// you’re reading...


George Mikes

Hungarian humor writer George Mikes said he was a simple practitioner of humour, but actually he studied humour in detail and it shows in his 1970 book Humour in Memoriam. He takes as his theme the death of humour, and it could have been written about today. He mentions a few jokes along the way, like this nonsense joke:

Two chaps meet. One says to the other: “Didn’t we meet in Newcastle years ago?” The other shakes his head: “Never been to Newcastle in my life.” “Neither have I,” says the first chap and then adds reflectively: “Must have been two other fellows.”

A joke about psychoanalysis: Green tells Brown things are terrible and he is desperate. He is wetting the bed. Brown tells him to see a psychoanalyst.

Six months later they meet again and a glance at Green is enough to show that now he is a happy man.

“So you went to the psychoanalyst?” says Brown.

“Yes, I did.”

“Did he help you?”

“Very much so.”

“You don’t wet the bed anymore, then?”

“Yes, I still do. But now I am proud of it.”

On infidelity: Cohen suspects that his wife is having an affair with Schwartz. Cohen asks his friend Green to keep his eyes open.

Later, Green said he had been near Cohen’s flat when he saw Schwartz pull up. Schwartz went up to the flat and after a few minutes Schwartz and Cohen’s wife came down and they drove away.

“Yes, yes?” said Cohen.

Green said he followed them to a small hotel where they booked a room.

Cohen presses Green to go on.

Green said that to be absolutely sure, he booked a room next to theirs and he looked through the keyhole.

“And then?” said Cohen.  

They were kissing on the bed.

“What then?” said Cohen.

Green said the lights went out and he couldn’t see.

Cohen sighs: “Good God! The uncertainty is killing me!”

Humour in Memoriam was published by Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1970.