So, the Brits have a reputation for a dark sense of humour. British soldiers have a reputation for an even darker sense of humour. Jewish humour is even darker. Two case studies follow.
Victor, an ex-22-year man (he served 22 years in the British Army, reaching the heights of sergeant) learnt many trades as a soldier, including:
- How to kill (“This is my rifle… there are many others like it, but this one is unique…”)
- How to keep prisoners in HMP Maze and Grenztruppen der DDR awake in the wee small hours by playing AC/DC at full blast down a tannoy system or on a loudspeaker placed in the back of a Landrover
- Gaining an HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) Licence (for my Teutonic friends: LKW)
A typical ex-Army job is lorry driver (or security guard or school caretaker or prison officer). Victor left the Army to become a lorry driver.
OK, so that’s the scene set.
Imagine now, a hitch-hiker one lovely sunny day, on a motorway somewhere in England. He’s holding a piece of cardboard with his destination written on it in black marker pen, followed by the word “PLEASE”. Victor stops his lorry and offers our student a lift to destination.
Small talk time.
Ahhhhhhhh, isn’t the English countryside beautiful at this time of the year?
Isn’t it just! Mind you, I haven’t seen the English countryside for thirteen years…
Oh really? Have you been living abroad?
No. I was in prison. I served thirteen years. For murder.
Ten seconds of stony silence (while Victor stifles a smirk).
Everything ok, young man?
Student swallows hard, his face as white as snow:
Er, could you let me off at the next service station, please? I’m desperate to go to the toilet.
Sorry, no can do, son. I’m running late. I can’t stop till York in another from now.
Student (now in jelly-like state):
Please, please, please, please, please, let me off at the next service station. I’m begging you!
No problem. Was it something I said?
Twenty minutes later, out of the cab jumps one student, running into the nearest service station. Victor drives off, a smirk on his face. Both he and student have a great story to tell their mates down the pub that evening. “You’ll never guess what…”
2. A bunch of Army recruits at Pirbright barracks. WO2 (warrant Offcer Second Class: Spiess) W. is giving an NBC lesson to a bunch of unhappy looking recruits. (NBC: nuclear, biological, chemical.)
OK, folks, you’re about to go into the gas chamber. Now, in case you are feeling scared, think about me. I’m Jewish. Say ‘gas chamber’ to me, and I need a new pair of underpants.
Jaws drop. Not just dark humour, but military humour combined with Jewish humour. Very, very black humour. Long may it exist.