Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » President Hinckley Came By It Honestly

President Hinckley Came By It Honestly

By: Ardis E. Parshall - October 04, 2008

Bryant S. Hinckley – father of President Gordon B. Hinckley, businessman, high school and college administrator, popular public speaker, and president of Salt Lake City’s Liberty Stake (1925-1930+, the largest stake in the church, with a membership approaching 16,000) – used to write and speak on the uses of humor. I can glean some general principles from his writings –

”This delightful quality of the imagination has many uses and is given to few abuses.”

“Humor is built very largely upon incongruities and contrasts. An investigation of a large number of funny stories and their families shows that they are based upon comparatively few subjects, such as mothers-in-law, hen-pecked husbands, fatness, thinness, baldness, stuttering, sea sickness, foreigners, prohibition and politics.”

“The sense of humor varies with the individual.”

“It is a most powerful weapon when used with discretion. Its skillful use easily outweighs logic or lengthy discourse.”

“The sense of humor is a most valuable asset to a teacher, indispensable to the most successful work, and the school room is an easy place to cultivate it.”

– but mostly his talks about humor are compilations of funny stories. Some favorites:

Most Latter-day Saint bishops are obliged to make a living in addition to carrying the responsibilities of their ecclesiastical office, and one smiles and forgives the bishop who, announcing the hymn in a religious gathering, said, “We will now sing from page three dollars and fifty cents.”

Bishops in the course of their calling hear many cases and are asked to advise on many different subjects. A man is reported to have appealed for advice on the following problem:

“Bishop, my wife is getting very extravagant and I am greatly worried. Last week she asked me for $15.00 and then she wanted $10.00 and now she wants $5.00 – what shall I do?” The Bishop said, “What does she do with all her money?” The man, with some hesitation replied, “Well, I don’t know. I haven’t given her any yet.”

A teacher received the following note from the mother of one of her pupils:

“Dear Madam: Please ixcus my Tommy to-day. He wont come to skule because he is acting as time-keeper for his father and it is your fault. U gave him a ixample if a field is 6 miles around how long will it take a man walking 3-1/2 miles an hour to walk 2-1/4 times around it? Tommy aint a man, so we had to send his father. They went early this morning and father will walk around the field and Tommy will time him, but pleas don’t give my boy such ixamples agin, because my husband must go to work every day to support his family.”

A grammar school boy handed in the following composition on cats:

“Cats that’s mean for little boys to maul and tease is called Maultese cats. Some cats is reckernized by how quiet their purrs is and these is named Purrsian cats. The cats what has very bad tempers is called Angorie cats, and cats with deep feelin’s is called Feline cats – but I prefer dogs.”

A very modest young man had been paying his addresses to a young woman. She thought he was not making the advances that she might reasonably expect. However, he took her on an excursion to Park City, and when they were passing through the tunnel at the summit somehow his arm fell about her waist. When they suddenly emerged into broad daylight the conductor was standing in front of them. The young man was greatly embarrassed and rubbing his hands nervously, said, “Mary, do you know that this tunnel cost a million dollars?” “Did it?” she replied. “Well, it is worth it.”

The English, the German, the Irish, all furnish a good supply of rich humor but just now the thrifty and canny Scotchman leads all others in this respect. His thrift is everywhere manifest. You have no doubt read of the Scotchman who wanted to be married in his back yard so the chickens could eat the rice.

Two inmates of a mental hospital were comparing notes. One of them said to the other, “How did they come to get you in here – how did they discover that you were a little looney?” He replied, ‘I do not know, but this happened and they heard about it. I was doing odd jobs for a man in Salt Lake who concluded to sell out and go to California. He said to his agent, ‘If there is anything you cannot sell, give it to my Scotch servant.’ And I said to him, ‘If there is anything your Scotch servant does not want, can I have it?’ And I am here.”



  1. Yes, he certainly did come by it honestly. These made me laugh even more than the regular ones you post – simply because these came from talks. The student’s excuse note, especially, cracked me up.

    Comment by Ray — October 4, 2008 @ 9:09 am

  2. Where do you find these beauties, Ardis? I like the contrast between his scholarly analysis of humor and the actual jokes.

    Comment by Jami — October 4, 2008 @ 9:08 pm

  3. These are great! I am sending this to my husband… he will love these!
    It’s obvious where President Hinckley got his humor from! :]

    Comment by bookwormmama — October 6, 2008 @ 2:24 pm

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