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Dean and Me by Jerry Lewis and James Kaplan

- Abstract

An article in the New York Times last year posited that civilized people no longer tell jokes. Surely there is something to this. I personally have not heard a joke worth repeating in over a decade, and the last one I remember liking—

A Jew and a Scotsman are having dinner. The waiter brings the bill, and the Scotsman says, “Here, I’ll take that.” Headline in the next day’s paper: JEWISH VENTRILOQUIST FOUND MURDERED IN ALLEY.

—was being told by people who wanted to argue over whether or not it was anti-Semitic, as alleged in a complaint on the humor website of Stanford University, and if so, and maybe even if not, whether Stanford should close down the site. These days, if you Google “Jewish ventriloquist,” you will find that the joke is still famous not for being funny but for being off-limits in the taste department.

About the Author

Dan Seligman is a contributing editor of Forbes.