Joke book touches on lighter side of UNC-State rivalry

by Keith Barber

Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing. — Mark Twain

Local author George Allen peruses his book How does a Carolina graduate spell ‘farm’? EI- EIO & another 160 jokes NC State guys and gals tell about Carolina. Allen plans on using the proceeds from the sale of his book to create a scholarship fund. (photo by Keith T. Barber)

George Allen admits he’s the black sheep of his family.

An NC State graduate, Allen did not follow in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and two uncles. They all attended UNC-Chapel Hill. One thing Allen shared with his family was a good sense of humor. Perhaps as a shield against the disappointment of his family, Allen developed a passion for collecting Carolina jokes. Over the years, retelling jokes about “Carolina men” offered Allen a way to bond with his father, who passed away in 2002. Allen said there are serious undertones to all his jokes. He agrees with Mel Brooks’ observation that humor is just another defense against the universe.

“A joke can lead to a serious conversation,” Allen said. Allen’s book, How Does a Carolina Graduate Spell ‘Farm’? Eieio & Another 160 Jokes NC State Guys and Gals Tell About Carolina, was published last year. Allen recalls hearing his first Carolina joke as an undergraduate at NC State. It had to do with former UNC head basketball coach Frank McGuire calling God for a basketball play. When Dean Smith took the reins of UNC basketball in the early 1960s, the jokes evolved.

One of the first Carolina jokes Allen ever told went something like this: Billy Graham returned to North Carolina from one of his many crusades and needed to check in with God to let him know he was back in the country. Graham was passing through Chapel Hill and Dean Smith offered the famed evangelist his office telephone to make the call. Graham resisted, saying it was a very expensive call. Smith told him, in Chapel Hill a call to God is a local call.

The jokes in Allen’s book are pretty much G-rated in nature, but still maintain a frat-house bent.

The first joke of the book reads, “How do you get a Carolina man out of your office? Subscribe to the magazine so he can go to summer camp.”

That’s followed by this humorous observation: “How do you get a Carolina man out of your den? Tell him your youngest daughter may be pregnant.”

Allen said he’s told hundreds of Carolina jokes over the years and can only recall one occasion when someone was offended.

“My model is Red Skelton — everybody can enjoy the joke,” Allen said. “My writing style is based on Will Rogers — witty without being offensive. A lot of times you can find a racy joke, and if you do some careful wordsmith work, you can make it funny without being offensive.”

Allen, a retired electrical engineer, developed his writing talent over the years. When a co-worker celebrated a birthday, Allen would often compose a rhyme for the occasion. Allen said his writing reflects his faith.

“God reveals his love in many ways, both on sunny and rainy days,” Allen writes in his poem, The Gift of Beauty. “But today I got a special treat; today I was given a butterfly to meet.”

Allen has authored two short stories about Christmas. “Why Santa Comes Down the Chimney” and “Two Friends — Squeaky and Dinger” were published in 1987.

“They touch on the true meaning of Christmas,” Allen said. “In my writing I like to touch on something serious or meaningful. Even in a joke, you can convey a serious thought.”

Allen said the Carolina joke book was borne out of a deep respect for the flagship school of the UNC system. He said he plans on using proceeds from the book’s sale to create a scholarship for students applying to either UNC or NC State.

Still, he concludes the book with a parting shot: “How do you get a Carolina man of your front porch? Tell him the difference between the cost of the pizza and the money in his hand is his tip.”