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By Gene Farinet

Decades ago, right out of out of college, the ad in the joke magazine read:

“Become a witty talker in five days. Make active use of your sense of humor. Make people laugh AT ONCE. No course to study. No lessons to learn. Never over one sentence long.”
The first comic dictionary, the grand daddy of one-liners, was born.

“The funniest wisecracks on politics, Congress, communism: Numerous belly laughs and button busters on the human body. Barrels of breezy gags on women and girls. A sidesplitting collection of sports humor. Hilarious humor on different types of criminals. Loads of laughs about the military. No end of food laughs from soup to nuts.”

Then the sales pitch:
“Only $3.95 plus postage for a deluxe edition, bound in genuine buckram, expensively engraved in 22-Karat (CQ) gold.’

No kidding! Maybe this was the open door to a career.

With book in hand, I compiled a personal joke file, “borrowing” zingers from the top Mister Nasty’s of that day.

Could I make it as a writer in the world of comedy? Surely, TV is going to need a lot of material. But as they say in show biz, let’s cut to the chase. My horse quickly ran out of the money.

Instead, I spent four decades as a news producer and writer in radio and television. Rubbing shoulders with network suits, politicians, public relations flacks, many of who could easily have auditioned for a gig at the local comedy club.

Anyway, the other day, while rummaging thru my storage bin in the basement, I found that gag file from the 1950’s.

Talk about showing age! They’re almost quaint now.

Judge for yourself, but comics made a living off these one-liners.

“Well things could, be worse, you could be here in person.”

“How could you be a split personality? You haven’t got enough to split with anyone.”

“You’re the swashbuckling type. From the waist up, you swash and from the waist down, you buckle.”

“You’ve got a head on your shoulders, and it’s the little things that count.”

“Why don’t you take a long walk on a short pier.”

“You’d make a great pause for station identification.”

“The next time you wash your mouth out, leave it out.”

“How would you like to come out to my car and smell the exhaust pipe for awhile?”

“Your mind if so weak, you ought to wear crutches under your ears.”

“You’re a cad. No, you’re lower that a cad. You’re a Pontiac.”

“With a little more schooling, you could become mentally deficient.”

And let me say this in closing:
I don’t have to do this for a living. I could go always go back to my old job --

“Selling hatchets for splitting headaches”

“Putting talcum powder on chafing dishes”

Gene Farinet, an award winning veteran newsman, spent much of his long career at NBC News as a writer and producer working with Frank McGee, Ed Newman, John Chancellor and Tom Brokaw, covering space, politics and special projects everywhere in the world.



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