53 Comments

  1. Btw this strip ends 2/14/21 of the creator’s own volition. See “daily cartoonist” website.

    Creator: “If you want to see the reruns, let the GoComics people know.”

  2. Thanks for linking that in, dollarbill. The imminent end is of course being reflected in the content of these last few strips.

  3. I know it’s weird, but my first thought was that PA’s ashes were being kept in a very appropriately-named container. Sorry . . . my mind always goes to places like that . . . says the woman who has her Mother’s ashes in her nightstand (and threw her father’s ashes into the Colorado River), and all her dogs’ ashes in a special display case. And yes, I’m also a fan of Caitlin Doughty, of The Order of the Good Death website and YT videos fame. Color me morbid. Or realistic. Your choice.

  4. Andréa, I also thought of the can as containing his ashes.
    You may know that, inside the fancy urn one may have bought, the actual “cremains” are delivered in a more utilitarian container of some sort.

  5. I have to tell a funny (after the event) story my dad’s carer told me.

    The family gathered at a railroad crossing to scatter ashes (the deceased loved trains, whatever that means). After some solemn words from all the family members, the urn was opened and the ashes were . . . dumped out in a plastic bag.

    This carer came with me to scatter my dad’s ashes in the Colorado River, and I came prepared with a pair of scissors.

    I never bought urns; the plain containers for all are good enough for me to look at. As with the people, it’s what’s inside that matters.

  6. Yes, I’ve had some cats cremated and bought nice little wooden boxes, maybe with a little metal plate with their name. Not all the boxes were sealed, and inside the ones that I could open was a small cannister, sealed, with the actual remains.

  7. Even us geezers never actually saw Prince Albert tobacco. in a can or elsewhere. We had content ourselves with King Oscar’s Fish Balls in a sardine tin. I thought that was more funny, actually.

  8. I saw the Prince Albert joke many times in books when I was a kid, and I never understood it, since I didn’t know about the actual product; only about the joke.

  9. I wonder whether Pab just didn’t want to sacrifice making this joke, or is unaware that the Prince Albert tobacco brand was not named for Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha , Queen Victoria’s husband, and the presumptive referent of the young man calling him “Father” in the last panel.

    Rather, at least according to the Prince Albert tobacco Wikipedia page, and other sources, it was named for his son, who later reigned as King Edward VII but had the given names Albert Edward and was popularly known as Prince Albert during his time as Prince of Wales.

    And that probably is the same young man shown in the comic, himself!

  10. I don’t think it’s a geezer reference because I think kids today still hear the joke. And like us, when they hear the joke, they have no idea what it was ever supposed to have meant.

    I have no idea why children repeat jokes they do not understand, but they do. (Actually it frustrated me when someone would tell a joke they didn’t get— “What’s Prince Albert in a Can?” “Don’t you get it? if he’s in a can he’s going to suffocate” “Well, yeah, but why would a person ever be in a can? And why would anyone ever answer ‘yes’ to the question? Nobody does have a person in a can. And how can it be a joke when we we are told he was in the can in the very beginning? Why would it be a surprise that he’s going to suffocate? It has to be there is a thing called ‘Prince Albert in a can’, or maybe it is called ‘Prince Albert’ and it’s packaged in a can. That has to be the joke.” “That doesn’t make any sense. What’s ‘Prince Albert’?” “That’s what I asked you! You’re the one who told the joke. So you should be the one who knows why it’s supposed to be funny” “I told you why it supposed to be funny. You have to let him out of the can or he will suffocate”……

    (I had similar discussions about “Gorilla my dreams I love you”. So far as I know I’ve never met anyone who has actually heard the song… it was a song, wasn’t it. Or was it supposed to just be a recognizable phrase?

    ….”We had content ourselves with King Oscar’s Fish Balls in a sardine tin. I thought that was more funny, actually.”

    What was the punch line? Actually, was Prince Albert a tobacco? I always figured it had to be some kind of canned meat or paste.

  11. Woozy, I had trouble with it on early hearings, because it was told as “The prankster phones up the tobacconist and asks…” and I didn’t right off know what a tobacconist’s would be.

    There indeed was a Prince Albert tobacco, and still is such a brand though under different ownerships over the years.

    The Gorilla title is playing off a song “Girl of my dreams”.

    P.S. Is your refrigerator running?

  12. Dad used to smoke Prince Albert tobacco, and he bought it in smallish hip-pocket-sized cans. It was sealed with a strip of a blue sticky tape. At least once, I tried using the blue tape as a fishing lure! It worked – once.

