Sunday, September 18, 2011


My Fellow Comedists,

As I continue to work on my paper for the upcoming meeting of the Lighthearted Philosophers Society, the topic of limericks has come up. In working on an account for what makes limericks funny, I took out of the library G. Legman's work, The New Limerick, which collects almost 3000 limericks from various times and places, the overwhelming majority of which I cannot reproduce here. Using the most vulgar of terms to describe the most vulgar of subjects, they make the man from Nantucket seem tame. The least salty of the volume would be a British rowing limerick:

A reckless young sculler named Box
Forced the Oxford Eight onto the rocks.
The crew shouted, "Bollocks,"
You've ripped off our rowlocks,
And horribly damaged our cox.

Why are limericks a preferred formed for ribald humor? Historically, it is a British form and being able to blame the Irish as an excuse to be unBritish was quite convenient. But what is it about the meter that so encourages coarser thoughts to be so well expressed?

Have any favorite limericks?

Live, love, and laugh,

Irreverend Steve