To me and my zany friends humor is a very serious matter. We study jokes and trade jokes and often argue about why some jokes are funny and others are not. We call each other Humor Masters, which in itself is a kind of mocking, facetious joke. As if there was such a ridiculous title and as if any of us would qualify.
I qualify all of the above because, in the August issue of True West we are planning a big In-din Humor feature, celebrating the lighter side of Native Americans and their under-appreciated senses of humor. Something I've long thought has been seriously overlooked. In addition to asking our Native American friends and writers to contribute, I've been scouring the web and elsewhere looking for Native jokes and sharing some of them with the Humor Masters to help me decide if we should use them.
Humor Master Question:
What is the difference between General Custer and Johnny Walker?
Johnny Walker is still killing Indians.
I sent this out last night to my Humor Masters and asked if they felt it was appropriate for the issue. Here are just a few of the replies:
"Not sure if it's appropriate but I sure did laugh."
"I'd say it depends on the audience. Like, this group appropriate? Yes. Facebook appropriate? Probably not. True West magazine appropriate? Negative ghost rider."
"Oh GREAT, Deena. Use logic."
"You can only run it if an Indian said it."
"Are you out of your flippin' mind!?! That offends even my right wing mindset. And most importantly, it's not funny!!"
—The Top Secret Writer
Full disclosure: The Top Secret Writer did not use the word "flippin'."
Now, obviously I have no intention of running this joke in the magazine without attribution (and Kathy Radina is correct). But, what if I told you the joke came off a Native American website that specializes in and celebrates In-din humor? To be more specific, would it make a difference if the teller of this joke was Native American AND a comedian?
Which brings us to context. In this age of Identity Politics it is very important to a large group of people to know exactly who is telling the joke and whether they are punching up, or down. Here's a good example: