Devlin-Scherer: Bean burger failures and other pandemic calamities

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For readers and for me, I thought a humorous column this week was just what any doctor would order. Reading pandemic jokes out loud found on the Internet, I alternately laughed and cried. What's funny about a pandemic? A reasonable question. Yet, 'The Last Laugh,' a 2016 documentary, considered the Holocaust as a topic for humor. The past, present and future walked into a bar. It was tense.

Sometimes humor is designed to jar us as well as help us survive.

"Anyone else's car getting three weeks to a gallon?"

I searched for jokes for kids. Standing by their kiddie pool, I said, "I have a pen that writes underwater, and then wrote 'underwater' on a piece of paper. One grandchild wrinkled her nose, turned away and said, "That's not funny."

I sat down, deflated. Although Stand Up Comedy Spots have not been calling, I was hopeful that my chosen jokes would be enjoyed by a familial audience.

Also not funny haha, but ironic, a New England Nursing Home reported FEMA sent XS gloves, children's masks and garbage bags with head and arm spaces cut out for PPE.

The ability to laugh can help us emotionally distance ourselves from a devastating situation.

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Friends from New Hampshire and we have been meeting for lunch in a cemetery. It's shaded and peaceful and everyone is 6 feet away. There is nothing social about this distancing. In Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio said, "Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man." As we enjoyed our tuna fish sandwiches together, the irony of our situation was not lost on us. W.C. Fields, as he died, said, "Better here than in Philadelphia." I, too, can think of places I would rather be with friends.

My relationship with my television is also on a downward course. Coronavirus Task Force sessions have produced a chorus of epithets. So many coronavirus jokes out there—so little time; it's a pundemic.

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During quarantine, texting has employed many of us, but the pay is just terrible. A guy texted a woman, found out she was a vegetarian, and thought, "I didn't even get to meat her."

Over 300,000 million people have joined Zoom. Four men, an Englishman, Frenchman, a Spaniard and a Dutchman, were on a Zoom call with their boss. The boss asked, "Can you see me? Their responses—"Yes, Oui, Si Ja."

Reading "Tales of the City," a charming paean to San Francisco in halcyon days, my book club buddies and I are reminded of how valuable all kinds of relationships are.

"Why is the virus called 'novel?'" "Well it is a long story."

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A comedy of errors have occurred during the pandemic. People have described shopping snafus. One ordered an outdoor shower for camping. Unfortunately, since this item was from China, it will arrive after camping season has passed, and since the shipping cost was huge, the deal vanished. Online ordering has required focused attention. Buyers who ended up with five bags of onions instead of five made a lot of French onion soup and one who neglected to double check for weights and prices of items ate an excessive amount of tortellini salad.

Pandemic pandemonium has resulted from constant decluttering efforts. An informal competition among friends yielded a range of 200 - 1300 pounds of garbage exiting residences. How much joy has been sparked! I bet everyone wishes they had more stuff to chuck but they can't decide what to wear to go to the dump.

"What is the loneliest cheese? ProvAlone."

"Why don't chefs find coronavirus jokes funny?" "They are in bad taste."

Some view humor about tragic situations tasteless. Nonetheless, as I make my first sweet potato burger, I am reminded of the joke I often make to guests about my own cooking; "eat before you come." Dismayed, I watch my veggie creation disassemble. And they said quinoa would hold it together. I wonder what will hold us together. It will have to be stronger than quinoa. Maybe laughter can save the day. After quarantine, will the 600 pound life show seek me out or do I contact them?

Roberta Devlin-Scherer has a doctorate from Temple University and was a professor at Seton Hall University for 20 years. She has written books, articles and poetry. She lives in Sunderland.


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