Jokes From the Max Burbank Joke Book

Here’s something you might not know about me. I worked ‘in comedy’ professionally for several years after graduating college. It’s true! People paid cash money to witness the funniness that you all get for free. Lucky, lucky you. Unfortunate, unfortunate me. When people learn of my former life in the comedy field, they often ask me to ‘say something funny’. My pat response is that ‘I was never that kind of comedian’, a line I find quite hilarious which surprisingly is most often met with bewilderment. Sometimes, though, instead of asking me to be funny they tell me how much they wish they were funny.

Being funny all the time can be darn hard work. Not everyone is born with the gifts of humor I was, and yes, I am talking to you.

With that in mind, I’ve assembled a few old traditionals I’m no longer using or more likely stole from someone else in the first place that you can feel free to commit to memory and foist off on unsuspecting friends as your own bon mots.


A gentleman walks into a bar, takes out a small black box and from it removes a miniature piano, perfect in all detail. He then turns the box on it’s side and out walks a man no taller than a ruler in a perfect black tuxedo who sits at the miniature piano and begins to play Beethoven’s Fifth symphony with a fair amount of skill. The bartender, understandably surprised at such a miraculous turn of events, asks the customer where in the world he acquired a twelve inch pianist. Cocking his head at a sly angle and turning away, the customer begins to soundlessly weep, this behavior escalating until his body is wracked with silent sobbing. Alarmed, the bartender comes out from behind his bar and is horrified to discover that the customer has gouged out his own eyes, blinding himself. While the bartender is distracted, the tiny pianist climbs atop his miniature piano and shouts: “With the prices you charge for drinks, you’re unlikely to EVER get a visit from a man with a talking dog!”


Two discreet confirmed bachelors of old acquaintance are enjoying a stroll through the Boston Public Gardens. The first turns to his partner and says, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride!” to which his partner replies, “If my Aunt had a Penis, my insurance would hardly begin to cover the amount of mental health visits per month I’d require!” Several months later, both gentlemen will be surprised to find that the adjustable rate mortgage on their condominium has risen beyond their ability to keep pace with the monthly payments.


Knock, knock.

Who’s there?


Angina who?

I’ll be damned if I’ll stand out here any longer, my dignity has already been damaged enough by sleeping with you in the first place, I certainly won’t add insult to injury by being a party to your inane hallway games!


Instruct your audience that whatever you say to them, they must chant back in unison “RUBBER BALLS AND LIQUOR!” Then ask: “What are your two favorite toys?”, to which they will respond: “RUBBER BALLS AND LIQUOR!” Ask” “What does the Pope hide under his hat?” Response: “RUBBER BALLS AND LIQUOR!” Ask: “What did your Grandfather request on his deathbed?” Response: “RUBBER BALLS AND LIQUOR!” Ask: “What does the physician prescribe for gout?” Response: “RUBBER BALLS AND LIQUOR!” Ask: “What are the secret ingredients in a Zagnut bar?” Response: “RUBBER BALLS AND LIQUOR!” Ask: “When, when will the lord God almighty see fit to end the pointless misery of my wretched, solitary existence, what does He get from torturing me day after relentless day until I am forced to my bloody, torn knees in abject humiliation and despair, is there not one among you, not one, with the simple human decency to take up a sledge hammer and dash the brains from my tormented skull?” Should any audience member be brave enough to even whisper “Rubber Balls and Liquor”, hurl yourself at their feet weeping inconsolably.


Several years ago while driving through the countryside, I chanced to stop at a farm stand. When I found no proprietor to pay for the dozen ears of corn I desired to purchase, I had a look around and soon found a farmer seated on a barrel. Seated across from him was an old hound dog and between them on a stump was a checkerboard with a game in progress. Eventually, the dog reached out a paw and moved one of his pieces. “Good lord!” I said, “Your Dog is a genius!” The farmer cast a laconic eye my way and said, “Not really. You see, her move allows me to jump her piece into the final row, a predictable mistake she makes with appalling regularity. I know this because the Dog and I are married. We play checkers not for joy, but because after so many years it is all we have left. What love once was between us, if that’s what it truly was, faded away long ago. No children comfort us in our old age, which hardly comes as a surprise, but still, it’s sad. We look back on our choices and wonder who it was made them? Who was that man? Who was that dog? Our remembered selves are strangers to us now, and all we have is checkers on a summer’s afternoon. Is that what you call genius? It’s life I suppose and will have to do. King me, Alice.”


