A Movie Star and a Florist Go to a Funeral…

Rorshach tests are supposed to tell us all kinds of things about our psychological condition. I find what we think is funny does a much better job.

I thought about this recently as I was reading Lauren Bacall’s first autobiography. (We’ve been watching the B&B movies, I’ve had the book on the shelf for a while, what are you gonna do?) Bogart had died, they’d just had the funeral, Bacall had told everyone to make contributions to the American Cancer Society in lieu of flowers. A large group of friends came back to her house after the funeral, and the telegrams 1 are pouring in.

She opened one from the American Florist Association, expecting another condolence. Instead she got…

Do we tell people not to go to Lauren Bacall movies?

That’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard; Bacall thought so, too. But there are is a large segment of the population that would be offended by that. (If you’re not laughing right now…)

People like Carl Sagan. Twenty-five years ago, Apple was about to release a new Mac, and the code name they gave the project was “Carl Sagan”, because they wanted to sell “billions and billions” of them. Sagan got wind of it from an article in a trade rag, and sent the magazine a stern letter. Apple changed the code name to “BHA,” for Butt-Head Astronomer. When Sagan learned that, he sued Apple. And lost. And sued them again for the original name. And lost.

It would have been easy for Bacall to be offended by that telegram. It would have been easy for Sagan to laugh at hearing the codename. That each chose the other path is a kind of personality test; we know something about the person just from those stories. (If Sagan had just sent the letter, that would be one thing. That he sued, twice, tells us a lot more.)

Everyone’s line is different. In general, I don’t find Louis C.K. funny. He can be funny, on network TV. But his stand-up routines, what little I’ve seen/read of them, are way over the (my) line. Amy Shumer, ditto.

Unlike other personality tests, I’ve found humor is an excellent one for telling how well you’re going to get along with someone. Whether you’re an ISTJ or an ESFP or a BFD doesn’t matter all that much, but the further away your humor lines are from each other, the more likely it is you’re going to want to kill each other after a few minutes in the same room.

I leave you with this scientific bit of information on how to tell the difference between an alligator and a crocodile. One you see later…


  1. Look it up kids, they’re like really, really slow printed-out tweets.

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