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Literary joke thread

Le Groupe des Mignon Photos

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Aug 18, 2009, 9:26am Top

Aug 18, 2009, 9:30am Top

The following been taken from this website:

Answering machine messages of Jane Austen characters

Mr. Collins and Charlotte:
"Thank you for calling my humble abode. I am inexpressibly sorry that neither I nor my dear Charlotte are at home, but if you would be so kind as to leave your message, I will assure you most sincerely that I shall return your call. This answering machine was paid for and chosen by my patroness, the Honorable Lady Catherine de Burgh, who also wrote this message and directed its execution. Such condescension!"

Lady Catherine de Bourgh:
"I am most seriously displeased to have missed your call. I will return it at my earliest convenience (yours is of no consequence) for I must have my share in the conversation."

Mr. Bennet:
"You wish to leave a message, and I have no objection to you doing so!"

Captain Wentworth:
"The ring of the phone pierces my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman to return calls. Absent I may have been, busy I have been, but never impolite. A message, a number will be enough to decide whether I return your call this evening or never..."

Mary Musgrove:
"I am very ill today and quite unable to answer the phone. If I had a visitor, I suppose that person could have spoken with you, but it does not suit the Miss Musgroves to visit the ill, and I dare not rise from my bed for fear that I may be seized in some dreadful way!"

Lydia Wickham:
"You may leave a message. You will have nothing better to do. I will return your call if I can. But you know married women have never much time for returning calls."

Miss Bates:
"It's so obliging of you to call, but then we have so many obliging friends that we are truly grateful, not that we wouldn't be grateful just for our health, but all these friends are so kind, and I know that you will forgive us for not being here when you called, except that my mother might be in but she can't answer the phone because she's deaf you know, not that she has anything else to disturb her, in fact she's remarkably healthy for her age, and she would answer but she probably hasn't heard the bell, so I'm sure you won't mind, and where was I? Oh yes, if you'd be so good as to leave your message just after the beep, that's the fourth long beep, not the first one, there are three short beeps and then a long one, that's the one to speak after, otherwise the machine won't record your message and we'd be ever so sad if we didn't receive it because I'm sure that it's very interesting, and I will call you just as soon as I get in ..."

Aug 18, 2009, 10:41am Top

Medellia, I LOVE the Austen answering machines! Too funny! :D I have to forward that to some fellow Janeites.

*tries to think of a literary joke to post... no doubt something will turn up later*

Aug 18, 2009, 2:12pm Top

Medellia, the Proust joke is absolute hilarious !!!!

Aug 18, 2009, 2:17pm Top

more jokes please . . .

Edited: Aug 18, 2009, 2:18pm Top

Not sure how well this will translate:

The text reads:
"Bottle empty!" (pronunciation roughly /ˈboʊdəleɪr/)
"Congratulations! But the bookstore is across the road..."

From http://schneeschnee.de/

Aug 18, 2009, 2:19pm Top

Most amusing rfb!

Aug 18, 2009, 2:53pm Top

#6 rfb: Now that's highbrow humor!

Charles Dickens: Please, sir, I'd like a martini.
Bartender: Sure thing. Olive or twist?

James Joyce: I'll take a Guinness.
Bartender: So Charles Dickens was in here yesterday.
James Joyce: (drinks)
Bartender: And he asked for a martini and I said, "Olive or twist?"
James Joyce: (drinks)
Bartender: You see, it's funny because he wrote a book called "Oliver Twist."
James Joyce: What a shitty joke.

Ernest Hemingway: Gin.
Bartender: So Charles Dickens was in here two days ago.
Ernest Hemingway: Joyce already told me that story. Fuck off.

Franz Kafka: I'd like a mineral water.
Bartender: Olive or twist?
Franz Kafka: I can't digest solid food.

Mark Twain: Give me a brandy.
Bartender: So Charles Dickens came in the other day and ordered a martini.
Mark Twain: Did he take an olive or twist? Ha ha ha!
Bartender: (tearful) You did that on purpose, didn't you?

