More toasts, p.1
More Toasts, p.1
Jokes, Stories and Quotations
MARION DIX MOSHERLibrarian, Genesee Branch, Rochester (N.Y.) Public Library
New YorkThe H. W. Wilson CompanyLondon: Grafton & Co.
* * * * *
BOOKS OF JOKES, STORIESAND QUOTATIONS
TOASTER'S HANDBOOK. Peggy Edmond andHarold Workman Williams. 501p. $1.80
MORE TOASTS. Marion D. Mosher. 552p. $1.80
* * * * *
INTRODUCTION The Divine Gift of Humor The Function of Humor Importance of Humor
The success of the Toaster's Handbook has encouraged its publishers tocompile another that will supplement it and bring it up-to-date. Newsubjects keep coming to the front, and the up-to-date toaster needsup-to-date stories to fit the up-to-date subjects. No public occasionof today is complete without its joke on the nineteenth amendment, theallied debts, the income tax, etc.
In offering the toasts, jokes, quotations and stories in thissecond volume, the editor has endeavored to bring further aid to thedistracted toastmaster, to the professional after-dinner speaker whomust change his stories often, and to individuals inexperienced inpublic speaking and so unfortunate as to have public addresses forcedupon them. He views the product with much the same feeling as didAlexander Pope, who said, "O'er his books his eyes began to roll, inpleasing memory of all he stole."
Paolo Bellezze expressed the same feelings in the introduction to hiswork "Humor" when he said "Of this work of mine, I must confess it isa great lot of stuff gathered from everywhere except from my brain....It is a necklace of pearls strung upon a slender cord; that, I haveput there; the pearls have been furnished me by the most famousjewelers, native and foreign. This said, I can--without being accusedof pride--recommend it to my respectable customers as an article ofgreat value and of absolute novelty."
In making this collection, files of such magazines as Life, Judge,Puck and Punch were drawn on extensively; also magazines havinghumorous pages or columns, such as the Literary Digest, Ladies' HomeJournal, Everybody's, Harper's; also Bindery Talk and various otherhouse organs. According to Samuel Johnson "A man will turn over halfa library to make one book," and the compiler of this one makes humbleacknowledgment to a whole library of books and periodicals where mostof these jokes have already appeared. It has been impossible to givecredit unless the place of first publication was definitely known.
The compiling of "More Toasts" was in large measure cooperative. Thetest of the humor of a story or joke is in its efficacy when appliedto normal people under ordinary circumstances. With this philosophy inmind the editor made it a rule to include nothing until it had firstbeen "tried on the dog." The original material was first graded intothree classes and, before being accepted, each joke had to stand thetest of appealing to the sense of humor of several persons. The resultis a collection of very carefully selected jokes and stories, onlyabout fifty per cent of the material originally chosen being used.If any over-critical reader fails to find them humorous, may not thefault possibly be due to his own imperfect sense of humor?
There is also much truth in the statement that the point of a jestlies in the telling of it and often much of the subtle humor is lostin the reading. The personality of the speaker is a necessary factorand is frequently more important in the effect produced by the storythan the story itself. Elbert Hubbard once said "Next in importance tothe man who first voices a great thought is the man who quotes it."
The clever compiler, like a good chef, must not only know what toselect but in what order to present it. Knowledge consists in beingable to find a thing when you want it and accordingly an attempt hasbeen made to pigeonhole each joke where it would be most useful. Sucha classification is at best a difficult and debatable question, andnumerous cross references have been placed wherever it was thoughtthey might direct the reader to the subject wanted.
With these few explanatory words, the editor presents this littlevolume, sincerely hoping that it may prove a friend in need to all whoseek the relaxation of humor, and a lifesaver to that legion ofhumble men whose knees tremble when the chairman speaks those fatefulwords--"The next speaker of the evening...."
What can be more fitting than that a compiled book should have acompiled introduction? Why should one with great pains and poorprospects of success attempt to do what has already been well done?Knowing that all readers of this book have a sense of humor and thatthey will approve our decision we begin with a quotation from anarticle by Mr. E. Lyttelton.
[Footnote 1: The Nineteenth Century. July, 1922.]
The Divine Gift of Humor
The subject of humor has an attraction peculiarly its own, because it deals with a mystery which yet is pleasantly interwoven with the daily life of each one of us. We often say of one of our neighbors that he has no sense of humour. But he often laughs; he never spends a day without at least trying to laugh, tho it remains but an attempt, an effort, an aspiration after something which he seems to have lost but wishes to recover. Either, that is, he remains grave when others laugh, or he laughs, as Horace says, "with alien jaws," by constraint rather than because he cannot help it. He has a confused idea that it is expected of him. Such laughter is apparently the outcome of an uneasy sense of duty, a dismal travesty of the real thing....
