So, England’s playing Poland in some sort of soccer game or melee or match or tilt or pitched battle or contretemps or whatever they call it over there. At half time, if that’s what they call that, the coach reportedly told his players a joke, which appears to have offended the usual people who like to be offended. It’s reported in the Mirror, and The Guardian, and on ESPN, and in The Daily Mail, and The Telegraph, and in USA Today. It’s featured on many websites and bulletin boards as well. It’s everywhere.
I don’t know if Roy Hodgson, the the coach of the English national football team, actually used the joke I wrote on April 25th of 2012 verbatim. This blog seems like an obscure place to find something unless you’re already looking for it. But I do know that every one of those newspapers I mentioned copied it directly from my Sippican Cottage blogpost, and not one of them offered any attribution, or a link. Here’s the text from my blog entry titled Feed The Monkey:
I recall a very bad joke from way back when we were still hurling men up into space, but hadn’t quite reached the moon yet:
NASA decided they’d finally send a man up in a capsule after sending
only monkeys in the earlier missions. They fire the man and the monkey
into space. The intercom crackled, “Monkey, fire the retros.” A little
later, “Monkey, check the solid fuel supply.” Later still, “Monkey,
check the life support systems for the man.” The astronaut took umbrage
and radioed NASA, ” When do I get to do something?” NASA replies, ” In
fifteen minutes, feed the monkey.”
Like most things I write on this blog, I wrote that right out of my head. I referred to nothing. The joke in its original form was told to me forty years ago or more. I remembered only the gist of it. In fact, as I remember it, it wasn’t as even as good a joke as I wrote it. But the wording of that joke is most assuredly mine own. And another “tell” in the use of that joke, unattributed, is that they didn’t call it NASA when they were shooting monkeys into space. Eisenhower organized NASA in 1958. I used the term NASA there because nobody remembers the space program’s name before then and it was just easier. Poetic license. The joke itself is one of those tiresome things that everyone knows, but has to sit through over and over no matter how many times they hear it, and it only elicits groans, not laughter. A duck walks into a pharmacy and says, give me some Chap-Stick and put it on my bill.
Oops, I forgot, if my stuff is going to be copypasta in Merrie Olde, it’s a mallard toddles off to the chemist…
So The Telegraph says this is the joke:
“Nasa decided they’d finally send a man up in a capsule after sending only
monkeys in the earlier missions,” the joke goes.
“They fire the man and the monkey into space. The intercom crackles, ‘Monkey,
fire the retros’. A little later, ‘Monkey, check the solid fuel supply’.
“Later still, ‘Monkey, check the life support systems for the man’. The
astronaut takes umbrage and radios Nasa, ‘When do I get to do something?’
“Nasa replies, ‘In 15 minutes – feed the monkey’.”
“NASA decided they’d finally send a man up in a capsule after sending only monkeys in the earlier missions,” the joke goes.
“They fire the man and the monkey into space.
“The intercom crackles, ‘Monkey, fire the retros.’
“A little later, ‘Monkey, check the solid fuel supply.’
“Later still, “Monkey, check the life support systems for the man.’
“The astronaut takes umbrage and radioes NASA, ‘When do I get to do something?’
“NASA replies, ‘In 15 minutes – feed the monkey.’”
Please note that the only editing they do, is to make what I wrote grammatically incorrect. They change NASA to Nasa, which is not how acronymns work, and turn “took umbrage” into “takes umbrage.” I decline very few verbs and no free drinks these days, but even I know it was correct in the first place. There’s about fifteen other news outlets I found, before I got bored, that use the whole thing copied and pasted, but attribute it to The Mirror, or The Telegraph, or The Guardian, because there’s honor among thieves, but not outside their coven, it appears. Others paraphrase the joke and use only the punchline verbatim.
If you enter the whole text into Google, it only returns two references, both to me, and a website in Great Britain called Orphans of Liberty, who printed the joke verbatim back when I wrote it, but gave me a link and attribution, so good on them, and hail fellow well met and all that.
Hey, maybe Roy Hodgson reads Orphans of Liberty, and he did tell my version of the joke verbatim to his team. I’d be tickled if that were the case. If so, Roy, you’re welcome to it. Sorry it wrecked your life, and you probably didn’t even get a laugh out of it for all your trouble. I warned everybody before I told it that it was a bad joke. But does anyone listen?
To the rest of you ink-stained plagiarists: Expect to hear from my lawyer, um, solicitor, er, barrister or bannister or beelzebub or bumbershoot or whatever you call a law-talking guy over there on that pile of rocks and coal you inhabit. To paraphrase Stanley Motss, ” I want the credit.”