Virginia Woolf: I'll take your second-best cognac and unadulterated experience.
Bartender: We don't have that. This is a bar.
Virginia Woolf: Patriarchy! (drowns)

Aug 18, 2009, 3:56pm Top

( enthoesiast ! ) where do you get all that stuff ?

Aug 18, 2009, 10:19pm Top

#9 Macumbeira: Oh, the things one stumbles across while searching for Entirely Serious Things on Google!

One more tonight, an oldie but a goodie:

Q: What do you get when you cross a Mafioso and a deconstructionist?

A: Someone who makes you an offer you can't understand.

Aug 18, 2009, 11:12pm Top

I don't get #6. Someone point me towards the book I need to read to understand it, please?

Aug 18, 2009, 11:23pm Top

Aug 19, 2009, 6:21am Top

it took me a while to work it out, unlucky. you need to drink half a bottle of vodka, and then say the words 'buddel leer' a few times with a heavy German or French accent. It's a bi-lingual pun: the best kind. Amazing what insights half a bottle of vodka can give you.

Medellia, those Charles Dickens jokes are great!

Aug 19, 2009, 11:57am Top

Oooh, gotcha. I guess I should have actually read the comic instead of dashing to the translation.

Aug 20, 2009, 5:32pm Top

William Shakespeare walks into a pub and the barman says, "Oi, get out of here, you're Bard!"

Edited: Aug 24, 2009, 5:44pm Top

Today: Dinosaur Comics. (Let me know, folks, if these images are too big and scroll-bar-inducing.)

Aug 24, 2009, 5:46pm Top

Aug 24, 2009, 6:09pm Top


I don't mind scrolling.

Aug 24, 2009, 7:53pm Top

From The Onion:

Film Adaptation Of The Brothers Karamazov Ends Where Most People Stop Reading Book

Executives at Paramount Pictures announced Monday that production had finally wrapped on The Brothers Karamazov, a new film adaptation that concludes at the precise moment most readers give up on the classic Russian novel.

The 83-minute film, which is based on the first 142 or so pages of Fyodor Dostoevsky's acclaimed work, has already garnered attention for its stunning climax, in which the end credits suddenly appear midway through Katerina's tearful speech about an unpaid debt.

"We are very excited to be able to bring several chapters of this timeless masterpiece to the big screen," Paramount CEO Brad Grey said of the movie, which was shot, on and off, for two years. "Anyone who's ever tried to sit down and trudge through this incredible book is going to be absolutely blown away by the faithfulness of our film."

"It's all here," Grey added. "The opening scene, that part a little bit later on where some big commotion is taking place but you're not quite sure what it is, that monastery thing they all go to—everything, just as you half-remember it."

According to director D.J. Caruso, great care was taken to painstakingly recreate the experience of slowly inching one's way through the dense work of literature. Starring Viggo Mortensen as both Alyosha and Aleksey, depending on the scene, and Laura Linney as someone's mother or aunt, the film opens with a three-minute-long summary taken directly from the novel's back cover.....

Read the rest here:

Aug 30, 2009, 1:45pm Top

Technically, I realize this is not a literary joke per se, so apologies in advance, Medellia, for perhaps misusing your cool thread. But!...since Ulysses is so near and dear to so many of our hearts here, I felt this joke was perfectly appropriate for this thread regardless...

The Penis Study

The American Government funded a study to see why the head of a man's penis was larger than the
shaft. After 1 year and $180,000, they concluded that the reason that the head was larger than the shaft was to give the man more pleasure during sex.

After the US published the study, the French decided to do their own study. After $250,000 and 3 years of
research, they concluded that the reason the head was larger than the shaft was to give the woman more pleasure during sex.

The Irish, unsatisfied with these findings, conducted their own study.
After 2 weeks and a cost of around $75.46, and 2 barrels of beer, they
concluded that it was to keep a man's hand from flying off and hitting himself in the forehead.

Aug 31, 2009, 9:00am Top


you humans are crazy.....

