Wit-hering Heights



“You think you’re funny but you’re only half.”

“Half what?”


“That’s so funny I forgot to laugh. OW! That’s what you do? You hit me when I don’t laugh at your dumb jokes?”

“I guess.”

“That’s clever.”

I grew up in a witty family. I was the least funny of the four of us (“Except to look at!” Apparently I’m channelling my brother when he was 8) but funny enough. As I grew older and entered the world of people who are NOT my family I’ve learned that not everyone had such an advantaged childhood. They don’t get my jokes a lot of the time. “You’re kidding, right?”


My metier is wit with a tinge of sarcasm. The family style was more sarcasm with a tinge of wit. I don’t like the sarcasm, but it was part of my childhood indoctrination into surviving in the Kennedy family and the larger extended family of my mom’s sisters. Real wit is situational, and, sadly, I can’t just sit here and display wit for the sake of this blog post.

My poor Uncle Hank (married to Aunt Jo) thought I was hilarious and if I got him laughing (giggling my Aunt Jo called it) at the supper table, Aunt Jo would send him outside.

My dad liked puns. My mom had nothing but contempt for them and said they were “Not wit. The pun is the lowest form of humor.” We — my dad and I — secretly held that she just didn’t get them.

I think wit is a useful thing for surviving the absolute idiocy and horror that is ordinary life on earth. It keeps us from looking at it all too seriously and becoming immobilized by angst. But it can get you into trouble, too. 😉



11 thoughts on “Wit-hering Heights

  1. My son is witty, dead on target and has us practically rolling on the floor. Humour is all important. I wished my witty responses were as good. Some people don’t get humour, witty or puns. I LOVE them! snickers loudly.

  2. Got Garry into a ton of trouble in the Marines. The DI would yell at him and Garry would laugh because it was just like the movies. He did a lot of KP with a toothbrush, but he never stopped laughing.

    I learned to mumble under my breath. Many of my jokes worked best if no one besides me ever heard them.

  3. Samuel Johnson tagged puns as the “lowest form of humor”, but then again, he HATED puns.

    I prefer this quote instead:
    “A pun is the lowest form of humor—when you don’t think of it first.” – Oscar Levant

    • My experience over the years with Swiss people is that there is a “Swiss” humor and it’s not exactly like American humor and I’d say not like British humor (which I think is the sine qua non of humor all over the world). I used to have to explain funny things to my Swiss students all the time, even when they were near native English speakers. But my friend Rainer is one of the funniest people I’ve ever known in a definitely different and rather dry way.

      • The Swiss have a sort of dry humor which can also be quite funny, although they take things seriously which I find amusing. I might be biased, but I love the English humor, as black as it comes.

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