A special kind of humor

Vermont may be renowned for maple syrup and skiing, but Maine lays claim to a very dry humor as well as lobsters. Maybe they’re somehow connected.

When I first moved in New Hampshire, I learned much about the region through the Humble Farmer, Robert Skogland’s weekly hour on Maine Public Radio. But his comedy act wasn’t the only one in the Pine Tree State.

Tim Sample remains the epitome, even though his time was cut unfortunately short.

Another now classic run was “Men from Maine,” a one- to two-minute comedy segment that opened with soap opera organ music and something varying along the lines of, “And now for another thrilling episode of the exciting adventures of Men from Maine. As today’s action-packed drama begins,” which aired on a morning radio show in Boston.

The episodes typically revolved around Lem and Ephus and others in backwoods Maine. While the humor was essentially redneck, it was opposed to that of the American South. Episodes ran all the way from industrial accidents handled in incompetent ways (many residents, including Lem and Ephus, worked in the local sawmill, though the canneries could be equally hazardous), to bestiality, but, as observers noted, the humor always came from the stupidity of the characters and their obliviousness.

After I’d been introduced to the men via Clackity Jane’s show on Eastport’s little FM station, I discovered how much they’re stilled treasured in these parts, maybe because they struck something true.

Laugh on, dude … and dudette.


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