Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » May 2005 » A Non-Home Companion

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05/15/2005: A Non-Home Companion

Garrison Keillor (Prairie Home Companion) has a Q&A section of his webpage. Here is a GEM from an oft times listener (or is that a *non-listener* since he fails to understand the humor or any of the sense of the fictional world of Lake Wobegon and wonders…”Why am I listening to this show...?”)

"Q: Every once in a while I stumble upon your show on 90.9FM on Saturdays between 6 and 7:30. I am utterly perplexed. Every time I hear your show I can't help but stay tuned — in my never-ending quest to understand the world around me.

I send this email with respect. It is obvious that you and your cast are extremely talented.

But no matter how long I listen to your show I never get any of the jokes. I don't understand why people are laughing. Yesterday I listened for a half hour while driving to the airport. I listened because I wanted to figure out if you used a laugh track. A laugh track was the only thing that made sense to me. A small group of people with a single "laugh" button made a lot more sense than an entire auditorium filled with people who found your jokes funny.

Let me give you a specific example:

"If you are looking for an amusement park that also stresses values, bring your family to six flags over scripture"

An auditorium laughs on cue. And then you describe 10 different rides with descriptions that make the auditorium laugh on cue again. Here is my question: What about this joke is funny? Is it me? Am I too young to understand? How could an entire auditorium filled with people find this funny? I sat there, like I always do, with a blank perplexed stare.

And now I am writing to you for some help. Here is a little bit about me that may help you to diagnose the problem: I graduated from NJIT summa cum laude with a degree in statistics. I am an actuary. I read a lot. I like the music you play. I am unmarried, and I am from New Jersey.

Bobby Hancock

A: Bobby, explaining a joke usually doesn't make it funny, but Six Flags Over Scripture is a fictional amusement park with rides taken from the Bible, e.g. Ezekiel's Wheel, and The Jordan River Underwater Ride (total immersion guaranteed), and The Parting of the Red Sea.

I guess it's only funny if you went to Sunday School and heard those stories. But maybe not. We try. But we don't try too hard. Maybe you shouldn't either.

Just send us some actuary jokes. Funny ones, that is. "

I've been listening to this show since 1974 and it still remains an understated, but quitessentially funny, droll and witty commentary of Mid-Western living. Maybe Mr. Hancock needs to travel more to appreciate the insights and hillarity of Keillor's imagination (or atleast get outside of New Jersey).

Karen on 05.15.05 @ 05:52 PM CST

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