May 13, 2005

These are the yolks, folks

One of my profound joys in life is taking a plain, bare-bones joke and turning it into a story. I do so love making a simply two or three line joke into a story that draws people in, paints pictures in their head, and then delivers the punchline like a punch from a dark alley. I'm also quite particularly fond of jokes that can be told in strings, or have similar themes and as such can be told in succession, each adding to the previous.

These two jokes, then, I have to rank amongst my very favourite to tell. Not only are they utterly absurd but they can be developed as much or as little as I have time and desire to.

So the Hunchback of Notre Dame is dead, and the Cardinal of Notre Dame needs a new bell-ringer. He puts an ad in the Notre Dame Times, and the next day a young man appears in his office door. He tells the Cardinal "Sir, I am your new bellringer!"

The Cardinal looks up from his paperwork and notices immediately that the young man has no arms. Fretfully, he replies "But my good sir, how can you possibly..."

Without waiting for the Cardinal to finish the sentence, the young man shouts "Follow me, I'll show you I'm the best bell-ringer ever!" He dashes up the stairs to the belltower, and the Cardinal, huffing and puffing, follows him. When they reach the tower, tne young man immediately starts flinging himself at the bells, striking each one with his forehead. Surprisingly, a beautiful carillion begins sounding out from his playing, and a crowd immediately begins gathering at the steps of the Cathedral to hear the beautiful bells playing again.

The Cardinal is awed and overjoyed to hear this beautiful music pouring forth from the young man's efforts, and he starts forward to tell the young man that he's hired. As the Cardinal starts across the belltower toward him, the young bell-ringer turns to see the Cardinal approaching, and smiling he straightens up from striking a bell just as it swings back, pushing the bell-ringer off the ledge of the belltower where he falls straight to his death on the cobblestones below. The Cardinal, beside himself with grief, races down the steps to the waiting crowd which gathered around the body.

"We were all drawn by the beautiful music" a man in the front of the crowd says, "and we saw this poor, talented man fall to his death! So that we might build a beautiful tomb for such a talented man, pray tell us, Cardinal, what was his name?"

The distraught Cardinal, hanging his head, says "In his haste to prove to me how talented he was, he never told me his name. But his face sure rings a bell."

To add insult to injury, here's the second joke:

So the Cardinal of Notre Dame, being out of a bellringer again, places another ad in the Notre Dame Times. "Bellringer Wanted. Apply Notre Dame Cathedral." As soon as the paper is on the streets a younger man than the last appears in the Cardinal's office. "Holy Father, I am the brother of the young man who fell to his death from the bell-tower last week, we trained under the same man, and I sir am your new bell-ringer!"

The Cardinal notices immediately that the applicant has both arms, and remembering the last bell-ringer's incredible talent, and with a doubtful expression on his face, begins to ask "My son, could you..."

The young man, not waiting for an answer, beings racing up the belltower steps, shouting breathlessly behind him "I have great talent, Holy Father, let me show you!" The poor Cardinal beings his long way back up the steps. As he reaches the top of the bell-tower, he beings to hear a beautiful hymn being played on the bells, rolling out of the tower and across the rooftops. Already a crowd is gathering at the Cathedral courtyard. The young man is racing around the tower pulling the bell-ropes as fast as he can, keeping perfect time and pitch, and making a beautiful carillion.

The Cardinal, enraptured by this new miracle, walks up behind the younger man and touches him on his shoulder to get his attention, to tell him that he is, indeed, hired. The young man however, slightly deaf by the years of bell ringing, does not hear the Cardinal's approach, and the sudden touch startles him. The younger man takes a surprised step backward, and plummets off the bell-tower ledge to his death on the cobblestones below.

The Cardinal, beside himself with renewed grief, races down the steps. A crowd has already gathered from the beautiful music, and is standing around the body of the young man. When the Cardinal arrives, a woman in the crowd says "We were all drawn by the beautiful music, and then we saw this poor, talented man fall to his death! We would like to build a beautiful tomb for this, another God-gifted young man; tell us, Cardinal, what was HIS name?"

The Cardinal, hanging his head in heavy sorrow and shame, says "My children, I do not know his name. In his haste to prove to me, a doubting old man, how great his talent was he never told me WHO he was. But I can tell you this--he's a dead ringer for his brother."


Have a good Friday the 13th, ya'll.

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