17 April 2007
Jokes About Murder
It was on April 15 that John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln.
In recent decades, there has circulated various versions of a joke that has the punchline, "Other than that, Mrs Lincoln, how was your night at the theatre?"
But I've been told that its bad taste to tell the same joke, ending it with, "how was the open-air ride through Dallas?"
Is it just a matter of the passage of time? How does that work? In the 1960s, a broadcast network aired Hogan's Heroes, deriving humor from a Nazi prison camp. That would suggest a twenty year moratorium on jokes about such tragic circumstances, after which they become fair game.
But then, the "open air ride" joke should be unobjectionable.
Of course, Hogan's Heroes wasn't very funny. But I suspect that's just because it was written by network hacks. The Producers, in its various incarnations, was the creation of geniuses, and was very funny.
I'm just wondering, as always, whether there are some implicit rules I've never quite been clued in on....
Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.