No. 1003



When it comes to humor, the Scottish essayist Thomas Carlyle hit the nail on the head when he said, “Its essence is love; it issues not in laughter, but in still smiles, which lie far deeper.”
This thought came to mind when I read a list of famous sayings by the famous cowboy humorist Will Rogers. While he died in a plane crash in 1935, three years before I was born, his legacy has nevertheless made an indelible mark on me. Several years ago I spoke at a banquet in Claremore, Okla., near where he was born and the home of the eight-gallery Will Rogers Memorial Museum. While there I toured his museum and was so impressed at all the various things he was good at -- syndicated newspaper columnist, author of six books, star of 71 motion pictures and America’s premier radio commentator. If you have never been there, I can highly recommend it.
As a tribute to his memory, I thought you might enjoy reading some of his wise advice: “Never squat with your spurs on -- Never slap a man who’s chewing tobacco -- Never kick a cow chip on a hot day -- There are two theories to arguing with a woman. Neither works -- Never miss a good chance to shut up -- Always drink upstream from the herd -- If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging – The quickest way to double your money is to fold it and put it back in your pocket – There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading, the few who learn by observation, the rest of them have to urinate on the electric fence and find out for themselves (I have amended his language a bit) – Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.” Lastly, this bit of wisdom: “After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The MORAL of the story is: when you are full of bull, keep your mouth shut.”
He also gave a list of 10 things to know about getting older, something we all do if we live long enough. Regardless of your age, I believe you will appreciate these, especially if you have a sense of humor.
First: “Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it. Second: The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for. Third: Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me! I want people to know why I look this way. I’ve traveled a long way, and some of the roads were not paved. Fourth: When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to youth, think of algebra. Fifth: You know you are getting old when everything either dries up or leaks.
Sixth: I don’t know how I got over the hill without getting to the top. Seventh: One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it’s such a nice change from being young. Eighth: One must wait until evening to see how splendid the day has been. Ninth: Being young is beautiful, but being old is comfortable. Tenth: Long ago, when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks, it was called witchcraft. Today it’s called golf. And finally here is a bonus: If you don’t learn to laugh at trouble, you won’t have anything to laugh at when you’re old.”
It has always been my personal belief that good, clean humor should be a vital part of our character. As a speaker, one of the things I am always careful about is using self-deprecating humor and making myself the butt end of my jokes. It is always a mistake to use humor that is not flattering for anyone, especially someone in the audience. There is a lot all of us can learn from Will Rogers, and those like him; namely that we should have fun and that everyone leaves having enjoyed being there.
(Editor’s Note: THE DEAL OF THE CENTURY – Begin your day on a positive note – 365 days for $12. This will benefit the Bookcase for Every Child project. Go to to subscribe.)