Not everyone has a sense of humor. Some people just don’t know how to laugh or see anything funny in any aspect of life. I have a good sense of humor. Some writers make me laugh so hard I weep big tears. Twain could do that sometimes. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a very funny book and any number of his stories, such as “His Grandfather’s Old Ram” or “The Stolen White Elephant.” Of modern writers, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 is a very funny book in a black-humorish sort of way. The scene in which Major Major Major sneaks out of his office every day to hide from his military obligations is hilarious. And Dave Barry, the Florida columnist, often has me howling at his absurdities. A few years ago he came out with an essay about colonoscopies that helped me get through one of my own, if not laughing all the way into surgery, at least making me smile while under anesthesia. But of all writers currently with pen to paper—the one who can make me laugh so much I have to put book down and stop reading until I wipe my eyes enough to see the words again—Garrison Keillor and his tales of the odd denizens of Lake Wobegon is the winner. I’m not sure if one has to be a present or past upper-plains state resident to see his humor, but it certainly helps. In “Pontoon Boat” Pastor David Ingqvist took twenty-four visiting clergymen out for a ride on Lake Wobegon in Wally’s new twenty-six foot pontoon boat. And as everyone knows, in the Midwest, folks need at least twenty-eight inches of private space. What happened to the clergymen and the boat and the lighted barbeque grill had me nearly rolling on the floor. I tried to read passages aloud to Rosalie and could barely get the words out. Florian Krebsback tells jokes to his flock of ducks, one of which: So this couple went to get a divorce, she was eighty-nine and he was ninety-two—the judge said, “Why? You’ve been married seventy years and now you want a divorce?” “We hate each other,” she said. “We haven’t been able to stand each other since 1932.” “Why did you wait so long?” he said. “We wanted to wait until the children were dead. This woulda killed them.”
If you’ve never read any of Keillor’s Lake Wobegon stories or heard him delivering any of these stories on his radio broadcast called A Prairie Home Companion, you don’t know what you’re missing. If your life is a little barren and humorless, turn to Garrison Keillor and he’ll fix it right up.