An Englishman, an Irishman and a Frenchman walked into a bar. The bartender looked up exasperation. "What is this?" he asked.Funny, huh? ...? No? Sorry, I must have botched the joke. Let's call in Kate Zernike, the Joke Doctor from the New York Times. Here's what she might say:
Mr Haslup's prepared joke on his blog, The Teleoscope, on November 2nd called for him to type "An Englishman, an Irishman and a Frenchman walked into a bar. The bartender looked up in exasperation. 'What is this?' he asked 'some kind of a joke?'" In his delivery, Mr Haslup dropped the word "in."
First, I would like to apologize to the bartenders of America if my botched joke is interpreted to mean that they don't know the meaning of the word "exasperation" and can't understand it even if they look it up. As someone who has personally provided a certain amount of exasperation to bartenders across the country I know their familiarity with it firsthand.
Second, I would like to point out to Ms. Zernike that, while it is true that I left out the word "in", I also left off the punchline of the joke and the second omission does more damage to the joke than does the first.
For those of you who have not a clue what point I am belaboring, I am talking about John Kerry's botched joke and Ms. Zernike's analysis in the New York times in which Kerry's joke is repeated in a heavily redacted form while giving the impression that in his telling it he omitted only a single word. Of Kerry's joke she said
Mr. Kerry’s prepared remarks to California students on Monday called for him to say, “Do you know where you end up if you don’t study, if you aren’t smart, if you’re intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush.” In his delivery, he dropped the word “us.”
This is true, as far as it goes. It is also a damnable lie. Assuming that Kerry's prepared remarks were prepared before he told the joke (and not as damage control after the fact) then he did omit the word "us." He also omitted the words "in a war" and "Just ask President Bush." You'd think that a joke doctor who did any fact checking at all would notice the omission of the punchline.
Poor Kerry. He has no sense of humor and it is painful to watch him try to tell a joke under the best circumstances. This time he bolluxed the joke and came out sounding like a pompous, haughty, elitist windbag making a snide and irritating joke about the troops in Iraq. I am prepared to give him credit for his claim that he misspoke. He intended to sound like a pompous, haughty, elitist windbag making a snide and irritating joke about the commander in chief of the troops in Iraq.
And as for the New York Times, there will be those who see this story as one more instance of the Times' pathetic eagerness to carry water for the Democrats but I am prepared to believe that it reflects a new policy. From now on all public figures will be allowed to change their quotes in the "newspaper of record" to show that they almost said what their handlers wish they had said. I guess it is too late to save Dan Quayle but this will be a big help for the president who occasionally fluffs a line or two.