Edited: Aug 31, 2009, 9:07am Top


from The Onion:

New Terminator Movie Brings J.D. Salinger Out Of Hiding

CORNISH, NH—Famed literary giant and notorious recluse J.D. Salinger, who has not published any new work since 1965, came out of hiding Monday to gush about the new film Terminator Salvation, offering the world its first glimpse into his private life since his last interview nearly 30 years ago.

"I believe that a writer's privacy is among his most precious possessions, in that personal information about him distracts readers from what is most important: the work itself," the author of The Catcher In The Rye told reporters outside the Claremont Cinema 6 theater, moments after seeing the film for the third time. "But on the other hand, the new revival of the Terminator franchise is just way too awesome for me to remain quiet any longer. Hello? Time-travel paradoxes? Freaking amazing!"

"How sweet was it when that giant robot hand reached in through the roof and grabbed that old lady?" Salinger added. "Or when those motorcycle terminators detached from its legs and started speeding toward the escaping resistance fighters? Holy crap, was that fucking cool or what?"

Salinger, 90, explained that he first became a fan of the Terminator franchise in 1991, when he saw Terminator 2: Judgment Day and found the character of the young John Connor to be "a striking figure of teenage alienation and disillusionment." His interest in the series continued with his rental of the first Terminator film, which he described as "almost as awesome as the second one," and his Amazon purchase of Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines on Blu-ray.

A scene from the latest Terminator film, described by the Catcher In The Rye author as "a badass thrill ride."

Salinger, whose fictional works featuring the Glass family are considered some of the most influential contributions to 20th-century American literature, stated that he "liked Terminator 3 okay," but that it was, in his opinion, "nowhere near as cool as the new film." In fact, the latest installment has so far exceeded his expectations that he has reversed nearly half a century of shunning the media.

In an interview granted to The Paris Review, The New York Review Of Books, Time, Newsweek, and Us Weekly, Salinger called Christian Bale "the most badass version of John Connor yet" and described the film's postapocalyptic war with the machines setting as "totally mind-blowing."

"I admit I was worried about it as first," Salinger explained to enthralled reporters. "The decision to go with McG as the new director seemed like a bad mistake—I mean, he made the Charlie's Angels movies for chrissakes—but boy oh boy was I worried for nothing. T4 may well be more awesome than the first three goddamn films combined, if you can believe that."

Added Salinger, "Those hydrobots are scary as shit."

He then invited reporters into his remote New Hampshire compound to discuss the movie in more detail.

"Come in, come in, sit down, there's plenty of space," an exuberant Salinger told reporters, gesturing around his sitting room, which was filled with movie posters, comic books, and other Terminator collectibles, including a life-sized statue of the T-800 Model terminator as portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger. "What a frigging inspired choice to cast Bryce Dallas Howard. She made so much more sense in that part than Claire Danes."

Although the sole film made from Salinger's work, My Foolish Heart, based on his short story "Uncle Wiggily In Connecticut," was considered by Salinger to be such a bastardization of his prose that he never agreed to another adaptation, he now states that "if McG wants to do any of my stuff—'A Perfect Day For Bananafish'; Raise High The Roof Beam, Carpenters; hell, all of Nine Stories—he has my complete permission. Anything. Anything he wants."

When asked what he thought of today's novelists, and whether he had plans to publish any new work, Salinger replied that he loved it when the helicopter crashes and John Connor gets grabbed by that terminator that's only half a torso, and then he blows it away with the mounted machine gun.

"But by far the best part is when they reveal the T-800 for the first time and it looks just like a young Schwarzenegger," said Salinger, his voice reaching a fever pitch. "I was like, 'Holy shit.' I guess they must've used CGI or something to get that face just right. But what a moment! I practically lost it, if you want to know the truth."

Besides setting the literary community abuzz, Salinger's decision to come out of seclusion has allowed scholars access to his massive archive of unpublished work for the first time. So far, critics have examined three never-before-seen novels, eight novellas, and more than two dozen short stories—all of which appear to be Terminator fan fiction.

