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September 12, 2005

Telling jokes on the Ship of Fools
Posted by Teresa at 11:17 AM * 47 comments

In response to Britain’s proposed anti-religious hatred legislation, Ship of Fools (my all-time favorite religious website) has been running The Laugh Judgment, which is a competition to find the funniest and also the most offensive religious jokes. They’ve posted their lists of ten finalists in each category, and announced the winners.

I was delighted: there were four jokes I hadn’t heard before. Check it out.

Comments on Telling jokes on the Ship of Fools:
#1 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 11:58 AM:

Now I want to know which ones you hadn't heard.

(They picked my personal favourite for the funniest one, although I've heard it used with Presbytarian sects instead of Baptist.)

#2 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 12:02 PM:

Methodist jokes:

http://www.asburylive.org/main.php?a=1&b=8

This church has a long tradition of laughter.

#3 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 01:29 PM:

I used to love this joke when I was younger and a practicing Catholic. Here goes:


The circus was in town, and a couple of the members of the acrobat troupe decided to seek out the Catholic Church for confession. The good father heard them one at a time, then finally perplexed, blurted out, "I can't quite place your accents, are you from around here?"

He was told that no, they were some acrobats from the visiting circus. "What kinds of things do you do?" he asked. Whereupon the acrobats started demonstrating their talents in the aisles of the church to the priest who had come out of the confessional to watch.

Whereupon Rosie O'Grady and Molly Malloy walk through the doors. Rosie takes one look at the goings on and exclaims to Molly (in a thick Irish brogue, which I can't do so well here), "Ach Molly, an' look at what the good father's givin for penance today. An' me without a stitch of underdrawers on!"

#4 ::: Abigail ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 02:52 PM:

Maybe it's that these jokes are obviously meant to be told aloud and not read, but none of them are funny. A few of the "offensive" jokes are good for a tiny 'heh', but nothing beyond that.

#5 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 02:54 PM:

I'm pretty sure the #1 funniest is original to Emo Philips, from his stand-up career; at least I've consistently seen it attributed to him.

#6 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 04:39 PM:

I'm with Abigail. The masturbation and Hitler jokes at least made me smirk, but that was about it.

The sectarian "Funniest" joke is a complete bore, obvious and overlong...maybe if I'd grown up sectarian...

#7 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 04:42 PM:

People are getting awfully worked-up over that law. It's mainly to stop the BNP and similar oiks from getting by the incitement to racial hatred laws by talking about "Muslims" rather than any one race.

#8 ::: Tim Kyger ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 05:12 PM:

I guess I'm just an insensitive boor. The number one "offensive" joke -- and if one thinks about it in any objective way, it *is* incredibly offensive -- had me laughing my head off here in the office.

In fact, it got me busted, as I started to laugh just as my boss walked by. He wanted to know why I was melting down.

He'd heard most of them...

#9 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 05:14 PM:

I thought quite a few of them were funny, but I'm easy. I'd heard most of them before, but I have no memory for jokes.

The "most offensive" - the girl on the cliff - was also the funniest for me, though. Their readers mostly didn't like it much, but as one of their commenters said, it's the inappropriateness of the response to the situation that's funny. But then, I laughed all the way through Natural Born Killers.

#10 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 05:20 PM:
People are getting awfully worked-up over that law. It's mainly to stop the BNP and similar oiks from getting by the incitement to racial hatred laws by talking about "Muslims" rather than any one race.

The fact that a given law is intended to prevent a certain narrowly-defined category of behavior has historically done little to prevent said law from being applied to all sorts of other behaviors.

#11 ::: Phil Palmer ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 05:21 PM:

I thought the four sinning nuns was the funniest. There is all at once a sudden crudity, a sudden breaking of the expectation of solidarity and a sudden contrast between consideration of the eternal (heaven) and the here and now with the holy water. And of course it has play with the contrasting stereotypes of nuns and hot chicks. Not bad for just a few lines of prose.

#12 ::: Manon ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 06:20 PM:

I hadn't heard the "whoever is without sin" one. That was pretty good. :)

#13 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 11:02 PM:

The best one I know isn't on there, and neither is the decently funny, extremely offensive one I made up. I hesitate to post them here, though, unless someone moderatorish okays it.

