Pope John Paul II: 25 Years Of Laughs

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Issue 3942

Nursing-Home Residents Mate In Captivity

COLBY, KS—Following six months of failed attempts under intense observation by geriatric scientists, Briarwood Nursing Home residents Horace Klass, 86, and Helen Veukmaan, 83, successfully mated in captivity Monday. "As with most new arrivals to Briarwood, Horace and Helen at first seemed despondent," Briarwood's Dr. William Stander said. "Before long, though, they grew accustomed to their new habitat, and Horace soon felt comfortable enough to approach Helen. Indeed, Horace ultimately proved quite aggressive." Briarwood employees report that, after mating, Klass provided Veukmaan with half a box of windmill cookies.

Area Man Wins Conversation

KING MILLS, OH—A friendly chat about the weather resulted in victory for Daniel Cooper Wednesday, as a brilliant and well-timed rebuttal from the 36-year-old pastry chef devastated his opponent. "Yeah, well, if this is the heaviest rain we've had in years, then I guess I hallucinated my basement flooding last July," Cooper said, deftly parrying his coworker Colin Garrison's challenge. "This rain is nothing." Wordlessly acknowledging Cooper's superiority, Garrison slinked back to the cooler, defeated.

Katie Couric Winces At Word 'Vagina'

NEW YORK—Today host Katie Couric noticeably winced at mention of the word "vagina" during an interview with National Ovarian Cancer Foundation spokeswoman Janette Pruce Monday. "I understand that it's important to raise awareness and promote early detection, which is why I was happy to have [Pruce] on the show," a flustered Couric said after the interview. "I just didn't expect her to come right out and say the 'V' word." An intern on the show said that Couric hadn't appeared that uncomfortable since walking in on one of the Dixie Chicks breastfeeding.

More Than $30 Worth Of Burned CDs Stolen From Residence

ALBUQUERQUE—Police are still not investigating a burglary at the Watson Avenue apartment of George Kinney, who reported the theft of more than 300 CDRs, with an estimated value of $32. "It looks like the bastard dropped down onto my back balcony from the neighbor's roof," Kinney said Monday. "Goddammit. I spent hours burning all those CDs." Kinney was the victim of a similar crime in June 2001, when someone broke into his YMCA locker and stole his Diet Pepsi Twist promotional duffel bag, which contained a copy of USA Today.

U.S. Upset After Aliens Land In Italy

WASHINGTON, DC—White House press secretary Scott McClellan issued a statement Monday expressing disappointment "on behalf of all Americans" that alien envoys from the planet Xygal 8B made their historic first landing in Italy, rather than in the U.S. "We are confused and saddened that the Xygalians chose to take their first steps on Tuscan soil," McClellan said. "We are hopeful that [Xygalian] Cmdr. Gorx will recognize the oversight and relocate to the U.S., which is better equipped to host an intergalactic traveler." McClellan added that the internationally televised handshake between Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Gorx "added insult to injury."

Lawyer Friend Makes Strong Case For Nachos

HARTFORD, CT—During a night out for dinner and drinks at Shooters Bar And Restaurant, probate attorney Michael Bradshaw built a strong case in re ordering nachos, Bradshaw's friends reported Tuesday.

I Would Treat The Girl From The Muffler Commercial Right

Oh my God, it's on again. There's the girl I've been telling you about—the one I always see on television. Quiet! This is my favorite part. Just look at her. Isn't she the most beautiful woman you've ever seen? Doesn't she have the nicest voice? I know this in my heart: If I had a chance, I would treat that girl from the muffler commercial right.

Ridiculous Small-Business Plan Encouraged By Friends

MISSOULA, MT—Due in large part to the encouragement of her so-called friends, 34-year-old Karen Sabin quit her steady job to make and sell homemade gourmet dog biscuits out of her home, the former hospital receptionist told reporters Monday.

Tuition Hikes

The average cost of tuition at the nation's colleges has jumped 40 percent in the past 10 years. How are students coping?

Pete's An Asshole vs. Aw, C'mon, Pete's An All-Right Guy

Look, man, I know that he's your friend and all, and I guess you've known him for a long time, so I hope you don't get too pissed off at me about this, but I think your friend Pete is a total asshole. Seriously, why you even put up with that guy is beyond me.
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Special Coverage


Local Household Announces Plans To Overdo Halloween Again

HIGHLAND PARK, IL—Having hauled over a dozen boxes of lights and plastic decorations as well as a large black-cat-shaped lawn inflatable from storage, members of the Hutchcroft family announced to neighbors from their front yard Thursday their plan to completely overdo Halloween again this year.


