Laurie Taylor in New Humanist:
It was, in all respects, another typical Covid evening. We’d finished our regulation bottle of Chianti, yet again postponed our online Italian lesson, and decided that not one of the films on television merited a moment of our time. Three vacant hours lay between us and bedtime.
…And then, a few weeks ago, when we’d both decided that we’d lost the plot of Killing Eve, I came up with a casual suggestion. “What’s your favourite joke?” I asked her. At first she didn’t want to play. “Jokes are so terribly male, so horribly macho,” she protested. “Lots of hairy men standing around in a pub, downing pints and shrieking with laughter about cocks and tits.”
“Aren’t there any feminist jokes?” I wondered.
“Mmm. Well, there is the very special advice about how to get rid of the snails in your garden.”
“You just tell them that you love them madly and want to have their baby and you won’t see them for dust.”
“There’s the Dolly Parton one.”
“Somebody asked her how long it took to do her hair and she said, ‘I don’t know. I’m never there.’ Your turn.”
I settled back on the sofa. My turn. Good. I’ve been collecting jokes since I was seven years old. My battered diary from that period even lists some of my childhood favourites. “Which nation uses the most cold cream?” Answer: The Japanese (the chappy knees). “What is brown, hairy and wears sunglasses?” Answer: A coconut on holiday. Boom boom.
Something a little more mature was called for. A riddle. “What does a dyslexic, agnostic, insomniac do at night?”
“I give up.”
“He stays up wondering if there is a dog.”
“That’s a typical man joke. Very clever. Very ‘look at me’. Not as funny as the story about the vicar’s wife who gazes lovingly at a dress in a shop window. Guiltily she goes in and tries it on. It’s gorgeous. ‘Get thee behind me, Satan,’ she murmurs to herself. A second later she’s alarmed to hear a whispered reply. ‘It looks all right from here,’ says the hidden voice.”