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DETERMINED to cut the budget, the former governor directed that all government jobs remain unfilled once vacated. There were many complaints, one concerning the retirement of a drawbridge operator. When Personnel refused to fill the position, the highway-division manager called the governor's office. "Ask the governor," he told an aide, "whether he wants the bridge left down so the cars can go over — or up so the ships can go through."

As A six-foot-six-inch foreign-service officer and the new American consul in Porto Alegre, Brazil, I was delighted with the friendliness of the Brazilians. By the end of the obligatory receptions and cocktail parties, I was always surrounded by an animated group. I was devastated, however, once I learned the key to my popularity. Apparently, at the beginning of these large gatherings, spouses would say to one another, "When it's time to go, I'll meet you next to the American consul."

THE politician for whom I work received a letter from a Grade 5 pupil thanking him for his hospitality during her class visit to the provincial capital. The letter concluded with, "P.S. You have been exposed to chicken pox."

NEW YORK CITY'S Mayor Ed Koch is rarely caught off guard. But during a televised ceremony marking the opening of the New York Taxi Drivers Institute, Koch was out-Koched. Chatting with 80-year-old Reuben Cohen, probably the city's oldest working cabdriver, Koch said he regretted that he had never had the opportunity to ride with Cohen. "Oh, but you did!" declared the cabby, reminding the mayor of the time and circumstances. Without a pause, Hizzoner smiled broadly and said, "Now I remember the trip!" "And I remember the tip!" cracked Cohen.

I RETURNED to my hotel in Scotland as a dinner for visiting Members of Parliament from London was ending. I asked my friend, the town clerk, how the evening had gone. He said the town's officials had been impressed with the scope of knowledge exhibited by all the visitors, and with one person in particular, on whom questions gradually focused. Not recognizing this oracle, my friend introduced himself and said, "You seem extraordinarily well informed, sir. What constituency do you represent?" "Oh," replied the visitor, "I am not one of the M.P.s. I am the bus driver who brought them."

ONE of the burdens of office of the small town mayor was his brother in-law, a fellow who liked to throw his or, rather, his in-law's political weight around. The mayor had instructed his policemen and other city officials to treat him just like they would any other taxpayer. The brother-in-law got a ticket for overtime parking. He immediately descended in fury on police headquarters, waving the ticket and sputtering, "Hey, do you know who I am?"  The desk sergeant surveyed him calmly, picked up his telephone and dialed the mayor's office. "Tell the mayor," he said to the secretary, "that his brother-in-law is down here and can't remember his name."

IT BEGAN to pour as two of the candidates for Maine's gubernatorial nomination arrived at the Bath Iron Works to talk to workers as they came through the gates. Both candidates stuck to their posts, getting soaking wet as they passed out campaign leaflets and shook hands. They were hoping to impress the workers with their dedication and perseverance, but one man walked past them, shaking his head. "I wouldn't vote for anybody," he said, "who doesn't know enough to come in out of the rain."

A STORY about Russia's former premier Leonid Brezhnev tells of the time he wanted to impress his mother. First he showed her through his sumptuous apartment in Moscow. Then they traveled by chauffeur-driven limousine to his dacha in Usovo, where he showed her the marble reception rooms and gave her a fine lunch of caviar and crab. She still appeared unimpressed. So he flew her in his private helicopter to his hunting lodge in Zavidovo, where a fire crackled in the huge fireplace of the banquet room.  Through the day the old woman seemed increasingly ill at ease. Not being able to stand her lack of comment any longer, Brezhnev burst out, "Well, Mother, what do you think?"  "It's nice, Leonid," she said hesitatingly. "But what if the communists come back?"

A TROUBLED American communist wrote to his superiors: "I thought my job as a party recruiter would be easy. But I can't get through to my neighbours. In the spring they're polishing their cars. They're vacationing all over the world during summer. In the fall they're rooting for a World Series winner, and you can't get them away from their VCRs during winter. Please tell me what I can do to make them aware of how really oppressed they are."

MY COUSIN, whose parents are both officers in the Indian Administrative Services, received a phone call late one night from someone who wanted a favor. The caller asked for my cousin's father and was told that he had retired, meaning that he had gone to sleep.  "May I speak to your mother, then?" the caller persisted.  "She's also retired," said my cousin. "But can I give them a message in the morning?"  "No, don't bother," he replied. "If they're no longer in service, they won't be able to help me."

I WAS campaigning in my third re-election bid for local council. At one house the owner reluctantly listened to my campaign pitch while he looked at the brochure I had thrust into his hand. After a few minutes, recognition dawned. "I remember you now," he said. "I voted for you once. What happened?"

ELECTION results in the Regional Municipality of Sudbury, Ont., had a bit of a twist. Among the council members were two new faces — Charlie White, a retired welder and mayor of the town of Walden, Ont., and Peter Wong, a civil engineer and the mayor of the city of Sudbury.  Since the two newcomers had often been at opposite poles of the political spectrum, pundits predicted that regional councilors would have to decide between White and Wong.

A FEW years ago in Peterborough, Ont., the old bridge over Jackson's Creek had been damaged by flooding, and a one-lane Bailey bridge was erected temporarily in its place. This "temporary" measure lasted for more than a year, much to the chagrin of a service station owner whose business suffered drastically.   Following a municipal election in which a dentist was voted into the office of mayor, the service station owner posted a notice which wryly proclaimed: "Oh, good. Our new mayor specializes in bridge work."

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Last updated October 02, 2015 by Becquet Enterprises