Wednesday, January 23, 2008


We Mormons are not a very funny lot. I guess I should clarify that a little bit. If you take a few steps back, we're hilarious. Our guilt burden places us somewhere between the Jews and the Catholics, but God won't let us drink to take the edge off. Then there's the peril of the single Mormon, especially the ones in their 20s and 30s.

The Mormon faith asks a lot of its young people. That whole "no sex before marriage" thing can be a major drag. A lot of Mormons get married in their late teens and early 20s, and it's not hard to see why. And the hearty souls that remain can become seething wads of sexual tension. There are people out there who believe homosexuality is an unnatural sexual practice. The reasoning being that it's doing something with the body for which it was not intended. Let me tell you, celibacy in your 20s is a far more unnatural sexual practice (or non-practice, as the case may be). The body is not designed to do that... trust me.

But I'm getting off on a tangent here. The point is that Mormons are quite funny, as in odd. But we don't have the best sense of humor. Jokes about the Mormon experience are not always greeted well within the community. Mormon taste in humor tends towards the cornball, "Donny & Marie" variety.

So you can imagine my delight when I was listening to This American Life this week and I heard a story about a woman working at a toy store in New York. The story was a funny yet poignant recounting of what happened when the store ran out of white babies before Christmas. I won't say anything more about it except you should listen to the whole thing yourself. (That mp3 will likely be up for only about a week or so, so don't drag your heels.)

At the end of the story, Ira Glass noted that the author had written a memoir called "The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance." A title like that can only have come from one of my people. A short Internet investigation found that Elna Baker is, indeed, Mormon. And the video clip on her MySpace page revealed that she is also very funny.

Below is some video of a show she did where she tells the story of the fateful Halloween dance from which the title of her memoirs apparently comes. It restores my faith that we Mormons may yet find a way to laugh at ourselves. After all, it's worked well for the Jews.

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At 12:31 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find this woman extremely appealing! Is this wrong? She is entirely lovely.

At 12:41 am, Blogger Workman said...

No, I think you're right. She does appear to be quite a lovely woman. Entirely lovely.

At 11:28 am, Blogger Ellen said...

Lovely, and hilarious. Thanks for sharing. So glad to have found her. The TAL story is awesome.

At 8:44 am, Blogger Reluctant Kerry said...

Allow me to go on record with my objection to the implication that Mormonism and humor tend to be mutually exclusive.

At 11:25 am, Blogger Workman said...

It's not so much that they're mutually exclusive, but humor isn't celebrated in Mormon culture in the same way it is within Jewish culture.


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