"But make no mistake," said Salinger expert Professor Duane Hartworth of nearby Dartmouth College, "this is without a doubt the most personal and affecting body of Terminator fan fiction ever discovered."

Salinger had only one negative comment for interviewers: He condemned the TV spin-off series The Sarah Connor Chronicles, saying that people who like that show are "a bunch of goddamn phonies."

Aug 31, 2009, 9:10am Top

Aug 31, 2009, 9:10am Top

Edited: Oct 4, 2009, 10:02pm Top

Almost a joke, a meta-joke if you will. Can you identify these quotes?

It was growing ever darker. The storm cloud had already poured across half the sky, aiming towards [redacted], boiling white clouds raced ahead of the storm cloud suffused with black moisture and fire.

It was a dark, stormy night; the stars were hidden by big clouds racing across the sky, and the moon would not rise till midnight. From time to time a flash of lightning on the horizon revealed the white, deserted road, then everything was plunged back into darkness.

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents -- except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in [redacted] that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

Oct 5, 2009, 12:40am Top

Well, the first one is from M&M: the last one is Bulwer Lytton's (in)famous opening to Paul Clifford, but the middle one mmm you got me there.....

Oct 5, 2009, 1:44am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Oct 5, 2009, 10:51am Top

The second quote is from the episode in The Three Musketeers where they are en route to the cottage where milady is being held prior to her trial and execution. Reading it just now as part of M&M background got me wondering why B-L's opening line is held up to such ridicule, a viral meme, when other instances are not.

Oct 5, 2009, 11:10am Top

I don't know that it is the opening line, per se, but the copycats (see above, for just a couple) have rendered it trite through overuse. Looking for the origin of such an overused statement leads one to B-W. I don't know, just my 2 cents. But then that line, in light of today's understated prose, does seem a tad overblown.

Oct 5, 2009, 12:57pm Top

28 I am amazed that you remember that kind of sentence in the multitude of books you read.

Edited: Oct 5, 2009, 1:58pm Top

I didn't remember it, Mac, but re-read it while searching for the knight of the woeful countenance. Barratt mentions that another critic has made the connection between Koroviev and The Three Musketeers, but the source is in Russian, so no hope for me there.

The Three Musketeers is centered on the siege of La Rochelle, not the one with Henry IV and Queen Margot, but later, when La Rochelle is taken.

ETA BTW, you might want to check this out as a writing tool.

Oct 5, 2009, 2:57pm Top

Thanks Wilf, looks good

Oct 19, 2009, 1:11pm Top

I was reminded last night of a joke which I read many years ago--maybe in a Reader's Digest or something? Googling didn't turn up anything. But it went something like this:

"I get no peace at home. It's not enough for my family that I'm one of the most celebrated novelists of all time! Noooo, every time someone needs some bread or cheese, it's always Victor, you go!"

Bonus, also from my scattered memory:

A man saw an advertisement in his local paper for a pun-writing contest. He was very excited--he wanted that twenty dollar prize! So he sat and mused and finally put together a list of ten of the best puns he could think up.

He sent it in and confidently waited to hear back from the contest panel. The bad news came in a few weeks later. He had been so sure that he would win, but sadly, no pun in ten did.

Oct 19, 2009, 2:02pm Top


Oct 19, 2009, 4:39pm Top

Ah, I found a source for the Hugo joke! There's a 1995 article from the NY Times about an annual "bad writing" contest sponsored by San Jose State University in California--it was one of the submissions.

The original text:
"Mon Dieu! It should be enough that I have written 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame,' 'Les Miserables,' and all my other great works, but nooo - whenever my family needs a quart of milk or a loaf of French bread from the corner store, it's always 'Victor, you go.' "

Oct 19, 2009, 4:41pm Top

Oh dear. No pun in ten did did me in!

Edited: Aug 29, 2012, 11:21pm Top

Not a joke, but an anecdote:
He isnʻt exactly a household word in literary circles, but Spanish scholar-writer Antonio Regalado Sr. said that when he asked For "Pall Mall" (cigarettes) at his local pharmacy in Cambridge MA, he was "always"* presented with a "bottle of milk".

