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Are rich people funny?

An old woman raises her hand in church to testify.

She says, “I only have two teeth left in my mouth, but praise God, they’re hitters.”

I wonder if rich people are funny?

It’s a serious question and I’m having trouble finding the answer.

I’ve asked most of my friends, but as it turns out, I don’t have any rich friends, so no one seems to know.

The question came to mind because I know so many people who get through difficult lives with a little touch of humor.

A man goes into a bar and asks for five shots of the best Scotch in the place. The bartender lines up five shots of top shelf Scotch and watches in amazement as the guy pounds them down, one after the other.

“Wow,” the bartender says, “I’ve never seen anyone drink Scotch that fast.”

“If you had what I have, you’d drink fast, too.”

“What do you have?”

The man says, “Fifty cents.”

I was thinking about working-class humor, because my ½ inch electric drill burned out. I was drilling one-inch holes through some 100-year-old fir studs, and all of a sudden smoke, poured out and everything stopped.

The drill was 40 years old, so I imagine the warranty has expired.

Whenever I see an electric motor with smoke wafting out, I think of something a guy once said to me after it had happened to an expensive motor of mine.

“That’s the thing,” he said. “Once you let the smoke out, they’re no good.”

It’s the sort of thing you say when you’re standing at a parts counter, about to write a check for more money than you can afford to spend.

I’m certain rich people have problems. They are people, after all. I just don’t know what those problems are and how they deal with them. I don’t know if they have rich people jokes to tell when their yacht breaks down or when the kid that sat next to them in kindergarten calls out of the blue and asks to borrow three million dollars for a business idea.

Two guys on a job site, working too hard for not enough money. Bob says, “Harry, we got three kinds of wire on this job. Tig wire, tie wire, and why are you so damn stupid.”

Maybe this is a futile quest. Maybe rich people just aren’t funny. Humor might be something that developed because, for some people, being able to take a step back and chuckle is the only way to get through the day.

One of my all-time favorites stories is from a great writer named Larry Batson. He worked for the Minneapolis Tribune for many years, but he grew up poor in the Ozarks during the Depression. He wrote about riding into town with his father, and to make the time pass, they talked about what they would do if they found a ten-dollar bill – a fortune beyond measure. His dad said he’d buy a new pair of overalls, get some harness fixed - typical dad stuff. When it was Larry’s turn, he said, “Not me. I’d spend it all on ice cream, eat all I could, and go swimming in the rest.”

His dad sighed and said, “Well, Larry, you’re gonna die broke, but too happy to care.”

Now that’s funny.

Copyright 2020 Brent Olson

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