Have a little Jack Handey to brighten your day

Does the name Jack Handey ring a bell?

‘Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.’

That is one of my favourite deep thoughts by Jack Handey. Of which there are many (stick his name into Google if you want to be amused for a good hour or more).

At the end of what has been a really difficult day for me (for a number of silly reasons, many of them social media fighty fighty related) it does my soul good to have a bit of a pretend LOL (because who actually laughs out loud when they type LOL?) as well as a real one. And Jack Handey does not disappoint.

Jack Handey used to provide these so-called ‘Deep Thoughts’ for the much-loved and hated American comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live (SNL), often being a highlight of the show.

What I enjoy about them most – the best ones at least – is that most of them tap into one of my favourite elements of good comedy – misdirection.

A good Jack Handey thought starts you heading  in one way and then surprises you with a twist which often provides the comedy. Like another one of my favourites – Uncle Caveman:

When I was a kid my favorite relative was Uncle Caveman. After school we’d all go play in his cave, and every once in a while he would eat one of us. It wasn’t until later that I found out that Uncle Caveman was a bear.


Beyond just misdirection, there is the random factor which many of them have. I love the idea of messing around with language and words and so this particular thought combines random and misdirection and somehow along the way just becomes incredibly funny:

Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself: “Mankind.” Basically, it’s made up of two separate words, mank and ind. What do these words mean? It’s a mystery, and that’s why so is mankind.

Some other ‘deep thoughts’ he composed were great because on the one hand they seem unashamedly philosophical, but then if you think about them for a bit longer, you actually start to see the truth in them:

It takes a big man to cry, but it takes a bigger man to laugh at that man.

So it’s funny, yes, but wait, there is also an element of the truth behind the statement that helps bring the humour.

Some of the most fun Jack Handey’s for me are the ones where he goes a little dark and edgy to bring the humour home, like in these next two:

To me, clowns aren’t funny. In fact, they’re kind of scary. I’ve wondered where this started and I think it goes back to the time I went to the circus, and a clown killed my dad.

Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis.

There is a moment of, “Wait, can I actually be laughing at this?” but then the premise is so absurd, that you convince yourself that you can. Again, the first one uses such great misdirection because it appears to be going in one direction but you really don’t see the punchline coming.


A few years ago, I decided to give it a try and came up with a whole collection of what I called Deep Thoughts by Brett Andy. So Jack Handeyesque, and mostly not quite as funny or as good as his, but I did come up with a few that I thought were half decent.

‘I would imagine a horse-drawn carriage would be a really ugly thing. For starters, it must be almost impossible to grip a pencil with hooves. Plus there is all that fine detail around the edges to consider.’ (Brett Andy)

‘Do you think if minutes were edible, they’d taste good enough that we’d want to go back for seconds?’ (Brett Andy)

I hope life isn’t a big joke because I don’t get it.

Questions or comments? We’d love to hear what you think.


Image Credits: Google