New­fie jokes and the bond that joins us

The Compass - - OPINION -

So this New­found­land Pen­te­costal preacher fin­ishes his ser­mon on Sun­day morn­ing and walks to the back of the church to greet and shake hands with his parish­ioners as they leave.

Soon he comes upon the sev­enyearold son of a long-stand­ing mem­ber.

“ Good morn­ing, Freddy,” the preacher says, reach­ing out to shake the boy’s hand.

As the preacher takes Freddy’s hand, he feels some­thing in his palm. “ What’s this?” the preacher asks. “Money,” says Freddy, a big smile on his face. “It’s for you!”

“I can’t take your money, Freddy. It wouldn’t be right.”

“But I wants ya to have it. Me fad­der says youse the poor­est preacher we ever had, and I wants to help ya.”

This is one of hun­dreds of jokes found in the lat­est New­fie joke book, gram­mat­i­cal er­rors and all.

This edi­tion was com­piled by Natasha White.

Born in St. John’s, she was raised in Dildo. Is this in it­self a New­fie joke? Natasha’s pub­lisher sug­gests she “ un­doubt­edly de­vel­oped her witty sense of hu­mour” in the Trin­ity Bay com­mu­nity.

Com­plet­ing her high school ed­u­ca­tion in New­found­land, Natasha made the move to Al­berta, where she cur­rently works as a writer.

I don’t know if this is Natasha’s first book, but it’s cer­tainly the one that’s go­ing to re­ceive a lot of at­ten­tion — both pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive — in the days to come.

Al­ready, three re­sponses, rang­ing from the con­dem­na­tory to the lauda­tory, can be found on the chap­ters.indigo.ca web­site.

At one end of the spec­trum, Dianne Ross writes, “For too long, New­found­lan­ders have been pur­ported to write this crap them­selves. I se­ri­ously doubt it. No other nation, mi­nor­ity or ethic group would put up with this. There would be a long lineup to the Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion of­fices. Natasha needs to grow up.”

At the op­po­site end of the spec­trum, Ni­cola Quil­liam writes, “Good for the author. At least she made a buck off this and man­aged to get in a chap­ter about main­lan­ders, as well! Get over your­self and let your­self laugh at some­thing.”

To be truth­ful, much of the con­tent of Natasha’s book is funny, some very much so. As I read se­lected jokes to my wife, then she to me, we both laughed so hard, we al­most fell off our chairs.

“I think I’ll write a se­ries of joke books,” I told Sherry. “ The pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less. There could be sep­a­rate books about Blacks, Ja­panese, Jews, Pak­ista­nis, Mex­i­cans and His­pan­ics. I could make a liv­ing at this.”

Not a good idea, she said. Wise woman.

Ap­par­ently New­fie joke books con­tinue to be big, if not best, sell­ers. Ac­cord­ing to the num­ber line on the copy­right page in Natasha’s book, the edi­tion I have is the tenth print­ing since the first edi­tion was re­leased ear­lier this year.

Natasha ad­mits in her in­tro­duc­tion, “it’s … prob­a­ble that some­one, some­where, is go­ing to start the de­bate — again — about the deroga­tory na­ture of New­fie jokes.”

She has her own pe­cu­liar opin­ion on the New­fie vs. New­found­lan­der de­bate: “I know ‘New­found­lan­der’ is the cor­rect term for some­one who re­sides on the is­land of New­found­land, but I be­lieve ‘New­fie’ is a term that we born-and­breds wear with pride when we are talk­ing about our abil­ity to laugh at our­selves in the face of the rest of Canada’s un­yield­ing crit­i­cism.”

In fact, she left her Dildo home ashamed to say where she was from, but now she is proud to tell peo­ple.

She even ad­mits that the “ jokes are told to get a laugh or to put us down.”

Put us down? What’s so great about that? Is this why Black, Ja­panese, Jewish, Pak­istani, Mex­i­can and His­panic jokes are told … to put them down?

If so, is that rea­son enough to tell them? Me­thinks not.

When all is said and done, per­haps the best ar­gu­ment against eth­nic jokes is expressed by Michael Mullins: “ To make a joke about one of us is to weaken the bond that joins us. Such jokes make one of us into an ‘other.’ Jokes dis­par­age the dif­fer­ence that mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism cel­e­brates.”

In­ci­den­tally, you wanta know one of the best — or worst — New­fie jokes ever?

A book of jokes about New­found­lan­ders, writ­ten by a New­found­lan­der from Dildo who now lives in Al­berta, is pub­lished by a folk­lore pub­lisher in Al­berta.

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