If you allow me, I would like to start today’s column with a question. What is the definition of a conceited idiot? Well, a conceited idiot is a man whose wife thinks he’s funny!
I would like to have one. Just kidding, Janis always laughs at my jokes, especially the good ones. Awhile ago we had a speaker come to our Lions Club who was really good, and he was funny. So much so that I had a special request from one of our members, Jerry Boyer, who asked me to do a column on laughter. He said, “people need to laugh,” and that’s true, and that’s scriptural too. It says in Proverbs 17:22, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” One thing is for sure, you can’t be mad at someone when you laugh.
In my youth, when I spoke three or four times a week, I used a good dose of humor in my speeches, mainly to relax the public and myself. For a joke to be really good, it must be used to make a point and not just to be heel-driven. In the 1970s, when I started my career, I was a member of the National Speaker Association, which allowed me to hear and know some of the best speakers in the country. One thing I noticed was that the humor speakers got paid more and were asked to come back more often.
Two of the best humor speakers at the time were Bob Murphy of Nacogdoches, Texas, and Jerry “Knock-him Out John” Clower of Route 4, Liberty, Mississippi. I never heard from Jerry Clower in person, although I drove out of town on Jerry Clower Boulevard when I spoke at the Chamber of Commerce banquet in Yazoo City, Mississippi, where Jerry got his start. . The late Bob Murphy became a good friend of mine, and I stole almost all of his jokes.
One year, Dr. Kellar Noggle, executive director of the Arkansas Association of School Administrators, asked me to hire Bob as a speaker for their annual meeting. Kellar also asked me to introduce him, which meant I would be seated at the head table. During Bob’s speech, I feverishly took notes. He looked at me and said, “Jim, am I going too fast for you?”
Before I finish, let me share with you one of Bob’s stories. I hope you will at least have a smile. “One day this old city boy came to visit his country parents, and as he was staying all night and the next day was Sunday, they took him to church. Soon they settled down and the service began. After about the first hour and a half of the sermon, this old city boy lost interest in what was going on and he began to fall asleep. Well, one of the “tapers” saw it and while he hated hitting a visitor, he also recognized his duty to the church, so he walked quietly down the aisle, picked up his long stick, reached out and patted this city boy on the head. When he did, that old boy sat down and said, ‘Sir, you better hit me again, I can still hear it.'”
Sad to say, I can relate to that. I’m happy to tell you that we have a fantastic preacher, and he only preaches about 20 minutes. I hope what I had to say today made you smile a little. It would be a better world if we all did it, often.