An ignorant Yorkshireman having occasion to go to France, was surprised on his arrival to hear the men speaking French, the women speaking French, and the children jabbering away in the same tongue. In the height of the perplexity which this occasioned, he retired to his hotel, and awakened in the morning by the cock crowing, whereupon he burst into a wild exclamation of astonishment and delight, crying, ‘Thank goodness! there’s English at last!’

Tit-Bits From All the Most Interesting Books, Periodicals and Newspapers in the World, Dec. 10, 1881

Free Enterprise

A man and a boy go into a barbershop.

After getting his haircut, the man says, “Now cut the boy’s hair too. I’ll be back soon.”

When he’s finished cutting the boy’s hair, the barber says, “When is your father coming back to pay?”

The boy says, “He’s not my father. He met me in the street and asked if I wanted a free haircut.”

(From Sion Rubi, Intelligent Jokes, 2004.)

Better Safe

One bright day in Hollywood, a friend discovered Robert Benchley sitting in his room under a sunlamp.

When the friend asked why he didn’t go outside to get his sun, Benchley said, “And get hit by a meteor?”

Higher Education

Proper technique for examining an undergraduate, from a letter from Lewis Carroll to Henrietta and Edwin Dodgson, Jan. 31, 1855:

It is the most important point, you know, that the tutor should be dignified and at a distance from the pupil, and that the pupil should be as much as possible degraded.

Otherwise, you know, they are not humble enough.

So I sit at the further end of the room; outside the door (which is shut) sits the scout; outside the outer door (also shut) sits the sub-scout: half-way downstairs sits the sub-sub-scout; and down in the yard sits the pupil.

The questions are shouted from one to the other, and the answers come back in the same way — it is rather confusing till you are well used to it. The lecture goes on something like this:–

Tutor. What is twice three?

Scout. What’s a rice tree?

Sub-Scout. When is ice free?

Sub-sub-Scout. What’s a nice fee?

Pupil (timidly). Half a guinea!

Sub-sub-Scout. Can’t forge any!

Sub-Scout. Ho for Jinny!

Scout. Don’t be a ninny!

Tutor (looks offended, but tries another question). Divide a hundred by twelve!

Scout. Provide wonderful bells!

Sub-Scout. Go ride under it yourself!

Sub-sub-Scout. Deride the dunder-headed elf!

Pupil (surprised). Who do you mean?

Sub-sub-Scout. Doings between!

Sub-Scout. Blue is the screen!

Scout. Soup-tureen!

“And so the lecture proceeds. Such is Life.”


A jester being on his death-bed, one of his companions begged when he got to the other world, he would put in a good word for him. ‘I may perhaps forget,’ said he; ‘tie a string about my finger.’

The Laughing Philosopher, 1825


L is for lovable Lena,
Who met a ferocious hyena;
Whatever occurred
I never have heard;
But anyhow, L is for Lena.

— Anonymous, from Carolyn Wells’ Book of American Limericks, 1925