A Priest, a Rabi and a Leprechaun arrive at the Pearly Gates at the exact same moment. “Why is St. Peter not here to greet us?” the Priest asks. “Hah!” says the Rabi, “The Pearly gates and no St. Peter! That proves you were wrong and I was right all along!” “Yer both of ye’ wrong!” The Leprechaun pipes up, but before he can finish his thought, the gates swing open and all three are confronted by a God so outside their ability to comprehend that they are immediately driven mad for all eternity, unable to process in any way that this is not Heaven or even Hell for that matter, but a vast, cruel cosmology from which each soul exits briefly into life once only, ill equipped to glimpse even the slightest meaning in the instant before being plunged once more into chaos.


Q: What do you get when you combine a Dog with a Hatrack?

A: First class results!


Tell your audience you possess psychic powers and ask if anyone would like their palm read. When a volunteer comes forward, grasp their wrist quite firmly and lay their hand palm upright upon the stool almost always found next to the microphone stand in better comedy venues. Then begin to smash away at the hand with a hammer, never letting go of your volunteers wrist, until they fully understand just how badly it hurts to have all the bones in your hand reduced to bone shards wrapped in human jelly. Should any wag in attendance be bold enough to note that your volunteer’s hand is now certainly ‘red’, stare at them blankly for a moment and then shout, “Oh! Oh, sure, I get it!”


Q: What is the difference between your prom date and a day old chocolate donut?



If someone heckles you, try this; Allow yourself to look a little nervous, but begin to respond with some tried and true heckler response device along the lines of “Please, sir, it’s not like I come to your place of employment and knock the burger off your spatula”, but before you can even finish, dissolve into a coughing jag. Hold a hand up letting the audience know you are alright, pull yourself together and then begin coughing again. Now using a clever mechanical device you have hidden on your person for just this purpose, expel a stream of fake bile and collapse on the floor. Begin violently shaking as if you are having some sort of fit. Paramedics will be summoned, but don’t give away the ruse! Allow them to place you on a gurney and remove you to their ambulance. When you arrive at the hospital, tell the doctors you are beginning to feel better. After about a half hour tell them that whatever happened to you, it’s past. They may keep you overnight for observation, or discharge you with instructions to consult your physician. Legally change your name. Shave your head. Undergo costly plastic surgery. Vanish forever without a trace.


This next bit requires a monkey, which is a lot harder to get a hold of than you might think, so screw it.


Tell your audience that your knees have distinct personalities. Furthermore inform them the left knee is named ‘Klaus’ and the right knee is “Doris’ and that Doris and Klaus have been married for twenty-four years, that in fact tonight is their twenty-fourth anniversary. When your audience responds with incredulity as surely they will, invite a member up on stage to examine your knees and see the proof for themselves! As soon as they make even the slightest movement toward your knees, shriek “WHAT ARE YOU, SOME SORT OF MORON? HOW COULD TWO KNEES POSSIBLY BE MARRIED? HOW WOULD THAT WORK EXACTLY? THERE CAN BE NO EXPLANATION FOR YOUR RUBEISHNESS UNLESS YOU ARE DUTCH! IS THAT WHAT YOU ARE? SOME KIND OF IMBECILIC DUTCHMAN?!”


Thank your audience profusely, telling them they are without any doubt the finest audience you have ever performed in front of, that the informed joy they have taken in your performance has made this night a career highlight, and that as thanks, before you leave, you intend to bestow upon them the meaning of life. Pause, gazing fondly at them. Spread your arms wide and say “Always remember…” Pause again, holding the moment, cherishing it. Slowly allow a hint of doubt to shadow your features. Spin that doubt like a fine thread, allow your expression to slowly sour and say “No, maybe it’s best I don’t… don’t…”. Cast your gaze down. Lower your arms. Allow your shoulders to slump. Tell them that they are not the first audience you have called ‘the finest audience you have ever performed in front of’, that in fact you close most shows this way, that the truth is they are at best an average audience, indistinguishable from the vast human herd you have performed in front of for many years now, tell them it would give you the greatest pleasure to tell them they’d been a bad audience, that they understood nothing you’d told them, because at least if that were true this night would stand out from all the rest, but it doesn’t, it doesn’t, in the end it’s all just the same. Back slowly offstage. Looking up at them only in the instant the darkness swallows you. Retreat to the parking lot and aggressively panhandle your audience as they leave.


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