#14 ::: Lizzy Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 01:55 AM:

Thank you, Teresa. The jokes were okay, but the Fruitcake Zone was wonderful! Just what I needed to end a fairly awful day.

#15 ::: Sam Dodsworth ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 03:48 AM:

The fact that a given law is intended to prevent a certain narrowly-defined category of behavior has historically done little to prevent said law from being applied to all sorts of other behaviors.

On the other hand it's not very helpful to imply, as some opponents of this law do, that there's no difference between 'offensive' and 'an incitement to hatred'.

#16 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 06:22 AM:

The IRA man was in confession. "Bless me Father, for I have sinned. Yesterday I blew up an Army lorry and killed twelve soldiers."

The good Father was silent.

The IRA man went on: "The day before, I exploded a nail bomb just by an Orangeman's parade, and four of dem got blown to shreds. And fourteen bystanders as well."

The Father said nothing.

The IRA man continued, "And last week, it was me that put that bomb under that school bus and scattered them thirty-three kids in bits over the Falls Road, so it was."

The Father remained silent. "Can yer hear what I'm sayin' to yer, Father?" asked the IRA man.

"Yes, my son, and I want to hear your confession, too. I was just waiting for you to stop talking politics."

#17 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 06:30 AM:

*laughs out loud at Dave Luckett's joke*

I laughed at most of the jokes rated 'funny', and some of the jokes rated 'offensive'. I had heard a lot of them (I blurted out the punchline word for word on seeing the link title 'Whoever is without sin") but they're still funny.

I love Ship of Fools. If it and WitchVox ever had an interdenominational baby website, that would be my favourite religious site. Possibly even my favourite site.

#18 ::: Zed ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 07:25 AM:

What I found funnier than the offensive jokes themselves was just how politely the respondents explained how they were offensive and not funny.

hrc: good one.

#19 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 07:46 AM:

Ah, well, since Dave has broken the ice, first the funnier one, then the one I wrote:

Q. Why did Jesus Christ cross the road?
A. Someone nailed him to a chicken.

Q. Why is Jesus Christ always so depressed?
A. Wouldn't you be depressed if you'd waited two thousand years and still hadn't come again?

#20 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 09:24 AM:

A man comes out of a bar and walks unsteadily to the bus stop. The nun ahead of him in the queue looks him up and down, and sighs. "The demon drink!", she mutters. "What? I was just in for a couple of pints watching the football!" says the man.

"Just a couple of pints?" says the nun. "Well OK, we won, so I had a couple of brandys, too". "Hard liquor in the afternoon! There's no hope for you."

"And I suppose you're an expert on hard liquor?" he says, "drink a lot of it at the convent?"

"Of course not, we never touch it!".

"Well then, you don't know what you're talking about. Come inside with me, I'll buy you a brandy, and if you don't like it, I'll quit the drink myself."

"I couldn't be seen entering a public bar..."

"I'll bring one out to you!", he says.

"If anyone saw me drinking in the street..."

"In a coffee cup!" he says.

So in he goes and says to the barman "Give me a large brandy in a coffee cup, please.", and the barman says:

"Don't tell me that nun is out there again!"

#21 ::: Martin Schafer ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 11:08 AM:

My personal favorite religious joke is ...

Why does a Christian cross himself?

To get to the other side.

I'm also fond of

What does the H in Jesus H Christ stand for?

Hallmark, becaus God cares enough to send the very best.

#22 ::: Katherine Mankiller ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 11:28 AM:

My favorite:

A Jew, a Catholic, and an Episcopalian met the Devil at the gates of hell. The Devil asked the Jew, "What did you do to get sent here?"

The Jew looked at the ground, and said, "I ate pork."

"All right, in you go," the Devil said. He looked at the Catholic. "What did you do?"

"I ate meat on a Friday," the Catholic said.

"Yeah, yeah, in you go." The Devil stopped, and looked at the Episcopalian. "What on earth did you do to get sent here?"

The Episcopalian said, "I... I used the wrong fork."

#23 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 12:18 PM:

The one best jokeI've seen for the H in Jesus H Christ is: Haploid

#24 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 12:21 PM:

A minister, a priest and a rabbi went fishing on a lake.

The fish weren't biting, so the rabbi said, "I think I'll try fishing from that island over there." He climbed out of the boat, walked across the water to the island, and started fishing again.

