Saturday, May 11, 2019

Weekend Post

Mother's Day in Sunday.  Give her a call.  For me this holiday resonates a lot more now that my own mother has passed.  If your mom is still with us take the time to tell her you love her.  You may not always get that chance.  And a special shout-out to Grandmothers.  Believe me, it's a lot easier to chase around a 2 year-old when you're 30 instead of 65. 

But that leads me to this hopefully-not-controversial weekend's post. 
This is my favorite mother joke. Actually it's a mother-in-law joke and it comes from the very politically incorrect but screamingly funny AMOS & ANDY SHOW.

DISCLAIMER:  I don't want any outraged 2019 comments on how I'm promoting body shaming or I'm a racist, whatever.  It's a JOKE.  A joke that was written almost 70 years ago.  Enjoy it in context.  Admire its construction.  How bizarre that I feel I have to post a WARNING disclaimer over one stupid joke.  But I do.  If you're worried you might possibly be offended click out and I'll see you Monday. 

I believe this joke was written by Mosher & Connelly (who went on to create LEAVE IT TO BEAVER and THE MUNSTERS).

The Kingfish sets up a blind date for "Mama". Hoping the poor guy would like her and take her off of his hands he arranges for Mama to go to the beauty parlor. He's talking to the hair stylist, describing Mama. He says (and I'm paraphrasing), "Picture a grapefruit that's been out at sea. And it washes ashore, all covered with seaweed and crabs. Now it sits in the sun for a couple of weeks and gets all wrinkly and rotted and bugs are now flying around it. Can you picture that?" The hairstylist says "Uh huh." And the Kingfish says, "Good. If you can make her look that good I'd be satisfied!"


Jeff Alexander said...

It's the kind of joke that is funny whether the people involved are African-American, Jewish, Australian, German or any nationality/creed. I don't find it "racist" at all.
And I think you're right.
Joe Connelly/Bob Mosher were Amos 'N Andy writers/producers (at least on radio and maybe TV) for many years before Leave It To Beaver.
And Beaver, Wally and Eddie Haskell really were kid/teen versions of Amos, Andy and the Kingfish, after all.

Anonymous said...

"Call your mama. I wish I could."
- Bear Bryant

Johnny Walker said...


Mike Doran said...


When I was a kid in Chicago circa 1960, Channel 9 once had daily reruns, back-to-back, of Amos 'n' Andy and The Honeymooners.
The Honeymooners - Gleason and Carney, Irish - my people.
To a kid, it all flows together - funny is funny.
And as kids, my brother and I thought that Tim Moore, the Kingfish, was one of the funniest people we ever saw (no ethnic adjectives required).

*Side Note: I've heard that just before his death in 1958, Tim Moore made a guest appearance on Jack Paar's Tonight - and brought the house down.
Had he not passed just then, who knows what might have happened when the Great Kerfuffle came about … *

Filippo said...

This reminds me of a BROADWAY DANNY ROSE joke: “My Aunt Rose, take my Aunt Rose. Not a beautiful woman at all. She looked like something you'd buy in a live bait store”...

sanford said...

I thought Amos and Andy was very funny. I didn't find it racist at all. I knew nothing about Tim Moore.

Mike Bloodworth said...

Since my mother passed several years ago I honor other people's mothers. I buy flowers or potted plants for neighbors or my friend's moms that are still living. As I get older more and more of my friend's parents are dying off.
As it says in Exodus, "Honor thy father and thy mother..." if possible. One can't be sure how much time any of us have.
Happy Mothers Day.

Buttermilk Sky said...

I can imagine Ralph Kramden saying the same thing about Alice's mother. Loved both shows as a kid. AMOS & ANDY gave black actors a rare opportunity to play all kinds of characters, a whole world that would, ironically, begin to vanish in a few years when African Americans could work, live, shop and go to school outside the "ghetto."

Peter said...

2019 is starting to rival 2016 for tragically untimely celebrity deaths. Rest in peace to the extraordinarily beautiful Peggy Lipton.

Unknown said...

"How bizarre that I feel I have to post a WARNING disclaimer over one stupid joke. "

Because we're in a Culture War right now, and we're all combatants, whether we like it or not.

Brian Phillips said...

I'm not a writer by trade, my livelihood is not based on my writing, but I have written. So the following may be invalid to those who are.

The issue is race and it is not.
The issue is context.

When viewed through my eyes, Lois Lane is a woman that keeps getting into trouble and some (Super)man has to help her out of it. Viewed through my Mom's eyes, "Lois Lane was a hero to us girls. She was out there, trying to get that story...". That caused me to look at that character and I realized:

- She was single
- She had a job
- She had a brain
- She often scooped Clark Kent and many other male reporters.

That's pretty heady stuff for the late 30's and 40's.

The problem is that there are those that feel that you have to STAY there and there are those old heads that say, "Why can't we go back to the good old days when Lois Lane..." and the answer in part, is because, it was by and large assumed women pretty much had to get married to a man, raise kids and stay home and were also pretty much dumber than men.

Now to Amos and Andy. As ONE Black (African-American) man, this is how I feel. The joke is hilarious. I like reading it every year. It has to do with the old Mother-in-Law trope, nothing to do with race and it is typed without inflection-influenced punctuation.

Amos 'n' Andy, the characters, were business owners, and also, as far as the TV show is concerned, the cast was us. The radio show's writing was good, and it lasted a long time.

The problem is context.


There was no counter-balance. If you saw a White villain on one channel, there were heroes on another or even on the same show. If you, like me have some kid quoting "What's Happening?" catchphrases at you because he thinks you look like one of the guys (I didn't) , it's because that was the only Black people he saw regularly.

And it wears on you.

Times change and let's get it straight: I got off light, but I still got a bit of it and other folks in my family can tell similar stories.
I cannot say that I'm immune to such things. I laughed at Porky Pig, but my buddy that had a stutter that got called Porky did not, not that I made fun of stutterers, but I can dig how he didn't exactly find it funny and I never engaged him in a conversation that started, "Yeah, but Porky in Wackyland is REALLY good..."

The lines are not definite. Good writing covers a great deal of sins and rose-colored glass nostalgia makes us forget the lousy stuff that surrounded it. Times change. They simply have to. Yes, of course there are those that are itching for a fight, but if it is written well enough, you have your defense.

Case in point: the "That's My Boy?" episode's *SPOILER ALERT* punch list hinges on the fact that the couple that Rob thinks has their baby is a Black couple. Someone in a chapter of the NAACP was offended and said, "You're making fun of the fact that they're Black!" and the retort was, "No, we're making fun of the fact that Rob's a jerk!", which, in my eyes, is absolutely right.

Other episodes cast us as, an old Army buddy and a government agent. I'll let Latinos weigh in on Joby Baker in the bullfighter episode, though.

If you don't know the times, if you don't have the ethnicity/gender/sexuality, you may wish to temper your remarks. Your nostalgia may come at the cost of someone else.

That is the challenge of creating. Creative licenses are issued all the time, but sometimes they need renewal and/or retesting.

In the meantime, learn to watch/read in context.

Brian Phillips said...

...also, the arguments of what is and isn't proper to laugh it is a VERY old argument. I can point out a Popeye cartoon )"It's The Natural Thing to Do"), or a Jack Benny episode that addresses exactly this.

One issue that we have is access to a great deal of media, more than ever before. someone will inevitably dig deep and someone will not dig what they dug up.

Nothing new under the sun.

blogward said...

Yes, that joke is funny. But mainly because you don't realise what a truly vicious put-down is going to result from the build-up. Of itself it's vitriolic.