Charles Dickens, in a Preface to The Christmas Carol

“I have endeavored in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly.......” Charles Dickens, in a Preface to A Christmas Carol

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hal Roach, Irish Humor, and Department 56

Dept. 56, Christmas in the City,
"A Little Irish Jig," #4025247

When Irish eyes are smiling
Sure, 'tis like the morn in Spring.
In the lilt of Irish laughter
You can hear the angels sing.
When Irish hearts are happy,
All the world seems bright and gay,
And when Irish eyes are smiling, 
Sure, they steal your heart away.

Irish comedian Hal Roach

And yet, on Feb. 28 of this year, Irish eyes were not smiling.  Indeed, they were welling up at the loss of Hal Roach himself.  One of Ireland's prominent comedians, Hal Roach spent over 60 years in show business, 28 of it at Jury's Irish Cabaret in Dublin.  Hal Roach made a living making people laugh.  But he didn't have to be mean or ill-spirited.  He relied on simple stories, impeccable timing, an understanding of our inherent foibles, and a love of ordinary people.   For some years Hal Roach was my driving companion, mile after mile, as I fed disc after disc into the player, chuckling aloud time after time, in an otherwise empty car.  As USA Today reported, "Nearly two hours of humor and not one off-color joke.  What a blessing."

To honor Hal Roach and all Irish everywhere,  I am going to tell you some of his jokes, and garnish them with some wonderful Department 56 pieces from Dickens' Village, Snow Village, North Pole, and Christmas in the City.  At the end of this blog are some links to YouTube where you can see Hal Roach himself in action.

Dept. 56, Christmas in the City,
"St. Mary's Church," # 799996

Father O'Shea is the priest in a little village in County cork.  Last week he phoned the Pope in Rome and and said "I don't know how to tell you this, but the good Lord Jesus himself is walking down the street of our village.  I don't know what to do."  And the Pope said to Father O'Shea, "Look busy!"

Dept. 56, Dickens' Village,
"Pub Patrons," #4020192

They opened a little cabaret bar in County Donegal last year.  They tried to make it like a miniature Las Vegas.  All the disco lights flashing on and off.   All the lovely decor.  But the most unique feature of the bar was that, from ceiling to floor, mirrors went all around the pub.  Casey and Flanigan had been there all evening celebrating with a good few pints. Casey looked across the pub, forgetting the walls were mirrored, and did a double take. He turned to Flanigan and said, "Flanigan, you're not going to believe this, but there's a fellow sitting over at that table that looks just like you."  Flanigan said, "You're right! And the fellow sitting with him looks just like you."  So Casey stands up and says, "Come on, we'll go over and buy them a drink."  And Flanigan said, "Sit down! I think they're coming over here."

Dept. 56, Dickens Village,
"The Hoops," #4020181
This fellow Murphy in County Kerry won 60,000 pounds on the Irish sweepstakes and went to visit his brother in Boston.  On the way home the pilot of his plane made an announcement, "There is an emergency on board and we may have to ditch the plane into the sea. Say a little prayer that we get down safely."  So Murphy is thinking, "Oh, my God, I've just won 60,000 pounds and I'll be stone dead before I can spend it."  So he got down on his knees and prayed, "Lord, if you save me, I will give half of my fortune to you and the church."  Well, the plane landed safely, and as Murphy was getting off, a priest came up behind him and said, "I couldn't help overhearing what you said, that if the plane got down safely you would give half of your fortune to the Lord and his church.  I suppose you would like to start right away." "No, Father,"  said Murphy, "After the plane landed I made a better deal with God.  I told him if I ever went up in a plane again, he could have it all!"

Dept. 56, "North Pole,
"McElfin's Irish Restaurant and Gifts," #56755

The children were in a history lesson.  The teacher asked a little boy, "Where was Anne Boleyn beheaded?"   The little boy answered, "Below the chin."

Dept. 56, North Pole,
"An Irish Cheer for Santa," #56848

A little lad came to his father.  "Daddy, is it true that we come from dust, and to dust we shall return?" asked a little boy.  His father said, "Yes, 'tis true.  Why do you ask?"  And the kid said, "Well, you better look under my bed.  There's somebody there either coming or going!"

Dept. 56, Christmas in the City,
"St. Mary's Church," #799996

When the Bishop is confirming the boys and girls, it is traditional for him to ask them questions about religion.  So the Bishop said to the boy, "What is the definition of the blessed Trinity?"  And the boy said, "One in three, and three in one."  And the Bishop said, "I don't understand."  And the boy said, "You're not supposed to understand.  It's a mystery."

Dept. 56, Snow Village,
"School Children," #51187

 The teacher was giving a class on drawing, and said, "I want you to draw for me a picture of the flight into Egypt."  And this little girl drew three people and a black spot.  The teacher said, "Who are the three people in the picture?"  And the child said, "That's Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus."  The teacher said, "Nice.  What's the black spot?"  The little girl said, "That's a flea."  The teacher said, "A flea?  What's a flea got to do with it?" And the little girl said, "The angel said to Joseph, 'Take Mary and the baby and flee into Egypt.'"

Dept. 56, Dickens' Village,
"Potts Pub," #4020182

Part of Hal Roach's attraction was his own self delight in the nature of the Irish humor he delivered.  At the end of many a good line, he would add,  "Oh, dear God, write it down.  It's a good one!"  Your life, Hal.... it was a good one, too. 

To see Hal Roach himself in action, click on these links:

1 comment:

ascencion rana said...

Halloween is just a couple months away. Now is the time to get started on your village so I have time to enjoy it.

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