ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Old Time American Humor

Updated on May 17, 2016

In the beginning God created human governments and we all know what happened after that. Old fashioned American humor. Perhaps that’s what sets us apart from other countries and cultures…having the ability to laugh at ourselves, our history and national leaders.

Although England and America speak basically the same language their ideas of what constitutes humor isn’t exactly the same. Americans are slightly straighter to the point.They openly applaud ambition and success and will say, “Have a nice day,” whether they mean it or not. Brits are famous for their dry wit. Times and places may change, but good, witty humor doesn’t. Someone once said words have great power, if you don’t tie too many together at the same time.

Mark Twain

The 1800s seemed to be the Heyday of American humor. It was an era of great writers and humorists such as Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain. Here are a few of his quotes:

  • “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”
  • “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”
  • “A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.”

Abraham Lincoln was also a well known humorist and story teller. When he was young he loved listening to his father and other men swap yarns. As he matured he became quite adept at retelling them.

When he became a lawyer, he used this skill to influence juries. On more than one occasion his opposing counsel would complain stating Lincoln’s stories were irrelevant and distracting to the jury. However, the complaints more often fell on deaf ears as judges usually found them highly entertaining as well.

He once told a story of a time he was splitting rails when a man with a rifle came up and demanded he look him directly in the eye. Lincoln stopped his work and did so for a few minutes. Finally the man broke his silence and told Lincoln he "…had promised himself years ago if he ever met a man uglier than himself, he would shoot him." Lincoln calmly answered “If I am uglier than you, go ahead, because I don’t want to live!"

Another example of Lincoln’s humor told of a preacher who was always going on about Jesus being the only perfect man mentioned in the Bible. During one sermon as the preacher was again harping on the subject Lincoln asked him why the Bible never mentioned a perfect woman. A woman in the rear of the congregation called out "I know a perfect woman." "Who was she?" asked the minister. "My husband’s first wife," she replied.

The 1920s and 1930s were years the mass media began. Politics, culture, and economics were popular targets for humor as women gained the vote and the stock market crashed. What did audiences of the 1920s and 1930s find funny? Charlie Chaplin played a misfit who craved affection. Harold Lloyd played a typical man trying to live up to ideals he couldn’t achieve.

However humor doesn’t always belong to the famous or those having a knack of putting it to use. Sometimes it occurs naturally by accident, or lack of knowledge as illustrated by the following student answers to a history exam:

  • Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. They killed him. Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock.
  • Christopher Columbus was a great navigator who discovered America while cursing about the Atlantic.
  • Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the Ten Commandments.
  • The Pyramids are a range of mountains between France and Spain.
  • Romans were called Romans because they never stayed in one place for very long.

Hopefully, we will never lose the ability to laugh at ourselves.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • JY3502 profile image
      Author

      John Young 5 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      JamaGenee , I'm well aware of Will Rogers, did a hub on him some time back. There are just too many greats to mention in an essay.

      mythbuster, glad to see you still read my stuff.

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 5 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Very Nice! These tidbits got me laughing, for sure! Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed the Lincoln material here.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      I had no idea Lincoln had a great sense of humor until it was mentioned the other day in an interview with a cast member of the new movie "Lincoln".

      Since the hub is about American humor, I wonder that you didn't mention Will Rogers. Pretty sure he was from the same era as Clemens/Twain, but perhaps you have to live in Oklahoma to be aware of him.

      That said, Brits are still THE absolute funniest bunch on the planet. Also, masters of economy when landing a zinger . ;D

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hey, JY, Awesome! This is so very interesting. Few know how Abe Lincoln was funny, most think of him as staunch and boring. Great stuff you got here, and I'm sharing it!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)