  13. “Woozy, I had trouble with it on early hearings, because it was told as “The prankster phones up the tobacconist and asks…” and I didn’t right off know what a tobacconist’s would be.”

    I will not buy this tobacconist. It is scratched.

    By the time the joke got around to my schoolyard, jokes were, if printed, of the form Q: …. A: ….. so I’d have seen it, or heard it simply as the set up/delivery “Do you have…. a can?” “Better let him out….” with no exposition. It was clear it was a prank call[*] but it wasn’t clear whom you were calling; or even whether you were calling a private residence or a retail business.

    “The Gorilla title is playing off a song “Girl of my dreams”.”

    Yes, four years after hearing it I, at the age of twelve, finally figured that it was a pun on “Gorilla=girl of” although to my Californian ears, they hardly sounded alike. But my point still is, is there anyone who has ever heard this song “Girl of My Dreams”? I’ve never met anyone who has.

    [] Now one might argue now that we have caller id and callback that no-one has made a prank call in over 30 years and kids today might not know the concept. Agreed. But my point is kids *still repeat jokes without getting them. No understanding the conceit of the set-up is not going to be a deterrent, especially if not even understanding what the humor is supposed to be is not. I’m positive kids are still going around saying “Do you have Prince Albert in a can” “Huh? Wha…?” “Then you better let him out or he’ll suffocate!” “Oh…. that’s funny! Ha-ha!”

    We have reader’s here who are under 40. Let’s ask them. Have they heard it? If it wasn’t a geezer for them, why should it be a geezer for kids now? (Well, actually think I do know why….)

    “P.S. Is your refrigerator running?”

    To be fair, everyone did get and understand that joke.

    Mad Magazine (back in the over-detailed comic book style days) had a subway ad that read “Does your nose run and do your feet smell? Uh-oh. You are built upside down.” I always thought that was kind of funny and should have gotten more play.

  14. I also have little sentimentality regarding remains. When one of my cats dies, I give him a bath, wrap him in an old pillowcase, and put him in the garden. The part I loved was gone.

    My sister made a good joke about cremation, though. Our dad said he wanted to be cremated and have his ashes spread in the garden. My sister said that that way, when her kids were driving her nuts, she could tell them to go outside and play with grampa. My other sister thought that wasn’t funny at all, until she’d had a couple of glasses of wine. The more wine, the funnier the joke got.

  15. If you have little sentiment of remains, why do you bathe the corpse and put it in a pillow-case?

    I have a fair amount of “sentiment” and wrap my cats in a pillow case and bury it is a garden and, have enough sentiment to put a heavy stone on top (an animal digging it up would upset me) but it never occurred to me to bathe the critter.

  16. It started with my first cat, Doc. He would never let me bathe him, and he always looked scruffy. So when he died, while I was crying I gave him a bath. I read once that historically, we have always prepared our own for burial, and it was part of the grieving process. It helped me, anyway.

  17. Kids like the predictability and structure of jokes — it’s a chance to participate in conversations where they know the rules, and they get to take turns, and adults have to respond to them. There was a series of cartoons in Baby Blues that I thought nicely illustrated this, but I can’t find them on the internet. Basically, Zoe likes Knock Knock Jokes, but hers never make any sense, along the lines of “Knock Knock” “Who’s there?” “Grbdif!” “Grbdif who?” “Grbdif balffdpppththtbt!”. Darryl then tells her one: “Knock Knock” “Who’s there?” “Olive.” “Olive who?” “Olive You!” and he kisses Zoe. And Zoe goes: “I don’t get it.”

    I see this all the time with the kids of friends: they desperately want to be part of the conversation, even though they don’t understand the conversation. Jokes are great vehicles for them to participate in the structure of conversation, even if they don’t understand the conversation. One kid loved to play Battleship, even though she understood nothing of the strategy of the game: she would hit a ship, but not then make her next guess be an adjacent square: she just was happy to take turns spouting off numbers and letters and having responses given to those by adults. She grokd enough to know which letters and numbers she could say, and even enough to be able to respond if a set of coordinates was a hit or a miss, but didn’t grasp the overall concept of sinking the opponent’s fleet before they sunk yours.

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: kids are stupid. …and amazing learning machines.

  18. Some years ago I found a reasonably vintage Prince Albert tin in a collectibles shop. It resides in the downstairs bathroom in a little shadow box with a sign reading, “Prince Albert in the Can: Archaic joke explained upon request.” Still waiting for anyone to request.

    Beyond the obscurity of the tobacco tin, do people still call the bathroom the can?