Certainly humour is a singularly elusive thing, and I doubt if anyone alive can explain it; but its elusiveness gives it something of its charm; and, moreover, the illustrations which are necessary to an inquiry into its nature, its scope and meaning, are apt to be amusing without being irrelevant.
Humour has often been roughly described as a sense of the incongruous. More satisfying, however, is the following, which has been ascribed to Dean Inge: It is a sense of incongruous emotions. As soon as we think of the emotions being stirred we see that the strange difference between humourous and unhumourous people is not an intellectual matter, but follows the general law of emotional susceptibility, viz., that it is independent of the reason and varies within wide limits with each individual, and obviously with each nationality. Moreover, it appears that, as it is compounded of two emotions, one man may feel one of the emotions but be dull to the other, according to his temperament. It is a matter of sensitiveness, and in sensitiveness no two of us are alike.
Crudely judged, then, humour may be described as a blessing of nature bestowed on all, but in widely varying measure, so that in the case of some of our acquaintance we deplore its non-existence, but never in ourselves. Nobody really believes that he is wholly without it, partly because, in proportion as the sense is really defective, the defect must be in its own nature unperceived, but also because the gift is so precious, so winsome, that no one could bear to believe that it has been denied him. By a merciful law of nature, the delusion is unsuspected, for assuredly, if any wholly unhumorous person once realised the full extent of his privation, nothing could save him from "wretchlessness" and despair.
I prefer to believe that, like the sense of beauty, the love of music, the thrill of admiration for uncalculating heroism, we have here a wondrous aid to us in our life's pilgrimage, but that if we trace it to a sense of our self-interest, we not only vulgarize it, but we turn it into a caricature. For there is in humour this singular property; its aroma is so subtle, delicate and undefinable that the effort to buttress it upon coarse, common utility is doomed to fail, and in the mere attempt humour vanishes. There is something deliciously contagious about laughter that is quite sincere and unthinking; whereas the only people who contrive to be always absurd, but never amusing, are those who laugh from a sense of duty.
Humour, then, in the young is restricted in scope, their experience of life being small; in women it is quicker than in men, but shallower; in the Scotch it is reticent, in the Irish voluble and refined, but cold. But wherever it is found free from counterfeit, wholesome and contagious, it is the offspring of man's heaven-bestowed power of seeing in the meannesses of earth the true presence of the Divine.
Darwin says the causes of humor are legion and exceedingly complex andvarious disquisitions upon humor and laughter would seem to supporthim. Its social nature is emphasized by Edwin Paxton Hood:
The sources of all laughter and merriment are in the cordial sympathies of our nature. Laughter is very nearly related to the highest and most instinctive wisdom; it stands at no distant remove from Judgment on the one hand, and Imagination on the other; and it is a proof of a healthy nature, for both thinking and acting.
C.S. Evans in his article "On Humor in Literature" gives a hint of theevolutionary process of its mechanism and its higher refinement:
On the lower plane of humor you get a laugh by the most unimaginative means--merely conceive a recognized humorous situation, or bring several things together according to a recipe, and the thing is done. Every practised comedian, in literature or on the stage, is an adept at it. But the creation of character, the expression--in terms of the words and actions of men and women--of that "social gesture" which is laughter's source, is a much greater thing, for there we touch the symbolism which is the soul of art.
The Function of Humor
In an article entitled "Why Do We Laugh?" William McDougall discussesscientifically the value of laughter:
Laughter of man presents a problem with which philosophers have wrestled in all ages with little success. Man is the only animal that laughs. And, if laughter may properly be called an instinctive reaction, the instinct of laughter is the only one peculiar to the human species....
We are saved from this multitude of small sympathetic pains and depressions by laughter, which, as we have seen, breaks up our train of mental activity and prevents our dwelling upon the distressing situation, and which also provides an antidote to the depressing influence in the form of physiological stimulation that raises the blood-pressure and promotes the circulation of the blood. This, then, is the biological function of laughter, one of the most delicate and beautiful of all nature's adjustments. In order that man should reap the full benefits of life in the social group, it was necessary that his primitive sympathetic tendencies should be strong and delicately adjusted. For without this, there could be little mutual understanding, and only imperfect cooperation and mutual aid in the more serious difficulties and embarrassments of life. But, in endowing man with delicately responsive sympathetic tendencies, nature rendered him liable to suffer a thousand pains and depressions upon a thousand occasions of mishap to his fellows, occasions so trivial as to call for no effort of support or assistance. Here was a dilemma--whether to leave man so little sympathetic that he would be incapable of effective social life; or to render him effectively sympathetic and leave him subject to the perpetually renewed pains of sympathy, which, if not counteracted, would seriously depress his vitality and perhaps destroy the species. Nature, confronted with this problem, solved it by the invention of laughter. She endowed man with the instinct to laugh on contemplation of these minor mishaps of his fellow men; and so made them occasions of actual benefit to the beholder; all those things which, apart from laughter, would have been mildly displeasing and depressing, became objects and occasions of stimulating beneficial laughter....
