Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Scotch Tape

Most of what I know about the Scotch comes from: Greyfriars Bobby, Scrooge McDuck, that character in Mike Meyers’ film “So I Married An Ax Murderer” who makes fun of the size of his grandson’s skull, Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, and a few little jokes and quips on BBC 4’s “The News Quiz,” one of which goes like this:

After this government (Gordon Brown) and Northern Rock, you won’t find anyone saying Scots are tight with money.

But Louis Untermeyer, bless him, includes a passel of Scotch money-themed jokes in his Treasury of Laughter. Here’s a little sampling:

A Scotchman, an Irishman and a Jew had dinner together. When the waiter came in with the bill, the Scotchman promptly said he would take it. The next day the newspaper carried a headline: “Death of a Jewish Ventriloquist.”

Angus woke early and found that his wife had passed away during the night. “Maggie! Maggie!” he cried to the servant.

“Aye sir?” she called back.

“Maggie, ye need boil only one egg the morn!”

In Edinburgh they tell the story of the two burglars who smashed a jeweler’s window and were arrested when they came back for the brick.

But what’s interesting about the collection of jokes is that they remain the sole oral storytelling tradition we have, and I included stand-up comedians and such in the mix. This is an old storytelling method, of course, which used to be implemented much more often before the advent of inexpensive printing, whether it was done on paper pulp, papyrus, or stone. So these terrible japes have more common with Beowulf than a lot of the high fantasy we read these days. Interesting, interesting . . .

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