Remember a time, in the 70's, when people told inappropriate but hilarious ethnic jokes? And we laughed uproariously and without impunity? Then turned around and retold them? Why were we able to poke fun at our stereotypical ethnicities without getting our collective noses out of joint? Stereotypes wouldn't exist if ethnic behaviours didn't exist to begin with. Then they get exaggerated, like a caricature and thus become very amusing.
I don't take offense at those kids of jokes at all. I think we've all gotten way too sensitive. It's like, lighten up for crying out loud and get a sense of humour about yourself.
My dad loved a good ethnic joke. For example, his Irish friend would tell dad the joke but change the ethnicity to Portuguese, because my dad was Portuguese. Or "Portagee" as it would be pronounced. My dad would laugh and laugh, then turn around and tell it to my Uncle Dick, changing the ethnicity to Italian. My Uncle Dick would tell it to my Uncle Yimmy Wilkowski, and change it to Polish. And the circle of life moved on. I wish I could remember the jokes, but only one ever stuck with me b/c it cracks me up, and so as to avoid offending anyone, I'll use "Italian" and poke fun at my own heritage: Why are there only 2 pall bearers at an Italian funeral? Because there are only 2 handles on a trash can. *rim shot* Thank you. Thank you very much. I'll be here all week.
Uncle Yim was a great guy. He was a very simple man, uneducated, sometimes profane, but he was funny as hell and he had a heart of gold. Sharon, Diane and I adored Aunt Glady and Uncle Yimmy. He called himself a Pollack, told, and laughed heartily at, Polish jokes. We were devastated when he died suddenly, when we were still in high school.
So I never really noticed when the ethnic jokes stopped, but you just don't hear them any more. Unfortunately I found out how frowned upon they are now, a few years ago at work.
You guys know I adore my boss. He's a wicked funny guy. He laughs easily. I joke around a lot, I always have some smart ass comment to make and I have seen him choke on his coffee and/or lunch if he's caught off guard with a funny quip. One day we were talking about what we studied in college. He told me that he minored in Polish literature. Before I could stop myself, I blurted out, "You mean there was more than one book?" I cracked myself up with that one, lemme tell ya, but Steve just stared at me. We're talking *crickets* "Is this thing on? *crickets* MmmmBombo!" Oh did I mention that Steve is Polish? From Michigan? Is distantly related to Lawrence Welk? So I'm sitting there hoping the floor will open up and swallow me as he glared at me. I think I broke the tension by saying something like, "Note to self: Do NOT make Polish jokes in front of Steve...." and he finally laughed, and then we talked about how he doesn't find ethnic jokes funny but I find them to be hilarious. I mean, I don't really think that Polish people are stupid and he knows that, but he didn't think that crack was at all amusing. If I'd studied Italian literature and someone cracked, "you mean there was more than one book?" I would have peed myself laughing!!
But come on! I know they are everyone's guilty pleasure. Those inappropriate jokes are a scream. Diane and I would rattle off rapid fire amputee, ethnic, Helen Keller and dead baby jokes to our families at holiday dinners and watch the adults crying from laughter (although I'm sure the quantity of alcohol being consumed probably contributed to their enthusiastic mirth). It's just no one wants to admit they secretly think that at least some of those jokes are funny. Have you ever, in 2010, watched an episode of "All in the Family" from it's first or second season? My jaw hits the floor at the stuff that was allowed to be said on TV back then. And no one poked fun at other ethnicities like Archie Bunker did. Maybe that's why those jokes were so popular when I was growing up. None of my relatives or my parents' friends ever took offense at jokes aimed at their heritage. If "All in the Family" aired today as a new show, with that kind of humour and ethnic slurs, I see all kinds of different groups boycotting and raising holy hell about the things Archie says.
Why can't we poke fun at ourselves anymore? Things have gotten way too PC and are taken too seriously. All we do anymore is bitch and piss and moan about EVERYTHING we hear. Don't be afraid to laugh. We've lost our sense of humour. Let's get it back. Laughter is a good thing!