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Home » ARTS AND CULTURE in ME » MAINE (all topics) » New Englanders Have a Sense of Humor
An Excited Boston Red Sox Fan Smiles Through The Crowd
New Englanders Have a Sense of Humor

By Michael F. Bisceglia, Jr. | July 25, 2012

Some folks think that New Englanders don’t have a sense of humor. Those folks are from outside the Great Kingdom of the Northeast, and they have us confused with New Yorkers.

Stamp of Alex Rodriguez from New York Yankees team

The possible reason why we New Englanders seem witless is the folks in “The Other 44” can’t make humor work as well as we.   People in other parts of the country may have a funny-bone, or two, but they want the listener to know where exactly the joke is.   Too often, you will hear someone say, “This is a joke.” It will be followed by something reasonably witty.   It will then be followed by, “That was a joke.” Certainly, those folks wouldn’t want the listener to believe that everything that came out of their mouth could possibly be humorous.

So much humor in the Wonderful Six is in the form of “Zingers.” We zing everything... ethnicity, old folks, young folks, politics (especially politics), ourselves, and sports (Yankees, in particular).

The truth is, those of us who inhabit this spectacular region can dish it out as well as we can take it.   Hey, haven’t there been one or two lines about “The Curse” which plagued the Red Sox for 86 years? But wasn’t revenge sweet, and weren’t the one-liners terrific?

“The U.S. Postal Service has decided to put pictures of the Yankees on their stamps.   Now people don’t know what side to spit on.” (That joke was loved by Red Sox Nation and understandably hated by the Evil Empire).

New Englanders don’t like to brag (we do, actually, but it’s not socially correct), however we’re a fairly intelligent group, and we can manufacture a turn of phrase woven into our communication that is nearly lethal.   Certainly, if your side splits open often enough, it has to hurt.

Paula Poundstone

Our humor can be very disarming, if you’re not from New England.   We use everything; the oxymoron, puns (very disposable humor, but I love ‘em), exaggerations, understatement, subtle references to Greek mythology... everything.   You name it; we use it.   If you happen to be on the receiving end of a New Englander’s verbal machine gun, you can suffer arterial bleeding to your feelings in nothing flat.

We have our patron saints (those who inspire us to explore thin ice and attempt to get away with it).   Folks such as Jay Leno, Adam Sandler (born in New York, but cut his comedy teeth in Manchester, New Hampshire), Steve Wright (also born under the flag of the Evil Empire, but his folks had the wisdom to move to Boston), Dennis Leary (very distant cousin or so my Aunt Helen tells me, and fellow denizen from Worcester, Massachusetts), and Paula Poundstone (transplant from Birmingham, Alabama to Sudbury, Massachusetts).

What makes New Englanders more witty than, say someone from Florida or Arizona? Well, the weather is a good bet.   Sometimes you just have to laugh at it, or you’ll go insane.

“The sun came out this morning, and then I woke up.”

It could be the tightness of our ethnic communities or our reactions to tragedy.

“Sorry to hear your mom died.”

“Yeah, well, she was trying to hold out for another Red Sox World Series win, but she was already 107.” (That’s a bone for Yankee fans).

Whatever it is, whatever magic we possess, New Englanders are funny folk... and that’s no joke.

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