Tag Archives: humor

God knows you should pray!

July 6, 2011

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How Dion — yeah, THAT Dion — “Runaround Sue,” “The Wanderer,” “Abraham, Martin & John,” “A Teenager in Love” —  confesses that although he was baptized Catholic, he wasn’t a church-goer and he only came back to the faith after witnessing the happiness he saw in his father-in-law, who he spied on his knees in prayer.

In a new book (Servant Books) –” Dion: The Wanderer Talks Truth: (Stories, Humor & Music)” — the prolific singer/songwriter quotes a great line from his father-in-law. When Dion asked him about prayer, his father-in-law suggested he try it himself, adding, “God loves to hear from strangers!”

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Catholics ought to be up in arms about anti-Catholic ‘humor’ on National Public Radio

December 19, 2010

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“This American Life” is one of the very best radio programs in the country, but the past week the producers of the show from Chicago’s public radio outlet let down a good portion of their audience by allowing a “comedian” to make fun of Catholics and the practice of their faith.

I frankly couldn’t believe what was coming out of my car radio as I drove from store to store doing Christmas shopping. I’m posting the link here because I think others need to know what this is all about:  http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/422/comedians-of-christmas-comedy-special. It’s Act Three: The Little Altar Boy” by Mike Birbiglia that triggered my calling Minnesota Public Radio to express my indignation that it would allow such bias on its station.

I kept asking myself, doesn’t anyone at “This American Life” have the brains — or the sensitivity — to know how offensive Birbiglia’s piece was to Catholics? 

I expect so much better from public radio. I expect public radio will be the standardbearer against prejudice of all kinds. And then it allowed someone to use its very valuable, “public” air time to make fun of the faith and the religious practices of millions? Intellectually, how does that make sense? I wondered, was the crew laughing along with Mr. Birbiglia, or did anyone in authority anywhere along the way ask themselves, “Are Catholics going to find this not only distasteful but an attack on their beliefs?” They should have.

 As soon as Birbiglia uttered the words, “Christ has lied …,” the little bell should have gone off in the heads of someone, if not at “This American Life,” if not at WBEZ, then certainly at MPR. If someone in any of those public radio offices had the ethics that I equate with public radio they would have pulled the plug on Birbiglia’s mic or on the syndicated feed and apologized to the 70 million Catholics in this country.

 Frankly, Birbiglia’s stuff wasn’t even funny. The jokes by the third graders that were aired early in that show were better than the childish garbage Mr. Birbiglia presented as humor. It’s really too bad he didn’t have the creativity of the third graders.

 Here’s to hoping everyone at public radio rises above the anti-religion, anti-Catholic gutter in the future. If you agree, why not let them know. — Bob Zyskowski

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Keillor brings Lake Wobegon’s Fourth of July to hilarious life

March 20, 2009

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“Liberty,”

by Garrison Keillor

Before another Fourth of July comes around, give Garrison Keillor permission to tickle your funny bone.

“Liberty” will test your housemates’ willingness to allow you to laugh aloud for extended periods without calling for the men in the white jackets.

It’s the story of an Independence Day celebration — and the preparation for the big event — in Lake Wobegon, the fictional Minnesota hamlet Keillor has made famous on public radio’s “A Prairie Home Companion” show.

Those familiar with Keillor’s weekly monologue will recognize many of the characters.

The hero of this fun read is mechanic Clint Bunsen. He’s the architect of one of the most successful Fourth of July parades in the nation, but he’s bruised a few egos along the way, and some of the townsfolk are out to depose him.

Some don’t like, for example, that he’s thrown out the cavalcade of farmers driving their John Deeres down Main Street and replaced them with more exciting acts — the St. Cloud Shriners Precision Rider Mower Unit, for example — and they are out to get Clint even though he’s made Lake Wobegon’s Fourth so spectacular that CNN is sending a crew to cover it for the second straight year.

No good deed goes unpunished

In typical Lake Wobegon fashion the culture of the town won’t allow room for an individual to enjoy too much success, and no idea is ever allowed to be presented without its downside casting a dark shadow over any potential good outcome.

Keillor has the naysayers down pat.

In a lovely passage that describes those who accuse Bunsen of being a tyrant as he chairs the parade committee, Keillor’s familiarity with Scripture and his insight into human frailty burst off the page:

“If they had been at the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus brought forth the miracle of the loaves and fishes, they would’ve thought, ‘Did he wash his hands. Where are the napkins? How long was that fish cooked?'”

Sound familiar?

