gratuitous image
2 July 1996

Dutch Jokesmiths

I never understood why the Dutch are so funny until Mirelle and Wim related the ordeal they suffered when their children applied for admission to the exclusive Joke Smit School (Jokesmith Academy).

The application process was terribly arduous; Wim filled out a sheaf of application forms, some in duplicate, others in triplicate. Mirelle hired a consultant to provide advice on the best way to have her children admitted. In the end, both Wim and Mirelle agreed the interviews made the critical difference.

By all accounts Rommert's examination was an unmitigated disaster. Upon walking before the three stern members of the Joke Smit School's senior faculty, he said "My arms are tired, I just flew in from Paris." (How could poor Rommert have known that all three members on the panel loathed the French?) One of the teachers broke the stone silence by asking Rommert if that remark was supposed to be a joke. "Not as big a joke as three fat old turds in a row." That was the wrong answer, that was the end of the appraisal, that was the end of Rommert's chances of ever being admitted to the Joke Smit School.

Anneke, on the other hand, enjoyed spectacular success. For the riddle portion of the evaluation, she asked "What is orange and sounds like a parrot?" The three reviewers were atypically stumped, and one even let out a rare albeit weak chuckle when he heard the answer. ("A carrot.") When she knew that "Because God doesn't trust the buggers" was the correct answer to the obscure joke "Why doesn't the sun ever set on the British empire?" the triad were assured she had the makings of a scholar. She was in.

Eight years of rigorous training in the Joke Smit School destroyed whatever humor Anneke once may have possessed, and by the time I met her she was as stern and sullen as her parents and brother.

The Dutch are funny; have a workable solution to every problem. Perhaps the founders of the Jokesmith Academy got the idea from E. B. White: "Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it." The purpose of the Joke Smit School is to destroy a precocious child's latent sense of humor: that's hilarious!

yesterday | index | tomorrow
©1996 David Glenn Rinehart