If Quakers have a fault, it’s that they tend to be a Bit Serious. There’s a Puritan streak in there somewhere, what with the teetotalism and all, and even though there are at least two jokes about Quakers (I’ve told them before but I’ll tell them again in a minute) they – or we – don’t tend to be great comedians (Stephen Fry excepted, but then he’s not actually a practising Friend.)
So it was with immense joy that I pounced on a new Friends Facebook group. In addition to my ‘Withnail and I Appreciation Group’ which keeps me mentally healthy (see https://lizardyoga.wordpress.com/2017/12/02/hamlet-is-not-quite-as-funny/) the Quaker groups I belong to are all relatively respectful and calm, considering it’s Facebook, and people post lengthy screeds on subjects such as renewal and worship. But it’s not a bundle of laughs. Enter the Association of Bad Friends. I have high hopes that this will be a great source of merriment since it is a requirement of membership that you Be Funny – and if, as I hope, my membership is approved, I will tell them this story:
Once upon a time a local meeting decided to have a weekend away. They went to Woodbrooke and held lots of sessions on different subjects; then on the Saturday evening they decided to put on an entertainment. Part of this entertainment was a skit called ‘The Worst Meeting’ during which people arrived late (and noisily) a mobile went off and was answered, and I got up and told this joke:
Three pieces of string walk into a bar. The first piece of string walks up to the bar: the barman says, ‘Are you a piece of string?’
‘Well, we don’t serve pieces of string in here – get out.’
The second piece of string walks up to the bar. The barman repeats the question: the string admits to being a piece of string, whereupon he says, ‘I told your friend. We don’t serve pieces of string. Get out.’
The third piece of string is somewhat the worse for wear, all ragged at the edges and bulky in the middle. He waddles up to the bar. The barman sighs. ‘Are you a piece of string, too?’
‘No,’ he answers. ‘I’m a frayed knot.’
Such was the unusualness of this joke that some members of that meeting still call me ‘String.’
OK so here are the jokes about Quakers:
Q: Why are Quakers like economists?
A: Because when you ask three Quakers a question you get four different answers.
Q: Why do Quakers sing hymns so slowly?
A: Because they’re reading the next verse to see if they agree with it
I’ll let you know about the Facebook group.