    The other phone gag kids told each other but never quite executed:
    “Is Mr. Wall there?”
    “No.”
    “Is Mrs. Wall there?”
    “No.”
    “Are ANY of the Walls there?”
    “No.”
    “What the hell’s holding up your roof?” (click)

    One more I saw in a Sunday comic of Buzz Sawyer’s Pal, Rosco Sweeney (on weekdays Buzz had adventures; on Sundays his old war buddy turned orange grower did mild comedy). A bunch of Rosco’s cronies, all disguising their voices, call his number and ask for Elmer Somethingorother, refusing to believe he’s not there. Finally one of them says, “This is Elmer Somethingorother. Any messages for me?”

  19. “And was he the one with the … you-know-what. ?”

    Well certainly he had a you-know-what; but there was nothing unique or special about that, to make him “the one with”. In his time and place, it would be removed only as a religious practice.

    (However, there is no evidence at all that it was decoratively pierced.)

  20. “do people still call the bathroom the can?”

    Yes, in some circles, that I am familiar with.

    Also it can mean “the buttocks”.

    And I was quite puzzled, many years ago, to hear then-terrestrial-broadcaster Howard Stern refer to a woman’s breasts as “her cans”. And have heard it again from others.

    Besides the differences between British and American names for the bathroom, there also seems to be a difference in how “the toilet” or “the toilets” is read in either place in terms of class or vulgarity. For many Americans it seems vulgar or déclassé because they think of it as naming the fixture more readily than the room. So to hear someone say “Excuse me, I’m just going to the toilets” foregrounds the idea of elimination. But surprise!, the meaning of the room precedes that of the fixture, historically, and retains that as first meaning even for the somewhat posh in the UK.

  21. MinorAnnoyance: I wish I’d gotten some footage of your downstairs bathroom, because then I’d have documentation of Prince Albert in a can in the can in the can….

  22. I probably have anyone beat in ‘sentimentality’ . . .




    If you wonder why ‘starfish’ . . . this story is what we in dog rescue remind ourselves, when we can’t save ’em all . . .

    The Starfish

    Once upon a time there was a wise man
    who used to go to the ocean to do his writing.
    He had a habit of walking on the beach
    before he began his work.

    One day he was walking along the shore.
    As he looked down the beach,
    he saw a human figure moving like a dancer.

    He smiled to himself to think of someone
    who would dance to the day.
    So he began to walk faster to catch up.

    As he got closer,
    he saw that it was a young man
    and the young man wasn’t dancing,
    but instead he was reaching down to the shore,
    picking up something
    and very gently throwing it into the ocean.

    As he got closer he called out,
    “Good morning! What are you doing?”

    The young man paused, looked up and replied,
    “Throwing starfish in the ocean.”

    “I guess I should have asked,
    why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?”

    “The sun is up and the tide is going out.
    And if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.”

    “But, young man, don’t you realize
    that there are miles and miles of beach
    and starfish all along it.
    You can’t possibly make a difference!”

    The young man listened politely.
    Then he bent down, picked up another starfish
    and threw it into the sea,
    past the breaking waves and said,

    “It made a difference for that one.”

  23. To agree with and supplement larK’s explanation of kids repetition of jokes: When you’re a kid, there’s a lot of stuff going on that’s just incomprehensible. If you wait for everything to make sense before you do things, you’re not going to be able to do a lot. So a lot of times you’re just going to make your best guess about what to do, usually by copying someone else.

  24. Danny Boy: “But surprise!, the meaning of the room precedes that of the fixture, . . .”

    And on that note, as a kid I was particularly baffled by the idea that someone would pay for “eau de toilette.”

  25. When I first visited London and was in the back of a taxi, speeding thru the city, I noticed so many ‘TOILET’ signs in residential windows . . . I thought how strange it must be to advertise that you had a toilet in the house . . . would you let someone in to use it???

    Whilst walking thru London later that day, I realized that the signs were for apartment ‘TO LET’.

    The brain does strange things when seeing things speeding by.

    As in . . . Australia, where I saw every bar advertise ‘XXXX’. OK, I thought, different country/continent, different morés . . . I guess ‘adult’ shows are more accepted here.

    Much later, when I mentioned this to Hubby, he laughed and told me it stood for beer . . . Foster’s XXXX. Good thing I knew this later, as Terry Pratchett’s version of Oz on the DiscWorld is called Four Ecks.

  26. On the Cheech and Chong comedy record “Sister Mary Elephant” from about 1974 or so, from time to time a student can be heard saying “I gotta go to the can, man.”

    My grandpa smoked Prince Albert tobacco. I thought everybody’s grandpa smoked Prince Albert tobacco.