  • How Theaters Are Trying To Win Back Moviegoers

    The number of Americans who went to the movies hit a 20-year low in 2014, leaving theaters scrambling to find ways to incentivize the public to see new releases on the big screen rather than watch films at home or on the internet. Here are some methods theaters are using to win back audiences and increase box office sales:

Pope John Paul II: 25 Years Of Laughs

Pope John Paul II: 25 Years Of Laughs

VATICAN CITY—As Pope John Paul II enters his 26th year as pontiff, the world is stopping to reflect on the legendary funnyman's career as one of the most influential performers in modern history. Standing staunchly against contraception and women's equality right through the turn of the 21st century, the pope and his quirky, deadpan comic persona still entertain audiences around the world.

Revered by multiple generations for his weird and wonderful wit, the 83-year-old pontiff is perhaps the best-known stand-up alive today. Throughout an amazing two and a half decades as head of the Catholic Church, the pope has produced, in both his live appearances and his published works, a treasure trove of humor second to none.

"I can still remember seeing him do his classic 'Galileo' bit in the early '90s," said fellow comedian George Carlin, referring to the pope's 1992 declaration that the church erred in condemning Galileo. "Here was this man, appearing on televisions around the world, making a proclamation that the sun does not move around the earth. I laughed until tears rolled down my cheeks."

"No one could touch the pope," Carlin added. "Hell, no one even tried. He was in a class of his own. One of a kind."

Born Karol Joseph Wojtyla in Wadowice, a town 35 miles southwest of Krakow, the pope did not have an easy childhood. In what may have contributed to his desire to inspire laughter, he faced many early hardships. His mother died just a month before his 9th birthday, and only three years later, his brother died of scarlet fever. The pope began his religious career shortly thereafter, studying in an underground seminary in Krakow. He established himself in the Krakow scene and was awarded an archbishopric in 1963. He made cardinal in 1967.

Among the works to give the pope his first taste of fame was his 1960 treatise Love And Responsibility, in which he defined a "modern Catholic sexual ethic." It was here that the pope developed his oft-repeated chestnut that the only acceptable act of sex is one intended for the creation of a child.

"The pope would always lean on his material about sex," director Woody Allen said. "He had this crazy, special way of looking at the world. I definitely count him among my influences."

After years of working the smaller cathedrals, the pope's hard work paid off. On Oct. 16, 1978, he was chosen to head Rome's most venerated comedic institution, the Vatican.

"No one else is still doing what the Vatican does," comedian Don Rickles said. "They may not be as big as they once were, but they still surprise—like that bit a few weeks ago, where they said condoms don't prevent AIDS. Was that improvised?"

After 25 years at the top of his field, the pope still draws a crowd. On Oct. 19, he presided over the beatification of Mother Teresa. More than a quarter of a million people flooded St. Peter's Square to witness the stunt, in which the pope declared that the hard-working, benevolent nun had performed miracles and possessed supernatural powers.

The pope has created more saints and beatified more people than all the previous popes combined, and no other pope has toured as extensively as he has. The quintessential showman loves to take his act on the road. He's entertained audiences in 117 countries and met with hundreds of world leaders, including dictators Augusto Pinochet and Fidel Castro.

"John Paul is the hardest-working pope in history," actor Jonathan Winters said. "He's an inspiration. And not just for other comedians like myself, but for everyone, from theologians who will never be ordained because they're women, on down to the little children in the crowded ghettos of Third World cities who heed his message about the evils of contraception. Let's not even go into the gays in Boise."

Since his first trip back to Poland in 1978, the pope has performed in front of millions of loyal fans all over the world.

"People would wait in line for hours to see him," comedian Joey Bishop said. "And he never failed to deliver. He'd be out there working the crowd—shaking hands, kissing babies. Wherever he went, they loved him."

The pope has also been lauded for his ability to think on his feet. Throughout his many years in the business, the pope has often been called upon to deliver a comeback when questioned about acts committed by the Catholic Church.

"John Paul II has riffed on everything from the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition to the treatment of Jews and blacks," actor Bob Newhart said."He's always had a unique ability to come at things in an unexpected way. I saw him last year on TV, talking about those molestation scandals. His main message was that Catholics shouldn't lose faith in the clergy. Hilarious! Now, I would've gone straight to some kind of apology to the victims, but I guess that's why he's the pope."

The master of the lightning-speed one-liner produced a string of memorable side-splitters earlier this year. When meeting with the Dutch ambassador to the Vatican, he referenced the country's laws governing same-sex unions. Condemning the laws, the pope said that sexual relationships are for "men and women whose love will yield children," and characterized gays as deviants who act contrary to "natural law."

Despite suffering from debilitating Parkinson's disease, the pope shows no signs of toning down his act. With his trademark wit, the pontiff recently announced that, in spite of his failing health, he will remain pope "as long as God wants."

"There will never be another Pope John Paul II," said comedian Jerry Stiller. "He's truly one of a kind, straight out of a time and place that no longer exist."