This was back, a half century or more ago.The most interesting thing in this anecdote may be the changes it shows in an everyday retailing incident. Cigarettes, of course, could be requested unabashedly and smoked just about anywhere. A pharmacyʻs ( a drug storeʻs, as we were calling it) soda fountain, today, if any still exist, would hardly think that anyone had ordered a (quart) bottle of milk, but in those days they often did stock quarts of milk -- bottles , not cartons -- for retail.

* always, here, may = 2 or 3 times.

Oct 19, 2009, 5:19pm Top

Crazy milk stalkers! I'm glad those days have passed...

Oct 19, 2009, 5:32pm Top

Hi aethercowboy:

On #37
Thought it was an accent/dialect mixup,
not a case of stalking!

A similar case ws perpetrated by me a few years earlier when I was a store clerk: I gave Pall Malls in response to a request for
"Bromo-" (Seltzer).

Edited: Oct 19, 2009, 8:01pm Top

Speaking of dinner when the German naturalist Alex. von Humbolt told a friend, a Parisian docktor, that he wanted to meet a certifiable lunatic, he was invited to the docktor's home for supper. A few days later, Humbolt found himself placed at the dinner table between two men. One was polite, somewhat reserved, and didn't go in for small talk. The other, dressed in ill-matched clothes, chattered away on every subject under the sun, gesticulating wildly, while making horrible faces. When the meal was over, Humbolt turned to his host. "I like your lunatic," he whispered, indicating the talkative man. The host frowned. "But it's the other one who's the lunatic. The man you are pointing to is Monsieur Honore de Balzac.

from last page of NY Times book review. 27 Sept. 2009

Oct 19, 2009, 7:57pm Top

I'll take mine Grande.

Oct 19, 2009, 8:17pm Top

>39 rolandperkins:.

The correct spelling is "stocking." I used to be in charge of stock at a tea store, and they called me "the stocker," which got a few raised eyebrows.

Oct 19, 2009, 9:32pm Top

To aethercowboy:

I get the point of #38 now. I did mean "stock", not "stalk".

Oct 20, 2009, 2:22pm Top

a propos of nothing, Russians (or Ukrainians at least), pronounce the "L" in stalker, as in The Stalker.

Edited: Feb 20, 2010, 12:20am Top

Feb 20, 2010, 12:12am Top

Nice revival of the joke thread!

Have you seen the Onion article "Girlfriend Stops Reading David Foster Wallace Breakup Letter At Page 20," 'Rique?


Feb 20, 2010, 12:16am Top

I have, but that's a classic worth reading over and over - never gets old!

Feb 20, 2010, 5:10am Top

I laughed out loud.

Har har. I can't *stand* when people call DFW pretentioius, though. Read an interview, for chrissake. The guy was about the least pretentious writer who's ever written in English.

...all that was addressed at the absent author of that comic, not you, incidentally.

Feb 20, 2010, 11:22am Top


Thanks for sharing agi'n, EF. That strip encouraged me to order a copy of Infinite Jest today!

Mar 6, 2010, 11:35pm Top

Which reminds me...

Mar 6, 2010, 11:51pm Top

LOL. Classic!

Edited: Mar 25, 2010, 4:08pm Top

Mar 25, 2010, 4:49pm Top

Link? I can't see the picture...

Jun 20, 2012, 1:02pm Top

Reviving this thread just to post this for all those alumni of the Master & Margarita read:


Jun 20, 2012, 2:59pm Top

brillant !!

what a funny thread this was !

Jun 20, 2012, 6:37pm Top

Yes, it needs more funny people to contribute.

Regarding 55: There was a follow up from the prefecture at Patriarch Ponds saying that the sign was not legal and they didn't put it up, but they were not going to take it down because "It does not hurt anybody, and it serves as a reminder of the immortal work of Mikhail Bulgakov."

Jun 20, 2012, 9:36pm Top

aw that was so great! Thanks for reviving the thread, Anna. I love that sign.

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