In his comment to 20/20 BEHINDSIGHT (my May 20 post which contained a look back at TWENTY QUESTIONS), long-time blog buddy Don Frankel mentioned WHAT’S MY LINE? (another old TV game show). It so happens that one of the regulars on that show, humor writer and publisher (co-founder of RANDOM HOUSE) Bennett Cerf had chosen the 25th of May (1898) to be born; thus, today I honor his birthday by posting a selection of favorite Cerf puns and quotes (and high time I returned the favor, considering that lo, some twenty-plus years ago, RANDOM HOUSE published several of my poems in THE RANDOM HOUSE TREASURY OF LIGHT VERSE).

But first, let’s take a look back at one of the WHAT’S MY LINE? programs from the same year as the TWENTY QUESTIONS clip shown in my previous post:

There is little question, I think you’ll agree, that WHAT’S MY LINE? was a step up in class compared to TWENTY QUESTIONS…..so it’s time to hit the Cerf (as beach bums refer to the swells) and ride the wave….to wit:

Gross ignorance is 144 times worse than ordinary ignorance.

The confused young man couldn’t decide whether to marry Kathryn or Edith. Try as he might, he just could not make up his mind. Unwilling to give up either, he strung them along far too long. This indecision continued until both women tired of the situation and left him for good. Moral of the story: You can’t have your Kate and Edith too.

Then there was the young female comic who was promised good roles in a hit TV show. All she had to do was divide her favors between the star and the producer. But it was just a sham; she never got any air time at all. You might even say she was….shared skit less.

There once was a student named Bessor
Whose knowledge grew lesser and lesser.
It at last grew so small
He knew nothing at all
And today he’s a college professor.

The Detroit String Quartet played Brahms last night. Brahms lost.

I shouldn’t be surprised  — it was four against one.

And on that note, I bid thee a fond fare well.





20 comments on “CERF’S UP

  1. Ricardo says:

    Substantial puniness, Sr. Muse. Substantial.

    Liked by 2 people

    • mistermuse says:

      Gracias, Ricardo. At first I thought you might be accusing me of substantial puniness in the sense of weakness, but being both puny and substantial would be an oxymoron, which also sounds rather unflattering. So, knowing you’re too much of a gentlemen to be doubly insulting, I graciously re-gracias you.


  2. calmkate says:

    put a smile on my dial … a published poet and I didn’t know it! Had anymore published since?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Don Frankel says:

    Glad to be of some assist Muse. I’m struck by the level of discourse here. This is a far cry from the Kardhasians.

    I think the Mick blew it as soon as he said. “Yep.” To the first question. Not just the Oklahoma accent but he had a very distinct voice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse says:

      Don, from what I hear, just about anything is a far cry from the Kardashians. But I agree that Mick could’ve done a much better job of disguising his voice and saying something other than “Yep.” BTW, I was glad to see Steve Allen on the panel — he was one of the shining lights in the ‘dark ages’ of early TV.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Very entertaining. Thanks for the laughs. Kate and Edith was hysterical, but the one I’m going to remember is gross ignorance. Ha ha. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse says:

      Thank you. In the interest of maintaining a peaceful relationship with another commenter (above), I agree with only Edith being hysterical. Kate is as calm as a clam (at least, I think clams are calm, though I suppose they have bad days just like anyone else).

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Mark Scheel says:


    Well, that takes me back. I remember old Bennett and his wit. And, hey, congrats on getting into that anthology! A most pleasing accomplishment.

    Have a pleasant Memorial Day weekend.


    Liked by 1 person

  6. RMW says:

    Remember watching What’s My Line as a kid in England… loved it…. coming to the US I was surprised to learn it was an American invention!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. literaryeyes says:

    I like the Brahms one. There’s been many variations on it, but it’s good to know the original – and Cerf was an original.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. barkhabale says:

    Beautifully written

    Liked by 1 person

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