Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Wit and Humor of Abraham Lincoln


"Wit laughs at everybody, humor laughs with everybody."~
Abraham Lincoln

16th U.S. President, civil rights activist, self-educated lawyer, orator, storyteller par excellence.

Many a White House visitor was put at ease by the President's good humor and yarn spinning.

"I really think that Mr. Lincoln's propensity for story-telling has been exaggerated by his enemies. I had once the honor of conversing with him, or rather of hearing him converse, for several minutes, and in all that time he only told four little stories." ~ Sarah Jane Lippincott

Abraham Lincoln was a prodigious reader and fond of collecting stories and anecdotes.

A cabinet member recalls how the president once held up the reception line at a White House affair, in order to ask a guest to repeat an anecdote that he had told the president earlier. Lincoln apparently had forgotten some points of the story.

Lincoln would use anecdotes and humorous stories drawn from all classes of society to get across a point. No matter how complicated the subject matter was, people were able to see and realize the rationale of his argument through the simplicity of storytelling.

He also found solace in story telling. It seem to ease the burden of the presidency, especially the intense responsibility he felt for the issue of the civil war and the lives that were lost.

Abe Lincoln had a talent for spotting the ludicrous and humorous side in anything and everything.

A committee of sanctimonious war managers demanded General Grant's removal on the charge that he imbibe too much whiskey and was no better than a common drunkard. President Lincoln came to the defense of his successful general.
"Ah! You surprise me, gentlemen. But can you tell me where he gets his whiskey?"
"We cannot, Mr. President. But why do you wish to know?"
"Because I would like to send a barrel of this wonderful whiskey to every general in the army." the president answered.

Lincoln narrated this story in a light dig at the contentious and noisy critics to his handling of the civil war

"A frontiersman found himself lost in an uninhabited region on a dark stormy night. Accompanying the torrents of rain were lightnings and more terrible thunder. A bolt of lightning struck a nearby tree, causing the man to get down on his knees. Although not the church going kind, his appeal was short and to the point. "Oh, good Lord, if it's all the same to you, give us a little more light, and less noise."
(I would have love to see how today's crop of politicians fare at the foil tip of Abraham Lincoln's witty insults and clever comebacks.:)

The most trivial circumstance provided the background for his witty repartee.

A fellow lawyer, W.H. Lamon got into a scuffle that cause a large tear in the rear of his trousers. Unfortunately he had no time to change as he was due in court to take up a case. Because he had on a short coat, his misfortune was apparent. As a joke, other lawyers inside the courthouse started passing a subscription paper to buy a pair of pants for Lamon, -"He being a poor but worthy young man" the paper read. Several put down their names with almost ridiculous amount of donation.
Finally it reach Lincoln, who quietly glance over the paper.
Taking up his pen, wrote after his name, " I can contribute nothing to the end in view."

Abraham Lincoln was not handsome. Some would even say he had an ugly face. But he had a self-effacing nature that didn't hesitate to poke fun even at himself. During a heated debate, Lincoln was accused of being two-faced by an obviously hostile opponent. Without insulting the other man, he manage to defend himself and defuse the tension. 

Turning calmly to the crowd, Lincoln replied:
"If I had two faces, do you think I'd be wearing this one?"

Abraham Lincoln is among the most admire and revered U.S. presidents. He is the quintessence of what is noble in man. His wit and homespun humor added to that mystique.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

How to Insult a Cheapskate with a Clever Comeback

During summer school breaks, Jimmy the youngest son of a friend made the rounds in our neighborhood doing odd jobs to earn some extra cash.

Among our neighbors was a cheapskate I'll hide under the name Mr. Tightwaddle. People generally avoided doing business with him because he always drive a hard bargain and they often get the short end of the deal.

Espying Jimmy one early morning, the neighborhood cheapskate called out to the young boy to ask him to do some car washing chore. Well aware of the other person's stinginess, Jimmy reluctantly walk up to the neighbor's driveway while trying to think of a way out of his predicament. 

He studied the dilapidated and collision battered car but made no move.

"Well go to it then" the owner prodded. "You do know how to wash a car, don't you?"

"Yes sir!" There was a short pause then Jimmy's clever comeback, "but I don't know how to iron one."

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Clever "Anting-anting" Comeback to a military officer


A joke goes that Floyd Mayweather is afraid to fight boxing legend Manny Pacquiao because he heard Manny posses a powerful "Anting-anting" It is the Filipino word for amulet. It gives the owner great strength and invincibility. Even bullets supposedly can't penetrate the body an anting-anting possesor.

This isn't about Manny Pacquiao but my brother-in-law.

When the U.S. still had military bases in the Philippines, war games were often conducted near the provincial town where Orly, my brother-in-law lives. Sometimes the American soldiers would hire local civilians to act as insurgents in their mock wars. The ammunition are similar to those use in paint ball guns that put a marker on the body when hit. Orly would enlist for these "wars" because it was fun and the pay was good. Of course the natives would always lose because they were the bad guys and the Americans were badass Marines.

On one of these military maneuvers, my brother-in-law got "shot". 

Rules of engagement require the casualties to remain in place where they got hit. Unfortunately, something Orly ate earlier didn't quite agree with him and he was having stomach trouble. Try as he might he couldn't contain his uneasiness nor the grumbling inside him. Finally he got up and started running away from the area. A military observer notice this and yelled after my brother-in-law.

"HEY MAN, YOU SUPPOSE TO BE DEAD!"

"NO MAN, I HAVE ANTING-ANTING!" Orly yelled back as he continue running towards the nearest nature-provided toilet (behind some bushes).