Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- To: Administrators, the National Medal of Science

Re: My submission for your consideration

It is rare that this prestigious prize is awarded in the field of sociology. As a forensic sociologist, I am hoping you will review my findings below and act appropriately.

I believe I have identified a new language -- more specifically, a...Read more

Cat me if you can

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Editor's note: This is the sixth cat-related column Gene has written in 2017. As a service to our readers, he will be docked $7,000 in pay for each subsequent one.

"Herding cats" may be the most common term to describe an exasperating, nearly impossible job. I found a better one: "Herding cat."

Late in October, my daughter...Read more


Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Wasn't it great when a disgruntled Twitter contractor, in what was presumably his or her final act on the job, deleted Donald Trump's account? Many people looked back with gratitude at the blessed 11 minutes of silence that ensued before the sedition was discovered and reversed. Me, I found myself looking ahead: What other ...Read more

Not a stand-up guy

Humor / Below the Beltway /

This column is adapted from Gene's Nov. 14 online chat introduction.

WASHINGTON -- This column is about humor. But it is not funny.

If you read about Louis C.K.'s actions, and if you understand and care about standup comedy, you might well be aghast. What he said and did was particularly manipulative, and particularly insidious.

...Read more

How now ground cow

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Imagine a footprint in the snow left by a mosquito. That's roughly the size of the carbon footprint left on Earth by my friend Bruce Friedrich. Because he hates to burn hydrocarbons, Bruce bikes nearly everywhere -- 10 miles is a short hop for him. His shoes, his wallet, and everything else of his that could be leather, isn't. He ...Read more

Blowing the lid off

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I am on the phone with Tom Herbort of Franklin, North Carolina.

Me: When my 10-pound cat somehow managed to knock the 10-pound porcelain lid off the toilet tank in my bathroom, and it shattered, I figured this sort of thing would be something that happened so infrequently I'd have to replace the whole tank, or, as my landlady ...Read more

Getting something off my chest

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Columnists -- particularly humor columnists -- are desperate folk. Under the constant tyranny of deadlines, frantically hunting for something to write about, they will shamelessly mine their own lives -- anything to find 700 words. To get a cheap laugh, the most pathetic of them will readily forfeit their privacy and their dignity....Read more

Don't use your words

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Nothing can kill it. It has outlasted maniacs with machine guns. It has withstood the fury of hurricanes and earthquakes. It has even endured withering satire -- public ridicule of the sort that costs government officials their jobs -- and each time it has come back in full force, unbowed and unashamed.

I am talking about "...Read more

Gene's true calling

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Today is the newest installment of my Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the plight of the beleaguered customer service representative.

S.O.S steel wool pads

Me: Do I need to clean off the food scraps from a used S.O.S pad before my dog eats it?

Ingrid: Yes, be sure to rinse it well.

Me: Good. I see it as a good source ...Read more

'Can' do politics

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I may have a solution to most of America's political problems. I found it on a can of sardines.

I was searching the label for a phone number to reach a customer service representative. In my experience, these numbers are usually hard to find, tucked away near the agate listing of ingredients, wedged in near the really boring ones ...Read more

Rhyme and punishment

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Good news. It is time for more "pokes" / which are poems retelling old jokes.

Stan and the Rabbi, retold as a Shakespearean sonnet

Oh rabbi, Stan is here with troubling news:

"My son, to whom I've taught the Jewish ways,

Just said to me that he has Christian views

And Christian will he be for all his days!"

"It's funny...Read more

Naming rites

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- As you may remember from my rants in previous columns, I don't approve of baby-naming as a creative art form. We are in the middle of an epidemic of preciousness, and there are no signs that it is abating. In 2016, more Americans named their sons "Camden" than "George." More chose "Maverick" than "Eric." "Messiah" was more popular ...Read more

Pet pees

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I'm not one of those columnists who are always taking wildly provocative positions just to attract attention. So please don't question my sincerity when I write today in support of the lady in Washington, D.C., who threw a cup of pee onto a bus driver.

Now, hear me out. I respect bus drivers and acknowledge that pee-flinging ...Read more

Ready, aim ... you're fired!

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I vowed not to write about Donald Trump this week. I'd done it two weeks in a row, and I knew three would be too much. The man is a succubus. He sucks all the oxygen out of the room, and then the nitrogen, and then the argon and carbon dioxide and water vapor and all other incidental components of air, leaving an outer-space-like ...Read more

Comic con

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Some people are calling it the "Trump Badministration." Others -- and I am one -- have suggested this is "The Snidely Whiplash Administration," considering the collection of just-plain-wicked things it has already done: enabling the dumping of mining waste into rivers and streams; lifting legal protections for the elderly in ...Read more

The Gospel According to Donald

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Did you see the widespread news reports that President Trump likes to get a "propaganda document" twice a day filled with nice stuff about himself? Supposedly, it is material that aides have culled that makes him look good. Sometimes it is a chyron screenshot with a line he would like. Sometimes it is a positive news story. ...Read more

Less is more

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- These are difficult times. We often find ourselves facing hard choices between unappealing alternatives: A flawed Obamacare or no Obamacare? Stick with Trump or shift to Pence? It is time to think positively about it all, and find some solace in the concept of choosing the lesser of two evils. To wit:

Eyelid twitch vs. ...Read more

Scoffing at Dangerfield: It's what he would have wanted

Humor / Below the Beltway /

This column originally ran in 2004.

WASHINGTON -- I have long kept in my sock drawer a mini-cassette recording of 20 of the weirdest minutes of my life. It was a phone conversation with Rodney Dangerfield. I promised myself I'd write about it after Rodney died, as a way of, you know, not paying my respects.

The Washington Post's Style ...Read more


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