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Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

Needed -- Irish Humor

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

by Tom Purcell

Thank goodness St. Patrick's Day is near. We sure could use some Irish humor about now.

We're in a nasty war, after all. Partisan politics are in high gear. Hillary is tearing away at Obama. And all our press cares about is the saga of Anna Nicole.

I prefer to think of Murphy instead. During the French Revolution Murphy and two others were sentenced to death for spying. The executioner walked the first man to the guillotine. He asked the man if he wanted to lie on his stomach or his back.

The fellow said he wasn't afraid to die. He chose to lie on his back with a clear view of the blade. But when the executioner pulled the lever, the blade jammed. And because no man could be sentenced twice for the same crime, he was set free.

The second Irishman was given the same option. He chose to lie on his back. The blade jammed again and he was set free.

Then it was Murphy's turn. He, too, chose to lie on his back. But just as the executioner was about to pull the lever, Murphy yelled:

"Wait! I think I see what's causing the blade to jam."

St. Patrick's Day always brings out the gratitude in me -- makes me remember how extraordinarily blessed my country is. Which reminds me of the one about Donahue.

He worked 80 hour weeks his whole life, never a holiday. After his children married and his wife died, he decided to enjoy life. He got a face lift, a hair transplant and an expensive new car. He jumped in his car to go out on the town one night. But on the way, he was hit by a truck and died instantly.

When he arrived at the Pearly Gates, he approached St. Peter. "What's going on here?" he said. "I worked hard all 'me' life and when I finally go out to enjoy things, I get killed? How could you let such a thing happen?"

"Well, if you must know the truth, Donahue," said St. Peter, blushing, "I didn't recognize you."

St. Patrick's Day also makes me more civil towards my fellow man -- more eager to promote brotherly love. Which reminds me of the one about McAlister. One Saturday night, he went to the pub and ordered three pints. When the bartender asked him why he wanted three, McAlister explained:

"I've got two brothers, one in America and one in Australia. Every Saturday night we go to our respective pubs, order three pints and drink with each other. Right now, they're sipping three pints, too."

McAlister continued his tradition for several months. But one Saturday he ordered only two pints.

"Sweet goodness," said the bartender, "did one of your brother's die?"

"The brothers are fine," said McAlister. "It's just that I quit drinking."

When filled with the Irish spirit, I am able to accept my losses and failures with greater grace. Which reminds of the time Paddy died.

His wife went to the newspaper to place his obituary. The newsman said the cost was $1 a word.

"I only have $2," said Mrs. Paddy. "Just print 'Paddy died.'"

The newsman decided that old Paddy deserved more. He gave her three extra words at no charge.

"A kind man you are," said Mrs. Paddy. "Print 'me' husband's obituary this way: `Paddy died. Boat for sale.'"

I can't wait for St. Patrick's Day to arrive this year -- can't wait for the Irish spirit to breath some much needed levity into an ever-crabbier world. Which reminds me of the famous Irish dancer who decided to go to confession one Saturday.

Father Sullivan began asking her about her work. She explained that she was an acrobatic dancer, but the priest didn't know what she meant.

"I'll show you, father," she said.

She stepped out of the confessional and went into a series of cartwheels, hand-springs and back-flips. An elderly woman turned to another parishioner and said:

"Look at the penance Father Sullivan is givin' out, and me without 'me' bloomers on!"

Tom Purcell is a nationally syndicated humor columnist. Contact him at TomPurcell@aol.com