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October 18, 1998

Heal the Writers: The environmental group Heal the Bay reports that runoff from El Nino rains caused a marked increase in the bacteria count of many Southern California beaches. "There are reports of stomach, respiratory and skin ailments as well as an alarming dip in the quality of 'Baywatch' scripts." (Bob Mills)

Mum's the Word: The FBI kept tabs on noted "Marxist" entertainer Groucho Marx. "They tried getting Harpo to fink on him, but he wouldn't talk." (Premiere Radio)

Titanic Proportions: A federal court ordered Holland America to pay $500,000 to a whistle-blower who reported that the cruise ship company had dumped thousands of gallons of oily bilge off the Alaskan coast in 1994. "Officials say the dumping of bilge was the worst they've seen . . . well, up until UPN put 'The New Love Boat' into the water." (Mark Wheeler)

Trick-or-Treat: Independent counsel Ken Starr found himself tongue-tied when he discovered a group of demonstrators outside his home dressed as Puritans. "If the Puritans were on a witch hunt, shouldn't they have demonstrated in front of Linda Tripp's house?" (Wheeler)

You Buy, We Fry: "Customers at Boston Market restaurants may notice signs of the chain's financial turmoil, not the least of which is that they will now be encouraged to bring their own chicken." (Craig Kilborn)

Pay Through the Nose: A New York developer is offering Paula Jones $1 million to settle her suit against President Clinton because he's "sick and tired of hearing the same old stuff." "Now, if we could just get him to listen to a few Spice Girls tapes." (Jerry Perisho)

Pretty Brainy Stuff: PBS began a new season of "Masterpiece Theater" with the Royal National Theater's "King Lear." "The problem with playing Lear is that by the time you're mature and seasoned enough to play the crazy, forgetful old man, you usually are one." (Gary Easley)

On HGTV: Researchers in Oregon have found the remains of what appears to be the oldest house discovered in the U.S. "Most of the fixtures in the 9,500-year-old house were purchased at Cave Depot." (Paul Ecker)

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