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August 11 is Presidential Joke Day

presidential joke dayToday is Presidential Joke Day. On August 11, 1984, while preparing to give a weekly radio address from his ranch in California, Ronald Reagan was asked to do a routine sound check.

Although the president enjoyed telling jokes about Russia, on that morning his remark was meant only for the sound engineers getting ready for the National Public Radio broadcast. Instead of counting “one, two, three” and so on, the president said:

My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation which will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.

The comment was captured on tape and leaked to the media, then the world. NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw reported that on August 15, 1984, a coded message sent from Soviet headquarters placed troops on wartime alert, stating, “We now embark on military action against the U.S. forces.”

The alert was withdrawn 30 minutes later, after ships in the North Pacific contacted headquarters to question their orders. The official word from the Kremlin claimed that someone in the Far Eastern Command had declared a state of war without authorization.

Some U.S. officials believed the Soviet government had sanctioned the action to retaliate against Reagan’s offensive words. Others thought it was a joke. One speculated the culprit had been drunk. We’ll never know because the guilty party was never revealed.

Setting aside its questionable humor value, we must conclude that Ronald Reagan’s joke is the most powerful ever told because the hard feelings it engendered could have caused a nuclear war.

Hear the quip here. Have a happy Presidential Joke Day and remember: Always, always, always assume the mic is live and don’t say anything you wouldn’t want to hear on the six o’clock news!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

 

July 21 is Invite an Alien to Live with You Day

Today is Invite an Alien to Live with You Day. Relax! We aren’t talking about the aliens that a certain reality star turned politician has said are coming to murder us and steal our jobs—although, once we’re dead, they’d technically just be taking advantage of sudden employment opportunities.

invite an alien to live with you day

When “Ay” met “Nanu nanu”

This type of illegal alien comes from the planet Ork. Robin Williams was born on July 21, 1951; he was introduced to us as Mork on February 28, 1978, when his spaceship crashed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and he wandered onto the set of Happy Days.

On September 20, 1977, the show had aired an episode that would later inspire the term “jump the shark,” which connotes the moment when the quality of a particular program begins to decline. In it, Fonzie dons water skis—still wearing his signature leather jacket, of course—and proves his courage by jumping a shark tank.

When series creator Garry Marshall announced, less than five months later, that his eight-year-old son had suggested they put a spaceman on the show, everyone involved thought it was a horrible idea. Actors agreed: Dom DeLuise and Roger Rees backed out of playing Mork. Two days before the shoot, a staffer tracked down a comic she’d seen doing an alien bit and brought him in.

As writer Brian Levant told E!,  “It is 3:30, we have a run-through of this episode, which is considered to be the biggest piece of s–t in the history of the show and it was brilliant. The run-through lasted an hour and fifteen minutes of a 22-minute show. And it was Robin Williams’ literal birth as an entertainer.”

Marshall’s spinoff Mork & Mindy premiered on September 14, 1978, and ran for four seasons, seen by an average of 55 million to 60 million per week. Viewers were taken in by Williams’ frenetic, madcap style and impish charm. He was a walking verb orbited by exclamation points.

After he committed suicide on August 11, 2014, it was revealed that he’d been suffering from Lewy body dementia, a progressive brain disease that can cause visual hallucinations, memory loss, decreased mental focus, rigid body movements, sleep disorders, anxiety and depression. Today would have been his 65th birthday.

Perhaps the best way to celebrate today is to acknowledge our sadness and then remind ourselves of the gifts he gave us by watching Mork and Mindy, his comedy specials or a marathon of our favorites from his movie career. He once said, “The truth is, if anything, I’m probably addicted to laughter.” We certainly got hooked on him.

There are hundreds of Robin Williams quotes online. Many are scripted lines, which shouldn’t count, in our opinion. So we’ll say up front that he spoke the following words as Mork from Ork. We don’t know if he ad-libbed any of it, as he was famous for doing, but it sums up what we hope he knew:

“I don’t know how much value I have in this universe, but I do know that I’ve made a few people happier than they would have been without me, and as long as I know that, I’m as rich as I ever need to be.”

We miss you, Robin.

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

July 10 is Clerihew Day

clerihew day

Edmund Clerihew Bentley

Today is Clerihew Day, a holiday that celebrates the birthday of British author and journalist Edmund Clerihew Bentley (July 10, 1875-March 30, 1956), who invented the purposefully silly type of rhyming verse that bears his middle name.

A clerihew consists of four lines in AA, BB rhyming couplets. (The first and second lines rhyme with each other; the third rhymes with the fourth.) According to legend, Bentley constructed the first clerihew as a schoolboy, regarding Sir Humphry Davy.

Sir Humphry Davy
Abominated gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered Sodium.

To which we would like to add:

We’re not sure why Davy
couldn’t stomach gravy.
Was it his fault?
Did he add too much salt?

One of our favorite clerihews comes from X.J. Kennedy’s Famous Poems Abbreviated:

Once upon a midnight dreary,
Blue and lonesome, missed my dearie.
Would I find her? Any hope?
Quoth the raven six times, “Nope.”

Here’s our challenge to you, dear reader:

Why not compose a clerihew?
If you enjoy it, write a few.
Soon you will be called a poet
But none will say you didn’t know it.

Have a happy Clerihew Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

July 1 is International Joke Day

international joke dayToday is International Joke Day. In 2001,  Richard Wiseman enlisted the aid of the British Association for the Advancement of Science(BAAS), founded in 1831 and now known as the British Science Association (BSA), in conducting a yearlong study designed to discover the world’s funniest joke and learn about the psychology of humor.

They created the LaughLab website to enlist the participation of people around the world. Its survey asked each test subject to share his or her favorite joke, then collected demographic information such as age, sex and country of residence, and finally asked them to rate a random selection of jokes submitted by others.

To elicit quantifiable results, the survey required all participants to rate the jokes’ funniness using a special “giggleometer” invented specifically for the study.

By the end of the experiment, LaughLab had received more than 40,000 jokes and 1.5 million ratings. After collating the results, and taking into account which jokes made men laugh versus women, kids versus adults, country versus, well, other countries, Wiseman and the BAAS determined the world’s funniest joke. It was submitted by Gurpal Gosall, a 31-year-old psychiatrist from Manchester, England.

Here it is:

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, “My friend is dead! What can I do?”. The operator says “Calm down. I can help. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.” There is a silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says “OK, now what?”

Have a happy International Joke Day! What’s your favorite?

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays