Newfie jokes and the bond that joins us
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.