Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Funny Bones, 1938

Funny Bones, 1938

By: Ardis E. Parshall - July 10, 2008

Keepapitchinin’s ongoing determination to bring you the (ahem) finest in the Mormon cultural heritage is responsible for these gems, culled from the humor pages of The Instructor, 1938.

It Flew

Teacher: “Lot was warned to take his wife and daughter and flee out of the city. Lot and his wife and daughter got safely away.”

Willie: “What happened to the flea, sir?”

Spare Parts

“What are you doing now?”

“I have found a new circus turn – the friendship of a lion and a goat.”

“But aren’t there quarrels between them?”

“Oh, yes, they have their little quarrels, but then we buy a new goat.”

A Short Stop

Boogy: “I’ll have you know I’m a self-made man.”

Woogy: “Yes, so I have assumed. But who interrupted you?”


Once upon a time, an enterprising poultryman crossed his hens with parrots to save time. He had formerly spent much time hunting the eggs, but now the hens walk up to him and say, “Hank, I just laid an egg. Go get it!”

Don’t Ask

He: “I’m thinking of asking some girl to marry me. What do you think of the idea?”

She: “It’s a great idea, if you ask me.”


Aunt Irma – Albert, aren’t you sometimes afraid you’ll lose control of the car?

Albert – Constantly, Aunt Irma. I’m three installments behind already.

Stop Watch, Huh?

“Did your watch stop when it hit the floor?”

“Sure, did you think it would go on through?”

There It Is

There was a new brakeman on that railroad in Wales which goes to that place called Llanfairfeshanpwllgyll-gagerogoch. When the train reached this station the brakeman – who himself had never mastered the pronunciation of the name – pointed to the sign and bellowed: “If there’s anybody here for there, this is it.”

Poor Man!

The anxiously expectant father had been pacing the room nervously biting his nails, when the nurse appeared with the news that he had a baby daughter.

“Thank the Lord, it’s a girl,” said the father. “She’ll never have to endure what I have gone through.”

Careful, Bud

“Last night I dreamed I married the most beautiful woman in the world.”

“How lovely. Were we happy?”


Wragg: “So Chubbwitt’s stenographer has left him. What was the reason?”

Waffle: “She came into the office one day and caught him kissing his wife.”

You Tell Him, Olie

“Why is a pancake like the sun?”

“Dot’s easy,” answered the Swede. “It rises out of der yeast, and sets behind der vest.”


Lady in Restaurant: “Why don’t you shoo your flies?”

Chef: “Well, you see, it’s so hot today I thought I would just let them run around barefooted.”

A Bedroom Story

George: “When I was in England I saw a bed twenty feet long.”

Harvey: “That sounds like a lot of bunk to me.”

That’s Different

Smith: “Have you noticed how a woman lowers her voice whenever she asks for anything?”

Jones: “Oh, yes. But have you noticed how she raises it if she doesn’t get it?”

How to Do It

Boogy – I hear you made money out of the stock market.

Woogy – You bet. Been out of it all my life.


School superintendent: “Mrs. Jones, we punished your son because he was willful and unruly in the classroom.”

Mrs. Jones: “I won’t have it. He is a delicate child and not used to harsh means. At home we never hit him except in self-defense.”

He Wondered Where

A farmer ran in to tell a neighbor that his wife had suddenly gone insane. “I don’t know where she could have caught that insanity germ,” he added. “She ain’t been outside our kitchen for 25 years.”


Comrade Harry Moses writes us about a boy who could not pronounce the letter “r” correctly. His teacher, trying to improve the lad’s speech, asked him to repeat:

“Robert gave Richard a rap in the ribs for roasting the rabbit so rare.”

After a moment’s thought, the boy said: “Bobby gave Dick a poke in the side for not cooking the bunny enough.”

The Way of Justice

Motorist: “I had the right of way when this man ran into me, yet you say I was to blame.”

Cop: “You certainly were.”

Motorist: “Why?”

