You win the gold, you feel good. You win the bronze, you think, ‘at least I got something.’ But you win that silver, that’s like, ‘Congratulations, you almost won! Of all the losers, you came in first! You’re the number one loser! No one lost ahead of you!’”
—Teddy Wayne, quoting Jerry Seinfeld, is the author of the novels Loner (coming out in 2016), The Love Song of Jonny Valentine and Kapitoil
Darling, you’ve always been with me on life’s long, bumpy ride.
Through sickness, hair loss, bankruptcy,
You’ve been here by my side.
My heart attack and the house burning down,
That night the lightning struck.
And liver cancer—and now suddenly,
I’m starting to think that you’re bad luck.
—Comedian Erica Rhodes, who appears on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. “My uncle told this to me over dinner, and I laughed so hard.”
Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, “Don’t do it!”
He said, “Nobody loves me.”
I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?”
He said, “Yes.”
I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?”
He said, “A Christian.”
I said, “Me too! Protestant or Catholic?”
He said, “Protestant.”
I said, “Me too! What franchise?”
He said, “Baptist.”
I said, “Me too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?”
He said, “Northern Baptist.”
I said, “Me too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”
He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.”
I said, “Me too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?”
He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.”
I said, “Me too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879 or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?”
He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.”
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I said, “Die, heretic!” And I pushed him off the bridge.
— Eugene Mirman, sharing an Emo Philips gag
A grasshopper walks into a bar and the bartender says, “Hey, we have a drink named after you.” The grasshopper says, “Really? In that case, give me a Kyle!”
— Emo Philips
“Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will clean them?”
—George Carlin, as quoted by Sebastian Maniscalco, whose Showtime comedy special Aren’t You Embarrassed? is now on DVD
“I wrote a letter to my dad. I wrote, ‘I really enjoyed being here,’ but I accidentally wrote rarely instead of really. But I still wanted to use it, so I crossed it out and wrote, ‘I rarely drive steamboats, Dad. There’s a lot of stuff you don’t know about me. Quit trying to act like I’m a steamboat operator.’”
—“This letter took a really harsh turn right away,” says comedian Mike Birbiglia, of his favorite Mitch Hedberg gag. Birbiglia costarred in Trainwreck this summer and appears regularly on Orange Is the New Black.
“I had a bag of Fritos; they were Texas Grilled Fritos. These Fritos had grill marks on them. They remind me of when we used to fire up the barbecue and throw down some Fritos. I can still see my dad with the apron on. ‘Better flip that Frito, Dad; you know how I like mine.’”
—Comedian and former Saturday Night Live cast member Brooks Wheelan, with yet another Mitch Hedberg gag
“I was watching Sesame Street and realized that it teaches kids how to judge people. That’s right. They got this one character named Oscar. They treat this guy like dirt the entire show. ‘Oscar, you are so mean. Isn’t he, kids?’ ‘Yeah. Oscar, you’re a grouch!’ He’s, like, “I live in a @#$%^&% trash can!’ So don’t tell me how to get to Sesame Street. I wouldn’t go there if I knew the way.”
—Saturday Night Live’s Jay Pharoah, quoting a Dave Chapelle routine.
A low roller stops a man at a Vegas casino. He says, “Hey buddy, can you give me $5,000?”
The man asks, “What for?”
The low roller says, “My mother needs an operation to regain her eyesight.”
The man asks, “How do I know you won’t just take this money and spend it at the casino?”
The low roller says, “Oh, I got gambling money …”
—Comedian Rick Overton
“I always handle being dumped really well. I act really cool about it while it’s happening because deep down I’m hoping that maybe the guy will be so impressed that he’ll take me back on the spot. A guy told me ‘It’s over because I don’t love you,’ and I was like, ‘I get it, man. Totally. The heart wants what it wants.’ I thought maybe he’d say, ‘Wow, you’re handling this with a lot of composure…I could use a girl like you on my team.’”
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—Aparna Nancherla, quoting fellow New York City comedian Jacqueline Novak
“Understand that a man wants a woman who encourages him without nagging him. He wants a woman who believes in his dream, even though she knows he can’t do it. Your man come home talking about he’s going to quit his good job at the post office because he want to be an astronaut? Don’t say anything. Just pull out your sewing machine and make him an astronaut outfit. Mix him up some Tang, slice him up some cheese and tell him—‘GET UP! You gonna be late for the moon!’ Push him out the door and say, ‘call me when you get a break on the moon!’”
—Aisha Tyler, quoting a routine from her The Talk co-host Sheryl Underwood
A mother asks her young sons what they want for breakfast. The first little boy says, “I’ll have some @#$%^& pancakes.” The mother angrily sends him to his room for cursing.
She glares at the other little boy and asks, “What do you want for breakfast?!”
The second boy says, “Well, I sure don’t want the @#$%^& pancakes!”
—Bill Engvall, who was part of the Blue Collar Comedy group with Jeff Foxworthy
The only cow in a small Russian village stopped giving milk, so the villagers went to Minsk and bought a new one. The cow produced lots of milk, and the people were so happy, they decided to buy a bull to mate with the cow and produce more cows like it. But the cow wanted nothing to do with the bull, constantly moving away every time Ferdinand approached. So the people asked their wise rabbi what to do.
After some reflection, the rabbi asked, “Did you buy this cow from Minsk?”
“You are truly wise,” said the townspeople. “How did you know?”
The rabbi answered sadly, “Because my wife is from Minsk.”
—John Landis, who directed Animal House, Trading Places, and The Blues Brothers
A timid little man was seated in the window seat of an airplane next to a scowling brute of a guy. The little man was terrified of flying, and as soon as the plane took off, he felt sick. But his seatmate was fast asleep, and he couldn’t figure out how to get past him to the bathroom. And then it was too late; he got sick all over the big guy.
As he frantically wiped up the mess, careful not to wake the giant, the brute’s eyes flew open. The timid man smiled and said in a shaky voice, “Feeling better now?”
—Arthur Hiller, award-winning director of the tearjerker Love Story and also director of the classic comedy The In-Laws
A guy approached a priest to request a funeral for his dog. The priest explained he couldn’t do that, but the man insisted. Sorry, why don’t you ask the Protestant minister across the street,” says the priest.
“That’s too bad, Father,” said the disconsolate man as he was leaving. “There was going to be a thousand dollar stipend.”
The priest stopped him: “Why didn’t you tell me your dog was Catholic?”
—Cindy Williams, who played “Shirley” on Laverne & Shirley, quoting a gag from a play she starred in, Meshuggah-Nuns!
“I don’t want to travel on any type of transportation where the public has access to the emergency brake. I would hate to go off the track at a hundred miles an hour because ‘Gus’ thought he saw a woodchuck.”
—Billy Gardell, who plays Officer Mike Biggs on Mike & Molly (CBS), and hosts the Monopoly Millionaires’ Club, quoting Dennis Miller
What kind of bees give milk? Boo Bees.
—Comedian Tom Cotter was a runner-up on America’s Got Talent