David Bruce: The Funniest People in Families — Problem-Solving, Public Speaking, Sex


• A couple of American teachers who were best friends went on a trip to Mexico. Walking along a street, they were arrested and taken to the police station, where they discovered that they had been walking in a red-light district in which the only women allowed were licensed prostitutes. The fine for a woman without a prostitute’s license walking there was 20,000 pesos. Like most teachers, the women didn’t have much money, and what money they did have, they wanted to spend on their vacation, not on a fine. Fortunately, they found a way out of their dilemma: In order not to spend good money on a fine, and with no thought of taking up a new profession, each teacher avoided the fine by purchasing a prostitute’s license for 20 pesos.

• When he was a child, John W. Mauchly liked to read in bed at night, but his mother wanted him to get his sleep, so she sometimes checked to make sure that his light was out. Therefore, he invented a special lamp to solve this problem. When his mother came up the stairs to check on him, the lamp automatically went out. When she went down the stairs after checking up on him, the lamp automatically came on again. As an adult, Mr. Mauchly became one of the co-designers of the ENIAC and UNIVAC computers.

• Buddy and Vilma Ebsen were a famous brother-and-sister dance team during the 1930s. They danced to arrangements by Glenn Miller, who put a lot of brass into the arrangements. Sometimes, the brass players in small towns would object to playing the arrangements, so Buddy would ask his sister, “Would you go give them your brass-section smile?”

• Comedian Joe E. Brown’s household was filled with milk drinkers — they drank 17 quarts a day. Because so many milk drinkers were in the family, there often wasn’t any left for Mr. Brown to have a glass late at night after returning home from work. His wife solved the problem by putting the sign “POISON — DON’T DRINK” on one bottle each day.

Public Speaking

• William Jennings Bryan ran for President of the United States against William F. McKinley. While on the campaign trail, Mr. Bryan made a speech in which he told his audience that “come November, my wife will be sleeping in the White House.” A man in the crowd immediately yelled, “And if she is, she’ll be sleeping with McKinley.”

• The unmarried daughter of English statesman William Wilberforce campaigned for him. As she rose to speak, the audience chanted, “Miss Wilberforce forever! Miss Wilberforce forever!” She replied, “I thank you, gentlemen, but I do not wish to remain Miss Wilberforce forever.”


• A 1991 public service TV commercial in Spain showed a high school principal snooping in the locker rooms as students take gym class. The principal walks into the gym, holds a condom up high, and tells the students in a threatening voice, “I found this in your locker room. Whose is it?” A boy says, “It’s mine.” Instantly, another boy says, “It’s mine.” Then a girl says, “It’s mine.” Suddenly, dozens of students, all of whom resent the principal’s snooping, are telling the principal, “It’s mine.” At this point comes the public service message: “The condom is the most efficient method for preventing unwanted births and sexually transmitted diseases. Put it on. Put it on him.”

• As you would expect, Groucho Marx was very good at puncturing the pride of rich people. During World War II, so many men were away fighting that Groucho was forced to do his own gardening. A rich woman saw him, assumed that he was a real gardener, and tried to entice him away from the family that she supposed had hired him. She stopped her car and asked, “Oh, gardener — how much do you get a month?” Groucho replied, “Oh, I don’t get paid in dollars — the lady of the house lets me sleep with her.” (Of course, Groucho was married to the lady of his house.)

• A wealthy man once walked in his garden, where he saw his gardener and the gardener’s beautiful wife. Because the wealthy man wanted to sleep with the gardener’s beautiful wife, he sent the gardener on an errand, then told the gardener’s wife to shut all the gates of the garden. However, the gardener’s wife knew what he was up to, so when she returned, she told him, “I have shut all the gates but one.” The wealthy man asked, “Which gate is that?” She replied, “The gate that is between us and God.” After hearing her answer, the wealthy man begged her to forgive him.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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