A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan.  Five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday, I present one of McLuhan’s observations and talk about its relevance today.  300 ideas. 300 days.  300 posts.

More than funny stories!

Marshall McLuhan (April 14, 1969, age 57).  A grievous thing happened to me on my way to the studio

I am indebted to Steve Allen who observed that all jokes are based on grievances.  That is why I collect funny stories.  Jokes provide a sensitive measure of what is bothering people.  For example drugs are one of the big grievances of our age.  Not surprising then that these two jokes have recently become part of my collection.  A reporter doing man-on-the-street interviews asks one man, “What do you think of LSD?”  The man replies, “He’s a great President.”  Then he asks, “What do you think of marijuana?” The man says, “My wife and I spent a week there on holidays and found it absolutely delightful.”

Me (April,  2010, age 57).  What are the jokes about now?

Even when he’s joking, and Marshall McLuhan loved jokes, it’s wise to take him seriously.  If McLuhan is right jokes are measures of what is bothering people.  Perhaps this is why so many old jokes aren’t funny.  They’ve outlived the grievances that gave them birth.

Judging by the comic strips in my morning newspaper, a commonly held current “public grievance” is the business presentation.  For example

“How was the presentation?” says one co-worker to another in Real Life Adventures.

“Very meaty,” she replies.

“As in ‘informative?’”

“As in ‘baloney.’”

What jokes do you think reveal our current public grievances?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading for this post

Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p. 367.

My earlier blog also on this topic.

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Michael Hinton Saturday, April 24th, 2010
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Culture, Vol. 1 No Comments

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