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A feghoot is a subcategory of “joke” and “pun,” and is sort of a fusion of both.


In the case of a standard “joke,” you tell a short story that leads up to a “punchline,” a twist that renders the preceding story funny. A “pun,” on the other hand, is a humorous play on words.


A short joke, for example would be “I went to bed last night, and dreamed I was eating marshmallows. Then I woke up, and my pillow was gone.” A pun, on the other hand, would be, “I’m sick of bad chemistry jokes. Let’s barium.”


A feghoot is both, with the added element that the recipient may or may not know that he is being TOLD a joke; feghoots tend to be considerably longer than ordinary jokes. The laughs come from (a) attempting to spot the clues and put the pieces together before you get to the punchline, or (b) being completely unaware of the joke until the punchline arrives, and it’s a blatant pun.


A feghoot is NOT a shaggy dog story, because shaggy dog stories do not end with puns. A feghoot ALWAYS ends with a pun based on the information provided in the story. If it ends with a pun, it’s a feghoot. Length is arbitrary, but it tends to be longer than most jokes.


TV comedy writer Mark Evanier, for example, told a story on his blog recently that qualifies, in which he mentions that a friend of his was the second lead in a stage production of “Sunset Boulevard,” and sent him a pair of complimentary tickets. Evanier decided to call up a woman he knew and ask if she wanted to go. The lady says, “The big production downtown, starring GLENN CLOSE?” Evanier said that this was so, and the woman broke all records getting to his place, and they went and saw the play and had a great time.


A week later, another friend was visiting, and she sees the playbill on his coffee table. And in a frosty tone, she says “You went and saw Glenn Close without me?” in a voice that could shave the electrons off an atom. Evanier sheepishly admitted it, and the woman says, “You will get more tickets and take me to see Glenn Close.”


Evanier tries to explain that he only had the two complimentary tickets, but the sharp woman is not having any, and thus Evanier has to call his friend and see if more tickets can be had, but he will gladly pay for these, yadda yadda, and tickets are found, and a date is made.


And on the evening in question, our happy couple steps out to the theatre... but upon arrival, there seems to be a problem. People are angry. There are loud voices among the gowns and tuxes. The box office person is looking hunted. It seems that Glenn Close, for whatever reason, will not be appearing tonight; the role will be handled by her understudy, and the crowd is NOT happy about this. One man is shouting that he traveled halfway across the country to see Glenn Close, and now she’s not performing? Another is angry that he paid premium prices for the tickets, and now the main reason for doing so is gone.


The theatre manager comes out and attempts to calm down the crowd, but they aren’t having any. He explains that he cannot FORCE Ms. Close to perform, but the crowd seems to think that he should.


He offers to validate parking, free of charge, but that doesn’t accomplish much.


And finally, in desperation, he whips out a pocket humidor and offers one particularly loud gentleman an expensive cigar.


“I don’t WANT a &%#$& CIGAR!” shouts the angry man. “I want GLENN CLOSE!”


And Evanier, standing nearby, shows the wit -- and wisdom -- that made him a TV comedy writer, and quips, “Cigar, but no Close.”




If Evanier had ended the story here, it would be a classic example of a feghoot. As it is, the crowd didn’t think he was very funny, and he reports that had he and his date not done a fast fade, he might well have been the first person ever lynched over a bad pun...

My personal supply of feghoots is limited. Anyone know any?

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The friars were behind on their belfry payments, so they opened up a small florist shop to raise funds.

Since everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist across town thought this was unfair. He asked the good fathers to close down, but they would not.

He went back and begged the friars to close. They ignored him.

So the rival florist hired Hugh MacTaggart, the roughest and most vicious thug in town to "persuade" them to close. Hugh beat up the friars and trashed their store, saying he'd be back if they didn't close up shop.

Terrified, they did so, thereby proving that: Hugh, and only Hugh, can prevent florist friars.

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I've heard that one in slightly altered form; it had to do with the friars setting up a stand in front of the Playboy Mansion to sell flower bouquets to support the order, and Hugh Hefner didn't like it, so he took them to court...

In other news: I am led to consider the singer Bobbie Gentry.

Talented and lovely, she is well remembered for her rendition of the ballad "Ode To Billy Joe" which is well remembered by thems of my generation. It can be heard here on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_E3UIeZUCs

What is less remembered is her somewhat less successful followup, which continued the story started in the original ballad.

Y'see, Billy Joe had a younger brother, name of Odie Joe. The song is about him.

Odie Joe meets a girl name of Tally, and they fall deeply in love, which in most country ballads is a sign that something very bad is going to happen sometime after the third chorus, right? But in the meantime, we find out something unusual about Odie Joe: it seems he has no TEETH, a thing which is never explained in the song. But this is okay, because Tally loves him anyway, and it turns out she has no teeth either.

And sure enough, after the third chorus, we find out that Tally's father is a dentist... and that he has been constructing a set of beautiful porcelain dentures for his beloved daughter.

Well, Tally is overjoyed, and everyone compliments Tally on her beautiful new smile, and they compliment Dr. Hatchie on his excellent dental worksmanship, and everyone is happy.

Except Odie Joe, who still has no teeth. But Tally loves him anyway. But now she has a beautiful white smile, and Odie Joe still talks like he has a mouthful of cotton balls and doesn't dare smile. He envies her dentures. And, finally, poisoned by his envy and his own self loathing, he steals Tally's dentures and flees town.

Tally is shattered by the double loss of her teeth and Odie's betrayal. And Dr. Hatchie launches into a search to find out where Odie Joe went. And sure enough, he finds him. But instead of confronting him with a shotgun, as one would expect in a country song.... Dr. Hatchie simply sends him a bill for the dentures.

The name of the song is, of course... Bill To Odie Joe.


With the haunting refrain of "The Day Odie Joe McAllister Jumped Town With Tally Hatchie's Bridge."

*double rimshot*


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