Cop: “Because his father’s the mayor, his brother’s the chief of police, and I’m engaged to his sister.”

He Got His Answer

Bessie – No, Mr. Smartboy, I’m not ready to marry.

Billy – Will you let me know when you are?

Bessie – Yes, I’ll send you a wedding announcement.

“There Sure Would!”

Woman Passenger: “Does this street car stop at the river?”

Conductor: “There’d be a terrible splash if it didn’t!”




  1. Most of these would have fit well on “Think and Grin,” the “funny” page in Boys’ Life.

    But the one about the stenographer catching the boss kissing his wife–aren’t they walking a bit close to the line there? (Good on ’em, I say!)

    Comment by Mark B. — July 10, 2008 @ 7:31 am

  2. Mark, one of these days when I figure out how to frame it in an acceptable way, I’m going to do a compilation of some terribly racist “humor” that appeared very frequently in the magazines (not so much from c. 1938, but definitely in the ‘teens and ‘twenties). And in that era, they maybe even crossed *our* line in the boss-kissing-wife category. Definitely a tougher age!

    I haven’t found it yet, but I’m also looking for the point where we crossed from generic American humor to collecting or writing jokes based on Mormon culture. That’ll be fun to look at, won’t it?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 10, 2008 @ 8:23 am

  3. I don’t know if my memory is playing tricks on me, but I have a hazy memory of hearing a joke in a stake priesthood meeting back in the 60s, which involved two tigers in a bar, a barmaid, a quick meal, a stomachache and the punchline: “It must have been that barbiturate.”

    I suspect that joke would go in the sexist rather than the racist pigeonhole.

    So, my questions: anybody else ever heard this joke? and, anybody ever heard it at church?

    Comment by Mark B. — July 10, 2008 @ 10:07 am

  4. Yes, Ardis, I agree. It would be interesting to see if and how the Church publications went from adopting national humor to more local, home-grown humor. I still find it somewhat curious that there was *any* national humor in the publications. So, thanks.

    Also, I would think you could successfully do a compilation of the terrible racist “humor” you mention in an appropriate way. Perhaps you could just present the post, and then not open it to comments? Anyhow, I think it would be instructive, historically, to see how far (or not) we’ve come.

    Comment by Hunter — July 10, 2008 @ 10:12 am

  5. I notice that most of the jokes in this post revolve around the pun, the deliberate misunderstanding, the conflict between disparate types (lion-goat, male-female, secretary-wife). Some of them were seriously funny, which is more than can usually be said about Boy’s Life.

    2 & 4- I personally don’t see any purpose in dredging up old racist humor. But that’s just me.

    As far as sexist humor goes, a couple of weeks ago the high council speaker subjected us to a long, involved, rather horrible joke about someone’s wife running away with a police officer.

    Lots of laughter at the punchline, mostly from the older, single male population of the ward. In previous years I would have smiled at the joke (out of politeness since I was sitting on the stand) but I think I’ve either matured past that point or am simply too jaded to worry any more about what people think.

    On another topic, I was exposed, very briefly, as a child visiting Eastern Arizona, to humor poking fun at the Scandinavian settlers. I’m sure there’s not much of it left anymore since the old Scandinavian families have been assimilated by now. If that’s what you mean by racist humor, pour it on. There’s the old standby about the bishop calling Brother Peterson to pray. A dozen men stand up. “I meant Pete Peterson!” Two of them sit down.

    A few gems from Sanpete Tales would be appreciated sometime if there’s a copy of that kicking around one of those SLC libraries.

    Comment by Researcher — July 10, 2008 @ 1:53 pm

  6. Mark B: one form of that joke is found by googling:
    “musta been that barbiturate”

    Comment by Bookslinger — July 10, 2008 @ 8:51 pm

  7. […] War. So, I don’t know, it’s nice to know that he had a [not politically correct, but it took a long time for the humor in the Church to change] sense of humor about it […]

    Pingback by Blog Segullah : Funny Pioneer Stories — July 24, 2008 @ 10:55 pm

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