After a while longer, the priest got tired of wainging for the fish to start biting, said, "I'm going over to the island, too", climbed out of the boat, walked over to the island, and started fishing.

The minister sat there (with no fish biting) for a while longer, said to himself, "My faith is as great as theirs, climbed out of the boat, and sank.

The rabbi and the priest turned to each other and said "We should have told him about the rocks."

#25 ::: Bill Humphries ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 03:39 PM:

I can't remember where I first saw this one, it may have even been here:

A non-religious family, concerned over their young son's grades in math, send him to a Catholic school.

After the first day, and thereafter, the child comes home, forsakes his Play Station and sets to working through pages and pages of math homework stopping only for dinner and sleep.

The first grades from the new school arrive, and the parents are pleased.

They ask their son: "is it the discipline, the uniforms, better teachers?"

The child answers, a haunted look on his face, "Mom, Dad, when I walked in the door to the new school, and saw that man nailed to the plus sign, I figured I better work hard at math so I didn't end up like him."

#26 ::: Leigh Butler ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 03:59 PM:

Most of the "offensive" ones were just stupid, to my mind. Though I confess I totally cracked up at the one about Jesus and the motel.

My favorite religious joke is very non-offensive, though that's not why I like it; I just think it's cute:

Tommy's mother was very upset because he had just brought home his report card, and he was failing Math. "I just can't seem to pay attention to it, Mom," he said. "It's so boring."

"I'm sending you to the Catholic school, Tommy," she told him. "They'll know how to make you pay attention."

So Tommy went to the Catholic school. A few months later he brought home his report card, and to his mother's delight, he now had an A in Math.

"Tommy, that's wonderful!" she said. "How did the nuns get you to pay attention?"

"Well, Mom," he answered, "When I got there on the first day and looked up above the chalkboard and saw that man nailed to the plus sign, I knew they meant business."

#27 ::: Bill Humphries ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 05:52 PM:

Leigh: that's where I saw it! 20 minutes in the future! Sweet, now the Eschaton's™ gonna smack me for causality violations. :)

#28 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 08:28 AM:

Similar to PJ's

A minister and a rabbi invite a friend of there, a Quaker, to join them fishing. They had been friends a long while, but this is the first time the Quaker had been invited, and he was highly complimented, since they knew all the best fishing spots.

So they are out in a boat fishing. After a while, the minister gets bored, the fish aren't biting, and he says, "I think I'll try fishing from that island over there." He gets out of the boat, walks across the water, and sits down on the island to fish.

The rabbi, after about 10 minutes, says, "I think I'll join him." He too gets out of the boat, walks across the water, and sits down on the island to fish.

Sure enough, the fish start biting near the island, and the Quaker sees it, so he gets out of the boat too and walks across the water to the island and startst ot fish there.

The minister says to the rabbi, "Hey, did you tell him about the rocks?"

And the Quaker says, "What rocks?"

#29 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 10:56 AM:

Nancy, you win. I hadn't met that version! I'd be ROFL, but I'm supposed to be working.....

#30 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 11:32 AM:

Little Timmy, carrying a box of kittens, meets the Baptist preacher, who says, "Oh, and are those Baptist kittens?"

Timmy says, "Yes, sir."

Next week, same kid, same kittens. The preacher says, "Hello, Timmy, how are those Baptist kittens doing?"

"Fine, sir, but these are Methodist kittens."

"But last week you said they were Baptists!"

"Yes, sir, but now their eyes are open."

#31 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 12:48 PM:

[Disclaimer: This might work better told visually. You'll see. Or rather, you won't.]

A Catholic priest and a rabbi find themselves sharing a train compartment. They fall into conversation about religion, each professing the belief that their path is the One True Way.

There's a horrid metal rending sound, and the train is thrown from the tracks, hurling the two men head-over-heels. After the train stops moving, the priest helps the rabbi to his feet. To the priest's astonishment, the rabbi crosses himself.

"Rabbi! Has our miraculous survival convinced you to join the Mother Church?"

The rabbi looks blank for a moment and then says, "Oh, no, I was just checking that nothing was damaged: wallet, watch, spectacles, testicles."

#32 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 01:13 PM:

TexAnne, I don't get the kittens one. Help?

#33 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 02:00 PM:

Lucy: if your eyes are open, you can see the truth.