For laughter is no exception to the law of primitive sympathy; but rather illustrates it most clearly and familiarly; the infectiousness of laughter is notorious and as irresistible as the infection of fear itself.... The great laugher is the person of delicately responsive sympathetic reactions; and his laughter quickly gives place to pity and comforting support, if our misfortune waxes more severe. Such persons are in little danger of giving offense by their laughter; for we detect their ready sympathy and easily laugh with them; they teach us to be humorous.
H. Merian Allen in his essay "Little Laughs in History" says "Therelaxation of a full laugh clears the brain, restores fit contactwith one's fellows, and so smoothes the way for the solving of knottyproblems."
Linus W. Kline, Ph.D., further elucidates the psychical office ofhumor as follows:
The psychical function of humor is to delicately cut the surface tension of consciousness and disarrange its structure that it may begin again from a new and strengthened base. It permits our mental forces to reform under cover, as it were, while the battle is still on. Then, too, it clarifies the field and reveals the strategetic points, or, to change the figure, it pulls off the mask and exposes the real man. No stimulus, perhaps more mercifully and effectually breaks the surface tension of consciousness, thereby conditioning the mind for a stronger forward movement, than that of humor. It is the one universal dispensary for human kind: a medicine for the poor, a tonic for the rich, a recreation for the fatigued and a beneficient check to the strenuous. It acts as a shield to the reformer, as an entering wedge to the recluse and as a decoy for barter and trade.
Humor is as necessary to our mental and spiritual life as are vitaminsto our physical well-being. Ruskin has called our attention to thetendency of rivers to lean a little to one side, to have "One shinglyshore upon which they can be shallow and foolish and childlike, andanother steep shore under which they can pause and purify themselvesand get their strength of waves fully together for due occasions," andhas likened them to great men who must have one side of their lifefor work and another for play. Action and reaction must be balanced:seriousness and lightness. "Men who work prodigously must play withequal energy," says one commentator. "Humor is the gift of the deeplyserious man," remarks another. "There have been very few solemn men,but their solemnity was evidence, not of their gifts, but of theirdefects; as a rule greatness is accompanied by the overflow of thefountain of life in play." "The richly furnished mind overflowswith vitality and deals with ideas and life freely, daringly, oftenaudaciously."
The function of the catalyst in chemical reactions is to help otherbodies to get on together, but in doing this it only lends itspresence.
CATALYST. A chemical body which by its presence, is capable of inducing chemical changes in other bodies while itself remaining unchanged.
In quite the same way humor, by its mere presence, serves to smooththe way in all human relations. It contributes a socializing touch."Humor makes the whole world akin."
Importance of Humor
Not only the toastmaster needs to have a sense of humor and acollection of funny stories, and not only the preacher, the publicspeaker and entertainer, but everyone, as well, who must influenceothers. The "voice with a smile" wins because behind the voice is asense of humor. We have more confidence in those who have a senseof humor. The following is quoted from a persuasive advertisemententitled "The Gentle Art of Telling a Humorous Story Well":
The most successful men and women are those who know how to get along with their fellow-beings, who know how to win and hold good will. In fact, the biggest problem in business and society today is the human problem, the problem of making people like you and making people feel kindly towards each other.
And nothing oils the wheels of human relationship so nicely as humor. Abraham Lincoln understood this when he saved many a critical situation by the introduction of one of his famous anecdotes. Humor has its place in serious business life, and in social life it is the universal passport to popularity.
The importance of humor in our daily life, often emphasized byscientists and philosophers, has been well summarized by JustinMcCarthy in an article "Humor as an Element of Success":
I am strongly of the opinion that the quick and abiding sense of humour is a great element of success in every department of life. I do not speak merely of success in the more strictly artistic fields of human work, but am willing to maintain that even in the prosaic and practical concerns of human existence, the sense of humour is an exciting and sustaining influence to carry a man successfully thru to the full development of his capacity and the attainment of his purpose....
In the stories of great events and great enterprises we are constantly told of some heaven-born leader who kept alive, thru the most trying hours of what otherwise might have been utter and enfeebling depression, the energies, the courage and the hope of his comrades and his followers.
During thousands of years nature has developed in the human body many"safety first" signal systems. For example, when the body becomeschilled this signal system causes us to shiver and tickles the throatmaking us cough and in this way thru exercise stimulates the bloodcirculation.
Perhaps in ages to come nature will find a way to tickle our senseof humor when we are angry, discouraged, or otherwise mentallydiscomfitted and will thus help us thru laughter to throw off the soulchill and to regain spiritual poise.
More Toasts by Ernest Bramah / Humor have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on20 votes