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Welcome to our Humor index! This collection has been emailed to me by friends over the years.

Chances are you've seen some of these before. Out of the thousands I've saved, only a few make it here. These are my picks for "the best of the best".

Most but not all of this collection are jokes. Some are erudite, some are cute, some are so stupid they are, well, funny. We have a few narratives that claim to be true stories, and a few stories that claim to be true narratives.

Cuss words are allowed, but we like them better when they're essential to the joke ... as you'll see!

There are a few items here that are not funny, but are amazingly bizarre.

Most of all, we want to thank some wonderful friends of ours, who had the impeccably good taste to not only find and send us these jokes, but to have developed a sense of what we liked.

Humor is a funny subject. Beyond a narrow band of jokes so universally appealing that almost everybody likes them, there's a vast topical sea of specialty jokes which appeal to certain mindsets, and offend others.

For example, some of the most outrageously funny jokes I ever heard (and I remember almost all of this category) are so crass they could never, ever be told in polite company -- unless you also had an absolutely perfect sense of timing.

On the other hand, I find most of the toilet jokes of the "1,000 Dirty Party Jokes" genre so lame that they make the label "low-life" sound like effusive praise. And yet some of my best friends love them.

That's why joke collections often go flat so quickly. Beyond the "core rules", the chances are that the "mindset" to which they appeal is not present, so to speak, at the party.

An example of this receptive-audience problem is the much-circulated dirty joke about the ranch-hands or sheep herders pushing and shoving each other to be the first off the bus at their new assignments.

Depending on which version you have heard, the locale is variously a sheep ranch or a pig farm. There is always a newcomer who asks, "What's the big hurry?"

The rejoinder is always, "You wouldn't want to get an ugly one, would you?"

This is a classic "dirty joke" theme.

For twenty years I always thought it to be a gross exaggeration on the "lonely cowboy" theme, stupid, and purposelessly coarse. It's all of that.

Then, on a hunting trip in the mountains, our party encountered an individual who actually boasted about a liaison with a pig. I immediately told that stale old joke. It was the laugh of the camp for several years afterward.

Timing is everything in this business.

The difference? The joke suddenly connected with something real. We had (regrettably) met an individual who was a living caricature of the joke.

"That's nothin', mister. You should have seen last week's act. They had a feller in here with a chicken."

We won't go there, but setup and timing are everything. A good joke doesn't have to be "dirty" to get a laugh; it can be witty, topical, occupational or merely thematic. A good joke has to have the elements of surprise and recognition, but now we're getting too serious, so I'll stop here.

Here, you'll find parrot jokes, rabbi and priest jokes, historical and biblical jokes, kid jokes, office jokes, eccentric jokes, humorous anecdotes, and some just plain, really-stupid jokes. I don't think you'll find any genuine "dirty" jokes.

No matter. All jokes poke fun at the human condition.

The more seriously we start to take the small stuff, the funnier it gets when we identify the absurdity of posturing. Most joke humor derives its instantaneous punch from identifying the small, the mean, the false, the vain and the stupid.

I honestly believe that those who never see the humor in jokes have the most to hide. They are almost as dangerous as those who laugh at everything. Go figure.

We hope you enjoy this collection. Come back and browse again, because we'll be adding new material as time allows.

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