Fair warning: Keillor’s imaginative libido has his hero stumbling off the marital-fidelity track, and some readers may be offended by some of the frank and explicit language in this Viking book.

On the whole, though, “Liberty” offers a commentary on humanity that points society in the right direction by shining a spotlight on those times when we and our neighbors fail to be all that the creator gave us the potential to be.

And it’s hilarious. — bz

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It’s okay, Catholics, we can laugh

September 30, 2008

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“The Book of Catholic Jokes,”

by Deacon Tom Sheridan

Did you know that they had automobiles in Jesus’ time?

Yes, the Bible says that the disciples were all of one Accord.

Yeah, you may have heard some of them before.

And yes, Tom Sheridan admits that some of these may have been jokes to which a Catholic angle has been added to make them churchy.

But Sheridan, who was a writer and editor for the Chicago Sun-Times before he was a deacon, has nicely selected jokes that folks with decent moral standards can tell in polite company, and Acta Publications has packaged them well as a handy little and inexpensive paperback.

Did you hear the one about the man who opened a dry-cleaning business next door to the convent? He knocked on the door and asked the Mother Superior if she had any dirty habits.

To be sure there are some clinkers in the bunch, and some moldy oldies. And I don’t know why every priest in a joke has to have an Irish surname; hell0 — you don’t have to be Irish to be a priest, or to be funny.

With most of the quips you don’t have to be an “insider,” so to speak, although I’m not sure the jokes that take off on the differences between, say, the Franciscans and the Jesuits, aren’t going to have some Catholics scratching their heads. But maybe not.

For the most part the collection is good stuff — good enough to make you crack a smile even though you may have heard them before.

There’s at least one great priest golf joke, a cute one about a rabbi and a priest, a funny Pope Benedict XVI joke and a clever atheist joke. And as someone who can rarely remember a joke, what a good resource; I’m sure “The Book of Catholic Jokes” will end up on a number of reference shelves in rectories. — bz

One Sunday morning a priest saw a little boy staring intently at the large plaque on the church wall. The plaque was covered with names, and flags hung on either side of it.

“Father,” asked the boy, “what’s this?”

He replied, “It’s a memorial to all the men and women who died in the service.”

They stood together in silence for a moment. Finally, the boy asked with genuine concern: “Was it at the eight or the ten-thirty Mass?”

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The Don Rickles you never knew

February 17, 2008

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“Rickles’ Book,”
by Don Rickles with David Ritz

Okay, I admit it. I never respected Don Rickles or his brand of humor. Insulting people so that other people laugh at them seems a cheap way to make a living, so I put Don Rickles — the king of insults — a cut or more below comics I admired.

His memoir, however, sheds light on a different Don Rickles.

His struggle to survive as an entertainer, his willingness to accept any kind of work on stage and work long hours, his gratitude to the people who gave him opportunities, his humility, his faith life (as a Jew) and his faithfulness in marriage are all cause for admiration.

Don Rickles, who belittles celebrities and non-celebrities alike, turns out to be a loving son — one who adored his father and who lived with his widowed mother for many years; their family stories betray a mutual caring for one another, and the comedian shows a soft side in recalling how his mom stood behind him — and even gave his career a push.

Living in Miami at one point, Etta Rickles makes it her business to make friends with Dolly Sinatra, mother of you-know-who, who also happens to be in Miami. “It would be great if you could get Frank to go see Don,” Etta Rickles tells Dolly. Franks shows up where Don is performing, Don insults him, Frank loves it and the two become friends. Friendship with Frank Sinatra opens doors for Rickles.

Short chapters — Rickles’ many stops on the way up the ladder in the entertainment field and anecdotes about the stars whose lives touch his — make this an easy and interesting read.

Sprinkled throughout the book are examples of cutting remarks that are the lifeblood of Rickles’ routine. I still don’t appreciate the shots Rickles takes at overweight people in the crowd or people with odd clothing. But there a couple of good lines he gets off at the expense of some Hollywood stars. “You’d be great,” he tells Clint Eastwood, “if you’d ever learned to talk normal and stop whispering.”

And he zings Bob Hope and his USO Tours. At one of the Dean Martin Roasts, Hope walks in while Rickles is doing his routine. Thinking-on-his-feet, Rickles says, “Bob Hope is here. I guess the war is over.”

Rickles, who on stage seems to have no respect for anyone, shows an enormous respect for the talent of others in the entertainment field, and his ability to win their respect — people like Jackie Gleason, George Burns and closest friend Bob Newhart — is evidence that the Rickles in this book deserves respect himself. — bz

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