Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Shaggy Dog Stories

The shaggy dog story is one of my favorite types of joke. It's usually an extremely long-winded story characterized by excessive and often irrelevant detail and finished off by an anticlimax or a totally unexpected punchline that's either irrelevant or a complex pun. Here are three of my favorite shaggy dog stories ...

An Indian chief had three wives (or squaws, in the language of the time). He was a vigorous and virile man, and soon all three of the squaws were pregnant. As the time of their confinement neared, the chief ordered that comfortable beds be prepared for each of them. The two junior squaws received beds made from the soft, prepared hides of wolves, while the third - favorite - squaw had a bed made from the very rare, imported hide of a hippopotamus. In due time all three squaws went into labor and delivered their children: the two women who slept on the beds made of wolf hides each had a single child - one a boy and the other a girl. The third squaw, however - the favored lady who slept on the bed made of the hippopotamus skin - bore twins, a boy and a girl. When the chief was notified of this, he thought for a while and then nodded sagely. "Makes sense," he opined. "The squaw of the hippopotamus hide is always equal to the sum of the squaws of the other two hides."

A man living in a remote village in Africa came down with a terrible stomach ache. He tried all the usual folk remedies to relieve the condition, but nothing worked, and so he finally broke down and went to his tribal shaman for help. The shaman studied the man carefully, then thought for a few minutes, consulted his notes, and decided on a course of action. He told the man to bring him a strip of untreated rawhide about a foot long. The man brought the rawhide thong to the shaman, who tied seven equidistantly spaced knots in it and gave it back to the sufferer. "Take this thong home with you," the shaman said, "And starting tomorrow, each day I want you to bite off one of the knots, chew it up, and swallow it. On the seventh day, after you eat the last knot, your stomach problems will leave your body when you go to the bathroom and excrete* what's left of the thong. The man went home and, as directed, ate one knot each day for the next week. But ten days later, he was back in the shaman's tent, complaining that his stomach ache was still there, and worse than ever. The shaman was puzzled and examined the man closely. Finally he sat back and shook his head in dismay. "I don't understand," he said. "The thong is ended, but the malady lingers on."

Everyone knows the story of how the legendary Carthaginian general Hannibal attacked Rome by doing the unexpected, leading his army over the snow-covered vastness of the Alps to attack from the north - the direction the Romans never expected. But as with all military campaigns, the tactical success of Hannibal's campaign depended on the logistics of supplying his army and getting it over the mountains. Most of the credit for this goes to Hannibal's chief of logistics, a brilliant Carthaginian engineer named George who designed huge racks made of logs that could be piled high with the army's tack and pulled along by the elephants that were the army's primary beasts of burden. George built the racks, the soldiers loaded them with supplies and equipment, and the army set out into the Alps with the elephants stoically pulling the enormous racks up the steep grades. Near the summit of one of the alpine passes, one of the elephants slipped on a patch of ice and stumbled, causing the leather straps that fastened the rack to his mighty shoulders to break ... and the heavily-loaded rack began a long, uncontrolled slide down the mountain. The huge rack thundered down the icy slope, gathering speed as men and beasts frantically leaped out of the way to avoid being crushed by its tremendous weight. As it roared along, it struck one of the war elephants, flipping it into the air, and dumping its riders to the round; the elephant landed on top of the speeding rack, bellowing in terror as its unexpected transport raced down the mountain. Far down the line of march, two weary, footsore Carthaginian soldiers were trudging along when they heard shouts and screams and a loud rumbling noise ahead ... they looked up and saw bearing down on them an enormous rack, loaded with supplies and with a huge elephant on top of the supplies, bellowing and roaring in fear as the rack sped faster and faster down the mountain. The two men leaped aside just in time to avoid being crushed by the speeding rack, and as they slowly got back to their feet and looked at the rack disappearing down the mountain, one man looked at the other and gasped, "Holy moley, what was that?" The other soldier looked down the mountain and replied, "It's a ramblin' rack from George's tack with an elephant engineer!"

Shaggy dog stories. Apply with care.

Have a good day. Send me a good joke if you have one. More thoughts tomorrow.


* I wasn't going to use the more graphic, earthy term ... children read this blog, after all.


eViL pOp TaRt said...

Those were great stories. I was not aware of this type of verbal humor before!

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

A great joke about the squaws!

Sinner Bob said...

I like shaggy dog stories. You have clued me into a new kind of humor genre.

Mike said...

Stephan Pastis would be proud.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

It's the 1930's and a member of the New York explorers club is hunting for rare animals in darkest Africa.

He comes across the strangest looking beast he has ever seen. It's a quarter part elephant, a quarter monkey, a quarter hippo and a quarter tiger and with a very sweet disposition.

They cage it and ship it to New York to the explorers club where he exhibits the creature that he calls a "Rarey" and gives a talk on it before the members.

Over a short period of time he notices that the Rarey is growing extremely fast and is soon too large to keep in a cage. He decides to return it to its home in Africa even though there is not enough food around to keep it alive. They reach the edge of a tall cliff and they both look over knowing that the Rarey, unable to survive, must go over the edge to his death.

The explorer says "Good bye old friend I will miss you". To his surprise the Rarey speaks for the first time. It looks down over the steep cliff and sings, "It's a long way to Tipperary".