#34 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 02:15 PM:

So it's kind of a joke dissing Baptists in favor of Methodists?

(I'm really close to clueless in this stuff, which is why I haven't even tried this thread till now. I can just about parse the rabbi priest minister jokes, but mostly because they don't depend on knowing a whole lot about Christian subtleties. I know just enough about Christianity to sing a gospel song washing the dishes but not enough to be sure I know what it means. I don't really know more about any other religion, though)

#35 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 02:54 PM:

Lucy: Yes, playing off a reputation for willful blindness among Baptists, the same reputation that makes Landover Baptist such a successful parody. Would it help to substitute "Republicans" for "Baptists" and "Democrats" for "Methodists"? That's how I first heard the joke.

#36 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 02:59 PM:

I've heard one about how to tell Baptists from Methodists in an Arkansas liquor store:
The Baptists are the ones hiding their faces in their coats. (This is much better done visually.)

#37 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 03:18 PM:

P J,

Speaking as an Arkansawyer, I'd like to say that joke is horribly offensive because it's true.

Here's a variation:

Q: Why should you never go fishing with one Baptist?
A: He'll drink all your beer.

#38 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 03:24 PM:

Hey, I heard it from an Arkansawyer! (I lived in Texas in a county which was officially dry, but there were sure a lot of 'private clubs' around that looked like bars to me. It isn't just Arkansas.)

#39 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 04:06 PM:

Oh yeah! I almost forgot!

What's the difference between Methodists and Episcopalians? Episcopalians will speak to you in the liquor store.

Why don't Baptists have sex standing up? The neighbors might think they were dancing.

#40 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 10:07 PM:

Heard on train this afternoon:

You're a photographer in NOLA, taking pictures of the death and destruction lef by Katrina. You see a man in the water, trying to swim to safety and obviously nearly exhausted. You recognize him (eventually) as GW. You have only a short time, possibly seconds, to make that crucial decision:

Do I use color or go for the subtlety of black and white?

#41 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 11:34 PM:

Also heard on train:

A rescue/retrieval crew in NOLA finds a man, beat up and nearly dead. He gasps out that he wants a priest. They don't have one with them, and hunt all over for a priest, with no luck.

Finally another refugee, a little old Jewish man, comes up. The rescuers ask him if he knows how to give Last Rites. He says, no, but he'd lived more than twenty years behind a Catholic church, and he'd heard them.

The victim is nearly dead by now, down to his last seconds. The Jewish man walks over to him, and says in his most solemn voice, "B ... twelve.

"I ... twenty-nine.

"N .... "

#42 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 07:04 AM:

How do you get rid of kudzu?

Put whisky on it and the Baptists'll eat it at night.

#43 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 11:53 AM:

P J,

I tell the damn joke myself. It's too true.

I forget where I saw this one, but it's also too true:

Q: Do you know George W. Bush's position on Roe vs. Wade?

A: George W. Bush doesn't give a shit how you get out of New Orleans, unless you can afford an SUV.

I've changed the punchline--it was originally:


A: Bush doesn't care how you get out of New Orleans.

I probably made it less funny by making it more offensive. I can live with that.

And the other religious joke I wrote years ago:

Q: Do you know the difference between a Muslim who thinks he can get to Paradise by killing for Allah, and a Christian who thinks he can get to Heaven by killing for Jesus?

A: No.

Q: Neither do I.

#44 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 12:13 PM:

adamsj: Too bad the people who need to hear these, won't. (I drive a fuel-efficient car -- take that, oh shrubby one! - but I don't like driving through water deeper than a few inches.)

Whay are there so many Baptist churches?
Every time members disgree on the interpretation of a verse, the church splits. (Asexual reproduction of churches - doesn't that make it cloning?)

#45 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 05:36 PM:

Now, P J, you've just told an old left-wing political joke:

Q: What do you get when you put sixteen Trotskyites in a room?

A: One proletarian movement, led by two parties, with four vanguards, in eight splinters, representing sixteen tendencies.

#46 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 05:55 PM:

an old left-wing political joke

or fannish? (Ask three fans about something, get at least seven opinions.)

I'll have to ask my brother if he's been to a Green Party meeting, and if so, what it's like.

#47 ::: Rick M ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 02:01 AM:

Drop that cross one more time, buddy, and you're out of this parade!

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