THE TERM moron is a recent addition to the popular vocabulary, and the moron joke, much in vogue during the last few years, has the appearance of an American novelty. Yet in the European folk tales of fools and numbskulls we find the moron's counterpart. Doubtless the form of moron stories is new and strictly American, but its structure follows the earlier European fable.
For instance, the old Scandinavian tale of the men who dropped a bell into the sea by accident, then made a mark on the boatrail to indicate where it fell, is modernized in the story of the two little morons who went out fishing on Lake Worth early one morning. They fished and fished without getting a bite until along about sundown, when they struck a whole school of bass. It was getting so dark they could hardly see and finally they had to stop fishing. Before pulling up anchor, however, one said to the other, “Boy, I sure hate to leave all these fish. Why don't you mark the spot so we can come back and catch the rest tomorrow?”
“O. K.,” said the other.
They rowed to the pier and just as they were getting out of the boat the first said, “Say, how did you mark that spot back there?”
“I drew an arrow on the side of the boat pointing straight down to the very spot.”
They walked on up the hill toward town. “Gosh,” exclaimed the first moron, “what if we don't get that same boat tomorrow?”
The Finns told stories about the numbskull who laid a candle that had got wet in the stove to dry, or stood before the mirror with his eyes shut to see how he looked in his sleep. Another numbskull dug a hole so that he would have a place to throw the earth from another hole he was going to dig. An early Estonian fable tells of four men who carried their horse so that he would not tramp up the grain field. Today it would be four little morons, but the rest of the story is thoroughly familiar.
Naturally the terminology and locale of the modern joke are different. One moron is sitting at a soda fountain drinking a coke from a single straw, even though there are two straws in the glass. Another moron walks up and after watching him a few moments says, “Hey, you! Why you drinking out of just one straw?”
“Why, I ain't gotten all the coke out of the first one yet!”
Morons today are riding on streetcars and in “model T's,” going to football games and movies, using flashlights and taking vitamins rather than matching wits with pigs and cows and donkeys. Nowadays the moron who is thrown out on the street because he cannot pay his rent, sleeps with his head on the curb at night in order to keep his mind out of the gutter, not out of the pigsty.
Some of the jokes reflect the influence of Hollywood, the movies and radio on national life. One summer afternoon two nature-loving morons were strolling through the woods. They came by accident upon a nudist colony, and when one of the female nudists came in their direction, the boys ducked behind a bush. As she passed, one of them whispered to the other, “Boy, wouldn't she look good in a sweater!”
J. Edgar Hoover's efforts to eradicate crime in this country may be preserved for future generations in the story of the three middle-sized morons who climbed on a streetcar one day. The first asked how much the fare was, then dropped in the proper amount. The second did likewise. But the third just marched on by without paying.
“Hey, young fellow!” said the conductor, grabbing him by the arm. “Pay your fare.”
“My name is Crime. I never pay.”
It seems that moron jokes fall into two broad classifications. One type describes purely dumb stunts, such as that pulled by the little moron who went into a barber shop and climbed up in the chair. When the barber had carefully tied the barber bib around his neck, he asked, “What is it for you, sir?”
“A cup of coffee, please,” responded the moron.
The second type involves morons who use a word in the wrong sense, very frequently punning. Three morons were sitting in a drug store drinking cokes and discussing their careers. One was planning to be a doctor, another a lawyer, and the third said he was going to be a vitamin.
“You can't be a vitamin,” chorused the other two.
“Yes, I can,” replied the third moron. “Don't you see that sign over there: ’VITAMIN B1’?”
But enough analysis. Here are some moron jokes hot from the dim-wits:
A moron took cream and sugar to the picture show because he heard there was going to be a cereal.
Another little moron cut his elbow to see if there was any beer in the joint.
Two morons, Joe and Moe, were painting a house.
“Moe, you got a good grip on that brush,” yelled Joe.
“Well, hold tight because I need the ladder.”
A little moron cut a hole in the rug to see the floor show, but covered it up again because he didn't want to see the whole show.
A little moron was rushing madly down the street carrying a long ladder. When he paused for breath a man asked, “Where are you going, sonny?”
“Down to Mike's Beer Parlor.”
“Why are you carrying that ladder with you?”
“The drinks are on the house tonight.”
One day while strolling down a railroad track a little moron came upon a severed arm. He said to his companion, “That looks like Joe's arm.”
They walked a short distance further when they found a severed leg. The moron said, “That looks like Joe's leg.”
And a little way on they came to a torso which had all the extremities torn away as well as its head. The moron said, “That looks like Joe's body.”
In about a minute they ran onto a head which was removed from the body. Then the moron said, “That looks like Joe's head.” And he went over and picked the head up saying, “It is Joe's head. Joe, Joe, my buddy, you must pull yourself together.”
Two morons were comparing bank rolls as they walked down a side street one evening. One of them had a nickel and the other had a dime.
“What can we do with the money?” asked the smaller.
“I know what,” ventured the taller, “I'll go in and buy us some beer. You stay out here and watch for your old man.”
He went in to the bar, pitched the money down, and told the bartender that he wanted fifteen cents worth of beer.
The bartender asked, “What do you want me to put it in?”
The taller moron took off his hat saying, “Here, put it in my hat.”
The bartender filled the crown of the hat, but there was still more beer, so he asked, “Where do you want me to put the rest?”
Whereupon the moron took the hat, turned it over, and said, “Here, put the rest of the beer in the brim of my hat.”
