From Emo Philips
This morning I received thrilling news: a joke I wrote more than 20 years ago has been voted the funniest religious joke of all time! In case you’ve missed it, here it is:
Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, “Don’t do it!” He said, “Nobody loves me.” I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?”
He said, “Yes.” I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?” He said, “A Christian.” I said, “Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me, too! What franchise?” He said, “Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?” He said, “Northern Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”
He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.” I said, “Me, too!”
Northern Conservative, Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.” I said, “Die, heretic!” And I pushed him over.
Two things, however, have slightly tarnished my thrill.
First, the website that conducted the poll, Ship of Fools, did not attribute me as the author. Arghhhhh! Sure, it has been quite a while since I performed it. And true, I’m not on TV all the time like some comedians I could name if I watched TV all the time. But come on, guys! The slightest Google search! But back in the day … ah, my friends! That joke and I astounded the world! Everywhere I played, in the largest of British theatres, the audiences clamoured for it! I told it not once but twice on British television. A few years ago it was voted by my peers as one of the top 75 jokes of all time. It has been anthologized in several joke books, most recently in Italian; the translator gave me a copy a few weeks ago after one of my shows. He pointed the joke out, without telling me which it was … but I immediately recognised my old friend by the word “ponte”.
Second, I learned why Ship of Fools was running the poll … to shed light on the possible effect if the British government goes ahead with its intention to outlaw “offensive” religious jokes. Such a law would be a bad idea, for the simple reason that jokes are how we humans avoid violence. Jokes are our safety-release mechanism. Sure they can sometimes be offensive. So can burps. But if you ban them even worse results happen. And believe me, if someone tells a joke that truly offends, he or she will be punished for it. That’s one area for sure where the government can take it easy and relax.
So I hope the ban never goes into effect. But in case it does, I had better seize this last glorious moment to tell the rest of my religious jokes. Here goes:
· When I was a kid, I used to pray every night for a new bike. Then I realised, the Lord doesn’t work that way. So I just stole one and asked Him to forgive me … and I got it!
· So I’m at the wailing wall, standing there like a moron, with my harpoon.”
· A Mormon told me that they don’t drink coffee. I said, “A cup of coffee every day gives you wonderful benefits.” He said, “Like what?” I said, “Well, it keeps you from being Mormon …”
· I’m not Catholic, but I gave up picking my belly button for lint.
· When I was a kid my dad would say, “Emo, do you believe in the Lord?” I’d say, “Yes!” He’d say, “Then stand up and shout Hallelujah!” So I would … and I’d fall out of the roller coaster
· The “Guy on the Bridge” joke can be heard on E=MO Squared (1985) which coincidentally is re-released on CD this month. http://www.emophilips.com.