Tom Purcell: Wishing you St. Patrick's Day laughter

From the commentary: In describing the 1930s Depression, humorist Will Rogers said, “If stupidity got us into this mess, then stupidity can get us out of it.” That would appear to be the strategy of the “smart” people now running our government.

Bonus editorial cartoon for March 16, 2023
Editorial cartoonist Dave Whamond draws on a leprechaun investment failure.
Dave Whamond

The St. Patrick’s Day spirit has arrived, and we sure are in need of Irish levity.

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The economy is limping, and inflation is hitting us hard. It reminds me of the laborer who fell off a roof at a construction site:

“Were you hurt by the fall?” asked his supervisor.

“The fall wasn’t so bad,” said the Irishman. “It was the sudden stop that did it.”

In describing the 1930s Depression, humorist Will Rogers said, “If stupidity got us into this mess, then stupidity can get us out of it.” That would appear to be the strategy of the “smart” people now running our government.


Rather than rein in reckless spending and address the real problems facing us all — the massive cost of health care and health insurance comes to mind — they keep spending money we don’t have.

These clever fellows remind me of the time Paddy was being tried for robbing a bank. Paddy was so surprised that the jury declared him “not guilty” that he rushed to the judge and asked, “Does that mean I get to keep the money then?!”

To be sure, our faith in our government leaders is at an all time low. We feel like we’re being conned. That reminds me of a joke my dog, Thurber, likes to tell (see him tell jokes at

“Why did the Labrador steal the leprechaun’s pot of gold? Because he was a Labra-CON!” (Get it? Lepre-CON? Ah, never mind!)

It would be grand if our government leaders managed our money more frugally, the way one Irish widow manages hers:

When her husband died, she called the newspaper to place his obituary. The newsman said the cost was $1 a word.

“I only have $2,” she said. “Just print ‘Paddy died.’”

The newsman, feeling sorry for the woman, gave her three extra words at no charge.


“A kind man you are,” Mrs. Paddy said. “Print me husband’s obituary this way: “Paddy died. Boat for sale.’”

To address Social Security and Medicare shortfalls, President Biden simply wants to lift the ceiling on Social Security and Medicare taxes, which would amount to massive tax increases for higher-income earners, which will shift much-needed capital away from the markets and into government coffers.

Taxes are going to have to go up eventually to pay off our massive debts. Onerous taxation will turn otherwise good citizens into tax cheats, which reminds me of the time an IRS auditor called Father O’ Malley:

“Father, do you know a Mickey O’Brien?” asked the auditor.

“Aye,” said Father O’Malley. “He’s one of ‘me’ parishioners.”

“Did he donate $10,000 to your church?”

“He will,” said Father O’Malley.

British academic and joke theorist Christy Davies says a good joke can help clarify and express complex feelings. A good joke can cut to the heart of the matter better than any speech or law or government policy.


The Irish have mastered this concept of humor. These days, with all the conflict and disagreement going on, we could all profit from a better sense of humor.

Which reminds me of the time Pat explained to Mike why his valiant effort to scale Mt. Everest fell short.

“Aye,” said Pat, “I nearly made it to the top, but then I ran out of scaffolding.”

I wish you hearty laughter this St. Patrick’s Day. Thurber tells this joke at, which makes me laugh out loud:

“Knock, knock!”

“Who’s there?”


“Irish who?”


“Irish you a happy St. Patrick’s Day!”

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Tom Purcell, creator of the infotainment site, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist.
This commentary is the columnist's opinion. Send feedback to:


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