A funny thing happened, but we wouldn’t know it

Where did our senses of humor go?

We used to have them, you know, but they’ve suddenly disappeared and been replaced by the thinnest skins found outside of a peach orchard. No longer can we laugh at ourselves or snicker at the lampooning of one’s heritage, background or personal traits.
Done without malice, jokes of that nature are comical, not cruel. There’s nothing wrong with cultivating humor from such subject matter.
Or at least there wasn’t once upon a time.
During a recent trip to a retailer that sells DVDs I ran across one for the “Dean Martin Roasts.” Individuals old enough to recall those shows no doubt remember their popularity, and like any roast insults were the norm. But because TV censors in the 1970s were far stricter, coarseness was avoided.

What wasn’t avoided were jabs that today would get classified as “politically incorrect” — so much so, in fact, that the DVDs come with a warning label for more sensitive types.
Sorry, but this is insanity. If the people participating in the roast weren’t offended, why should anyone else be?
I broach this idea because I recently read in the Chicago Tribune that the Blackhawks will no longer be playing “The Stripper” at any time during hockey games. Apparently female fans have become upset by the song, a longtime staple at many arenas.
Again I ask: why? There were never any women being asked to perform the act in front of a crowd when the song got played. And the truth is a genuinely funny moment is connected with that tune — and it involves a guy.
Fans of the classic hockey movie “Slapshot” starring the late Paul Newman surely know the scene to which I’m referring. It occurs near the end of the film and involves a player on Newman’s team who refuses to engage in the fisticuffs that have made the club a big drawing card.
But to impress his wife who’s sitting in the stands, he instead skates onto the ice during a brawl and begins taking off pieces of his uniform. The arena organist pipes in with “The Stripper” and Newman’s player disrobes all the way down to his jockstrap while everyone — including the other players — watches in disbelief.
The captain of the opposing team soon lodges a protest with the referee and eventually bumps him while arguing. The official immediately forfeits the game — and with it the league championship — to Newman’s team.
And guess who skates around the rink carrying the trophy? I’ll give you a hint: He’s clad only in a jock.
Is it highbrow humor? No, but it’s still very funny, and the scene was put over the top by hearing “The Stripper” in the background. And, as I said, this one had nothing to do with a woman.
So come on, ladies, lighten up a little. It’s nothing personal.
The same day that Tribune piece came out I also read a columnist’s criticism of White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson for something the latter said the day before during an on-air rant. Harrelson was upset by a controversial play that led to a game-turning rally for the San Francisco Giants.
The play involved Major League Baseball’s new catcher-collision rule, designed to enhance catchers’ safety. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the edict, but frankly the umpire’s call in this instance seemed a reach simply because the only body part of Sox catcher Tyler Flowers that was blocking the plate was a small portion of his foot.
Even with full contact made the worst injury Flowers was apt to suffer was that his roast beef-eating piggy might have lost its appetite for a while.
The ump’s overreaction prompted the same thing in Harrelson, who went off on a bit of a tirade. During it Harrelson had the audacity to claim that soon baseball’s leaders would be asking catchers to don skirts.
Oops, that’s a no-no in today’s PC Land.
This particular columnist — a male, by the way — instantly took up the cause for females everywhere and castigated Harrelson for his insensitivity. I guess we’re assuming Harrelson was taking a direct shot at all women, but think for a moment about his words.
Now ask yourself: Would softball-playing females be wearing skirts? Nope.
I know female golfers and tennis players wear them, but we’re not talking about those sports. Hey, men wear shorts while playing tennis and basketball or running track, but the one time it was tried in baseball — by the White Sox no less — the move drew nothing but ridicule and laughter.
I guess Harrelson could have said “shorts” instead of “skirts,” but it’s probably not wise to bash the club that employs him. Besides since the idea of Sox players wearing shorts for a game was the brainchild of former owner Bill Veeck’s wife, we’d be right back to where we are now and Harrelson would be accused of an insult against women.
There are enough bad things going on in the world at all times to rightfully make us incensed — political corruption, financial woes, racial disharmony, to name a few. With repairs to be made in those areas, why would anyone seek to find more ways to upset themselves, especially when those items are totally inconsequential to our well-being as a society?
Let’s ease up already, folks, and try to find something to laugh about instead. Hey, have you heard the one about the Protestant minister, Catholic priest and Jewish rabbi …