The moron took the hat with the beer in the brim out to his friend who was still watching. The smaller moron knew that he should have got more beer than that for fifteen cents. “Where is the rest?” he protested.
“Here it is!” said the taller, turning the hat bottomside up.
Three morons were taking a cross country trip in a strip-down “model T.” As they passed through a small town by the name of Wesley, the brightest of the three said, “This Wesley?”
“No, it's Thursday.”
“So am I, let's stop and have a drink!”
One moron took a bottle of whiskey to bed with him one night so he could sleep tight, and the next night “took a bale of hay to feed his night mare.”
Another little moron cut off both his arms so that he could wear the sleeveless sweater that he got for Christmas and told his sister she would have to cut the fingers off of her right hand if she wanted to learn to write shorthand.
Two morons were wandering around in the dark one night looking for snipes with their flashlight. The one carrying the light stopped suddenly to say, “I'll bet you five dollars you can't climb up this flashlight beam.”
The second, not wanting to miss a chance to pick up an easy five, replied, “All right, I'll take that bet.”
So they both reached into their pockets to get out their money.
Then the second one stopped short, “Oh, no you don't!”
“What's the matter? Don't you think you can make it?”
“I can make it all right, but I'd get about half way up and you'd cut the light off!”
A moron was sitting in a hotel lobby writing a letter. He was writing very, very slowly. A bell-hop who had been watching him asked, “Who are you writing to?”
“Why are you writing so slowly?”
“I have to so she can read it. You see, she can't read very fast yet.”
A moron stood in a postoffice writing a card when someone asked, “Who gets that card?”
“I do, I am writing it to myself.”
“What are you telling yourself?”
“How do I know? I won't get the card until tomorrow.”
The little moron killed his mother and father, because he heard the church was going to have an orphans’ picnic, and he wanted to go.
A moronic football fan drove his car from Houston to San Antonio to a game. At the half he saw a friend who asked him to ride back to Houston with him in his car. The moron gladly accepted the offer. When he got home his wife asked him where his car was. Then he remembered he had left it in San Antonio. So he went down to the bus station and bought a round trip ticket to San Antonio in order to go after his car.
Two moronic dude ranchers had two horses. Neither moron could ever tell which horse was his. When they could not stand the strain of not knowing the horses apart any longer, they went to a professor friend of theirs, who was also a moron. They asked him how to tell their horses apart. He worked for two or three days on the problem, and finally came back with the solution. He told them, “If you will face the horses north when the sun is fifteen degrees above the western horizon, and stand off thirty paces, you will find that the black horse is about an inch taller than the white one.”
A man walked up to a street car stop and looked each way for a car.
“What'cha lookin’ fer?” asked the moron who was sitting on the curb.
“I was wanting to catch a street car,” said the man.
“Aw, it's already gone by,” declared the moron.
“How do you know, did you see it?”
“Naw, but there's the tracks it made!”
A boy was looking for someone with whom to play marbles. He came to the house of the little moron, who saw him from the window.
“Well, why don't you come out and play marbles with me?” he asked.
“I can't,” said the moron, “I'm locked in and I can't find the key.”
“That's too bad. What if there were a fire in your house?”
“I just wouldn't get to go, that's all.”
“Mom,” said the little moron, “I'm so glad you named me Egbert.”
“Why, son?” she asked.
“Because that's what all the kids at school call me.”
A lady came upon a little moron who was crying as if his heart would break. She noticed that he had a bleeding cut on his right cheek just below his eye. “Little boy, how did you hurt yourself?” she asked.
“I bit myself,” he sobbed.
“Now, how in the world did you bite yourself on your cheek?”
“I stood in a chair!”
A very prosperous moron went into a fashionable shop in Dallas to buy a suit of clothes. He asked to be shown a tweed that appealed to him. The clerk brought the suit out for closer inspection. The moron was pleased, but he asked,
“What about the material, will it last?”
The clerk replied, “Oh, yes, it's virgin wool.”
A man drove up to a crossing on the Concho River just below San Angelo. The river was swollen by recent rains, so he stopped to test the depth of the water. As he got out he noticed two little morons watching his every move, as they sat under a big pecan tree. He asked, “Say, boys, do you think I can get across this river in my car?”
After a hasty consultation they both nodded their heads in the affirmative.
The man jumped in his car, started the motor, and drove off in the water. Just about the time his car was completely submerged the man reached the bank. He came out dripping wet with murder in his heart, and screamed to the innocent-looking morons, “I thought you said I could get across that river all right, now look at my car, it's plumb out of sight. What do you have to say for yourselves?”
The freckle-faced moron put his hand on his chest and said, “That duck over there just went across and it just came up to here on him!”
About seven-thirty one evening three morons sat on a curb on Polk Street in Amarillo. A girl passed and they all whistled. In about ten minutes one of the boys said, “Boy, what a beautiful blonde!”
Another hour passed in silence, then the second moron jumped up and said, “She was not blonde; she was a redhead.”
Nothing else was said until along about twelve-thirty. Then the last moron got up, looked at the other two in disgust, and said, “Well, if you two don't quit this quibbling, I'm going home and go to bed.”
A friend of a moron had seen him very drunk on New Year's Eve, so when he saw the moron the next time he said, “Mortimer, I thought you could hold your liquor.”
Mortimer replied, “Gee whiz, Joe I can, just you watch me.” Then he grabbed hold of his tongue with three fingers and the thumb of his right hand, and said, “Thee!”
A moron was found beating himself on the head with a hammer. When asked why he was doing such a silly thing, he replied, “It feels so good when I quit!”