Churchill’s Humor: from “Churchill in His Own Words”

Alcohol

A Mormon visitor, when offered a whisky and soda: “May I have water, Sir Winston? Lions drink it.”

Churchill: “Asses drink it too.”

Second Mormon: “Strong drink rageth and stingeth like a serpent.”

Churchill: “I have long been looking for a drink like that.” —1950

 

Dirty dogs and palings

Sir Wilfred Paling (Lab.) violated Parliamentary decorum by shouting at Churchill, “Dirty dog!”

Churchill: “The Hon. Member should realise what dirty dogs do to palings.” —1920s

 

Indians

Roosevelt, at a White House lunch, placed Churchill next to the publisher and ardent campaigner for India’s independence, Mrs Ogden Reid, and sat back awaiting the inevitable explosion.

[Mrs. Ogden Reid: “What are you going to do about those wretched Indians?”]

Churchill: “Before we proceed further let us get one thing clear. Are we talking about the brown Indians in India, who have multiplied alarmingly under the benevolent British rule? Or are we speaking of the red Indians in America who, I understand, are almost extinct?” —1943

 

Moustache and politics

Newly introduced young woman: “There are two things I don’t like about you…your new moustache and…your new political party.”

Churchill: “Pray do not disturb yourself, you are not likely to come into contact with either.” —1900

 

Plastiras

Churchill loved to play on words, as in the case of General Plastiras, the Greek Prime Minister in 1945, whose name he pronounced “Plaster-ass.” The first time he heard it he said: “Has he feet of clay?” —1945

 

Mussolini (as controlled by Hitler)

Churchill: “The organ grinder still has hold of the monkey’s collar.” —1941.

 

Napoleon

Churchill: “I certainly deprecate any comparison between Herr Hitler and Napoleon; I do not wish to insult the dead.” —1940

 

Rat swimming

WSC was informed that a Conservative MP was standing for a by-election as a Liberal.

Churchill: “The only instance of a rat swimming toward a sinking ship.” —1905

 

Two Gentlemen of Verona

Churchill knew his Shakespeare, several plays line for line. When his Private secretary John Colville’s Italian cook turned up six months pregnant he told Churchill that he believed the cook’s downfall to have been brought about by a man in a street in Verona after dark.

Churchill: “Obviously not one of the Two Gentlemen.” —1954

 

“Red Herring”: The Shaw-Churchill Exchange is Bunk!

The story: George Bernard Shaw wrote WSC: “Am reserving two tickets for you for my premiere. Come and bring a friend—if you have one.”

Churchill allegedly replied: “Impossible to be present for the first performance. Will attend the second—if there is one.”

The Churchill Archives Centre has informed me that this wonderful exchange, though reliably reported, was denied by both George Bernard Shaw and Sir Winston. Alas it must be laid by the wayside.  —RMLC

 

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