I have trouble remembering jokes. I’ll hear a joke and think, “I gotta remember to tell Elmer that next time I see him.”
I see Elmer. I open my mouth. The only words I remember are, “I gotta remember to tell Elmer that next time I see him.” I decided it would work better if I said to myself, “I gotta remember to tell Elmer (insert joke here) next time I see him.” Of course if it’s a long joke that can make a pretty hefty moment of reverie for me. I tend to stare off in space with my mouth open when I having a moment of silent reflection. Those few who know me are used to it.
“Look, Headley’s trying to remember your joke to steal it later.”
“He’ll never pay me for it.”
“That’s okay, nobody pays him either!” Derisive laughter follows.
The way I measure true friends are those who relish schadenfreude. If I’m going to live a miserable existence, I want people I like to get some joy of it.
There’s something about a talking bird though, that helps me remember a joke. Whenever my sister, Henrietta had a secret, she always attributed it to a little bird telling her. Henrietta didn’t laugh so much. Maybe her birds weren’t so funny. I thought these three were, so here are three talking bird jokes that I’ve stolen… just for you. (The just for you part makes it sound special, and maybe less morally and legally (?) wrong.)
Jesus is Watching
So Geraldo Rivera (there is no reason to make this about Geraldo Rivera – I just don’t like him,) having cased a house and determined that no one is home, goes in to commit grand larceny. Right away he sees he’s going to do better than he did with Al Capone’s crypt as there’s a high end stereo and autographed Beatle’s albums in the living room. As he’s walking out with a stack of 50-year-old LPs including Rubber Soul, he hears, “Jesus is watching you.” Geraldo spins around so fast he almost drops his revolver (the album, he’s not armed. Can you imagine Geraldo armed? He’s shoot his foot off.)
Geraldo sees no one, so he continues his felonious ways. He finds a signed, prototype George Forman grill in the kitchen, along with many other gadgets he’s seen plied on cooking segments but couldn’t use to save his life. As he gathers them all up, he hears, “Jesus is watching you.” Geraldo jumps so high that George Forman knocks him dizzy, but when he comes to, Geraldo doesn’t see anyone, so he goes back to creeping. (He’s good at creeping – ask any network he’s worked for. He’s a first class creep.)
Geraldo gets to the bedroom. There he finds a wide selection of top quality sex toys. Finally! something a dil.. like Geraldo can relate to! He’s gathering up the toys when he hears for a third time (says the joke teller unnecessarily as you all can count,) “Jesus is watching you.”
There in the bedroom is a parrot on a perch. (Which is a little unsettling considering all the sex toys in the room, but the joke is not related to that – or at least so the monsignor who related the joke to me reported when I asked.)
“Did you say that?” asks Geraldo Rivera.
“Yes,” says the parrot obligingly. “I’m Moses, the talking parrot.” (Yeah redundant – what are you gonna do?)
Geraldo laughs in that boisterous, condescending, disingenuous, and irritating way that has gotten him punched in the nose on a few glorious occasions.
“What kind of people name their parrot, Moses?!?”
The parrot motions over to the solitary exit from the bedroom, and says, “the same kind of people that name their Doberman, Jesus.”
Don’t like that one? Don’t worry, they get worse.
A Bird that Can Talk
A man walks into a pet store. (No, I have no idea why it has to be a man – presumably it wasn’t a panda, but it could easily have been a woman – but Bill Whitford, who told me this joke 37 years ago and is not returning my calls anymore, didn’t elaborate. Maybe he was frustrated by my overuse of parenthetical expressions. Hey! at least I don’t use hand quotes – those are really annoying.)
He says to the owner, “do you have a bird that can talk? I’ve always wanted a bird that can talk.”
The pet store owner motions to a bird and says, “this type of bird can talk. You can have him for a thousand dollars.” (Bill used a lower figure, but those were 1976 dollars which were worth a lot more, though when I spend a bicentennial quarter, nobody is interested in giving me anything extra for it.)
“Gee,” says the nameless adult male that walked into a pet store, “a thousand dollars is a lot of money,”
“He comes with the cage,” says the owner to keep the joke moving. (Imagine if I had to go through the whole process of him buying the cage, the feed, the little bird mirror, and all the other stuff that pet store owners say you HAVE TO buy after you’ve purchased a bird or they will report you to the ASPCA.)
(I wonder if Geraldo Rivera was ever a pet store owner.)
“Alright,” says the man in the joke that doesn’t own the pet store. (The pet store owner is gender non-identified. I think Geraldo once did a special on gender non-identified pet store owners, but was – sadly – not punched in the nose, so don’t bother looking for it.)
He (the gender identified customer) pays the (gender non-identified) owner, takes the bird and leaves.
Two days later he (being a male-specific third person pronoun in a joke with only one gender-specific character) returns with the bird. “You said this bird can talk,” the man complains. “I’ve been talking to it and feeding it crackers, but not a word.”
“Ah,” says the pet store owner, “sometimes there’s a problem with this breed. Their beaks are so large and heavy that they don’t lift them to talk. It’s easily solved though. Someone (gender unspecified) that knows what they’re doing can file it down. I know how to do it, and will do it for two hundred dollars.”
“I don’t know,” says the man (exhibiting stereotypical male cheapness,) “I’ll just do it myself.”
“All right, but you better be careful,” says the owner, “’cause if you file it down too short, you expose blood vessels and you kill your bird.”
“I’ll be careful,” says the man.
The next day, the man returns to the pet store with an empty cage. He’s looking very sad.
“You killed your bird, didn’t you,” says the owner.
The man nods.
“You filed its beak too short?”
“No,” says the man. “I crushed its head in the vice.”
This last joke is one I modified into song form for my popularly ignored, and critically unclaimed hit: Headley and the Rug (and Cral.) The tune is My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean.
Here's the tune
I once had a parrot, Amanda
Who did constantly swear, curse, and grouse
I put her out on the veranda
but still hear her through all of the house
Stop that, stop that
Stop that, Amanda, I plead, I plead
Stop that, stop that
Your language is dreadful indeed.
I’d yell, but she only got louder
I threw blanket and sheet o’er her cage
But I’d hear, loud and clear, through that shrouder
And that’s when I’d cry in my rage
The vet said I couldn’t use vice locks
I didn’t know what I should do
And so I threw her in the ice box
When I pulled her out, she’d turned blue
Warm up, warm up
Warm up, Amanda, I cry, I cry
Warm up, warm up
If you don’t thaw soon, you’ll die
instrumental interlude punctuated with Amanda squawking.
Said Amanda, I’ll heed your suggestion
And clean up my act, she did coo
But I have just one nagging question
What did the frozen turkey do?