  27. Oh my – that’s the first time pics from my directory came thru rather than just the URLs. Sorry ’bout that!!

    As for grandpas smoking . . . for mine, it was Players; for my Dad, too, ’til we came to USA, then it was Camels. Five packs/day.

  28. Well, woozy, I’ve actually heard the song. As youngsters we actually would sing the line and then crack up.

    As for cats, up until our last two, they are all buried garden adjacent. We lived in a townhome with no private yard, so they were cremated, and reside in wooden boxes in our closet, because we don’t know what else to do with them. And while we don’t have quite the elaborate array of memorials as Andréa, there are definitely more pictures of cats throughout our house than other relatives.

    I have always loved the starfish story.

    And WTH is a fifteen ringer?

  29. If you are viewing the site from the standard web interface, there is a place under the second sidebar menu where there is a listing of Recent Comments. Each listed comment shows the commenter’s posting-name and avatar, and the name of the thread the comment appears in. When all 15 comments shown are from the same thread, that has been called a fifteen-ringer.

  30. Andréa, thanks for sharing your memory cabinet. I’m happy for you to have had such wonderful companionship from these fellow creatures!

  31. Woozy – the feet smell/nose runs joke must be rather old – my dad told it to me when I was young – elementary school age at the most and knowing my dad – it was not a new joke then.

  32. My paternal grandfather smoked cigarettes. My dad and his brothers were cigar smokers and dad smoked a pipe (actually one of several and of course on my parents trip to the UK – he bought a “Sherlock Holmes” pipe.

    Some years ago – but after dad had been dead for a number of years – husband and I found a Pennsylvania German Festival that was a rather local event. (Not calling it Pennsylvania Dutch as there are no Amish there unless as a part of the public, but there are some Mennonites and other and other German religious groups represented.)

    Unlike most craft show where the demonstrations exist to sell one’s work, this event is focused on demonstrations – demonstrators are allowed to sell, but it is very played down. The event is setup on the grounds of a 18th century German family’s home – there is a road running through the property. On the side of the road the house is on there are demonstrations of 18th century “home skills” and “trades”. Across the road there are 19th demonstrations of 19th century “home skills” and “trades”, as well as stage where lectures are given on the theme for the year and music is played (and butchering demonstrations and food booths and farm animals demonstrations – poor sheep must be very hot by the time they get their fleece cut in August). The society which runs it is also teaching the home skills and crafts to children who attend classes during the year also.

    One of the 19th century demonstrations is cigar making. Every year (except last of course) while standing there I end up sighing and thinking how nice it would have been to make a donation to the fair and receive a cigar in exchange to give to my dad. He would have loved it.

  33. Left out – my maternal grandfather had smoked cigarettes, but when the first studies on cancer being related to it came out he stopped – cold turkey. (He also only chewed 1/2 Chiclet at at time and cut paper napkins in half – I think of him whenever during this past year Robert makes me cuts paper napkins in half and reuse them meal to meal “so we don’t run out”.

  34. 2/9 comic has Beethoven speaking in German. the translation is: I think Schröder got the better side of the bargain

  35. From childhood I’ve had an empty red tin of Prince Albert. I have no idea where it may have come from. I’ve been trying to find it in recent weeks, but so far all I have found is a sketch I made of it in junior high.

    Also, note that old-fashioned phone prank jokes have always featured in The Simpsons episodes, so this type of humor is still around.

  36. “:Beyond the obscurity of the tobacco tin, do people still call the bathroom the can?”

    Was that the original punch line? Somehow by the time the joke got to our school yard it had been cleaned up to “Better let him out or he will suffocate”. The more crude of us would have gotten can=toilet (I wouldn’t; I was a bizarrely and extreme mild kid) but that would have regulated it to a “dirty” joke that we wouldn’t have been comfortable distributing as freely.

    Wow. I’m not sure why I never put two and two together and got larK’s explanation of kids and jokes. That is of course exactly why.

  37. Cigar-making makes me think of Harpo Marx. There was a cigar maker named something like Goerke in New York City. The kids called him “Gookie”. He sat in the window of his shop making cigars, facing the street. He usually got so absorbed in his work that he paid no attention to the kids outside. Harpo said: “And when he got going good he was completely lost in his work, so absorbed that he had no idea what a comic face he was making. His tongue lolled out in a fat roll, his cheeks puffed out, and his eyes popped out and crossed themselves.” Harpo learned to duplicate that face and often did it in the act and in the movies. https://boingboing.net/2008/06/28/harpo-marx-on-the-or.html

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