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Growing Old Is Not for Sourpusses

July 17, 2012

It’s a foregone conclusion: Laughter is the best medicine, particularly as we grow older. In the opinion of many experts growing old becomes a little easier, less depressing and, yes, funnier when we keep our sense of humor about us.  And it’s generally agreed that we laugh best when we laugh at ourselves.

The good news is that we have a world of old age jokes to choose from when we need a good chuckle. Indeed, so many jokes about old folks crop up on the web, in books, magazines, newspapers and on late-night comedy shows that it makes you wonder if growing old isn’t the funniest thing we do in life.

The bad news is that, unlike humans, geezer jokes never die, they just get recycled. Thus, some 90 percent of jokes about “the golden age” are groaners retrieved from the past and reissued with an up-to-date twist.

For instance, twenty years ago a popular joke concerned the doctor who asks his 60-year-old patient, “When did sex stop for you?” And the patients answers, “About 3 a.m. this morning.” In today’s version, the doctor asks his 80-year-old patient, “When did sex stop for you?” And the answer is the same.

As a public service to my fellow “mature adults” I have scoured the web and my own cache of recycled jokes to produce a list of popular and palatable jokes that are easy to recast, or plagiarize.

One standard joke opens with: How do you know when you’re getting old?

Some common  responses include: You know you’re getting old when (1) happy hour is a nap (2) “getting lucky” means you stayed awake late enough to catch the Charlie Rose show (3) you begin to look like your driver’s license photo (4) you feel nostalgic but can’t remember why (5) you can’t remember being absent-minded  (6) you sing along with the elevator music (7) the porn movie you bring home is “Debbie Does Dialysis (8) your children start asking if you want to be buried, cremated or bronzed (9) you stoop to tie your shoe and can’t remember why you’re down there. (10) Your companion says, “Let’s go upstairs and make love” and you reply, “Pick one. I can’t do both.”

Jokes about sex and aging have always been good fodder for the comics among us. One perennial consists of this exchange between two elderly women in a nursing home.

Q. “Do you and your husband still have sex?”

A. “Yes.”

Q. “Do you have mutual orgasms?”

A. “No, we’re with Prudential.”

The jokes we make about the advantages of aging are even more facetious. They include: (1) your health insurance begins to kick in (2) your children begin to ignore you (3) you’re credited with virtues you never had. My favorite response in this category was voiced by a 104-year-old woman in Arvada, Colorado. When asked the advantages of aging, she replied: “Less peer pressure.”

Some “sick” jokes in our storehouse of old-age humor can be hard to take. These poke fun at our infirmaries—our diminishing eyesight and hearing or the way hip and knee replacements can accidentally open someone’s garage door or set off alarms in airport security.  Psychiatrist Alvin Poussaint once justified these by saying, “The negative aspects of growing old have to be placed in perspective for the positive aspects to emerge.”

In other words:  Life is better with laughter than without it, whatever our state of health. Or, as one old comic quipped: “Don’t let old age get you down; it’s too damned hard to get up again.”

Gwen Gibson


From → humor

  1. Great punch line at the end of this piece! In truth Gwen, knowing you a bit has helped me get past all the myths about growing older and see it for what it is–another interesting phase of life. Thank you. ox

    • Al Spivak permalink

      If there were a Pulitzer Prize for Blogs (which there isn’t) this should be nominated as the best in the category of humor (which the Pulitzer also doesn’t honor. Great work. As a prime example of the subjects of your column, I hereby shout (but not too loudly, it’s too much physical effort) my appreciation and admiration. Al Spivak

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