Lincoln’s Humor

B. Nash: "Mr. Lincoln tell me a joke."

B. Nash: "Mr. Lincoln tell me a joke."

My father liked to tell jokes. He remembered all he ever heard, I guess. I don’t ever remember jokes. I don’t think I’m very good at telling the ones I do recall. Mr. Lincoln was a joke teller too. He remembered them and told them well-although sometimes he was the only one laughing. Lincoln was a “natural” I believe. Telling humorous stories and jokes seemed second nature to him. He was quick too. Almost any situation could bring a funny response out of Lincoln’s mouth as illustrated by the following story:
A Chicago hotel where Lincoln was staying featured ice cream. Lincoln pretended not to know of the dessert special. When the ice cream was served after dinner, he took a spoonful and recoiled, saying, “Say, waiter, I don’t want to slander this hotel, but this here pudding’s half-froze!”
From “The Wit & Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln” by James C. Humes
That was an example of the playful Lincoln. He didn’t have an agenda with his little joke but to have fun. Much of his humor was utilized to drive home a point that often infuriated others. Instead of simply saying “no,” for instance, he would tell a story that would essentially mean “no.” At times, others would roll their eyes at Lincoln thinking: “Oh no, not another story.” They learned in time to respect his story-telling, I think. No one else could tell a joke or a story like him. He took his natural gift and used it to lighten his own daily stress and to navigate through
the choppy river called “life.”
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