Sven was talking to his buddy Lars. He said, “I just learned how I can tell if I will live to be a ripe old age.” Lars said, “That’s really good to know. Tell me your secret.” Sven said, “If you have a lot of birthdays, that means you will live a long, long time.”

Hans was sentenced to life in prison on 26 counts of breaking the law. He was middle age and realized he would never get out and be able to enjoy life again. He broke down and cried right before the judge. The judge recognized his remorse and said, “Hans, I understand your grief. Just do the best you can.”

My hometown in southern Minnesota was pretty much settled by Germans. I don’t recall running into any Norwegians but I suspect there must have been some around. Here’s the reason why. Each year we Germans celebrate Bullhead Days by consuming 15,000 bullheads in three days. However, only a Norwegian would think of choosing a “Bullhead Queen” to ride in our Bullhead Day Parade.

I did encounter many Norwegians when I attended Luther College in Decorah, Iowa -- one of the few if not the only college where they still teach Norwegian. (St. Olaf may be the other one.) Unfortunately, as a German I was never really fully accepted into this at Luther. In fact all students of German origin had to do one unique thing before they were truly accepted as a Luther student. I had to pledge that any children I might have some day had to marry someone of Norwegian heritage. I fulfilled that pledge some 15 years ago when my daughter married Shawn Larson.

Although I enjoyed my experience at Luther very much, I had to be careful about what I said to my Norwegian classmates. When I met my dorm roommate, I was impressed with how tall and strapping he looked. I asked him if he was a pole vaulter. He angrily replied, “First I am Norwegian, and second, my last name isn't ‘Vaulter.’”

After I got to know my roommate a little bit he told me that when he was in third grade he wore a size 13 shoe. Trying to humor him a little, I asked if that was because he was Norwegian. He replied, “No, that was because I was 19 years old.”

I learned a lot of Norwegian humor from my roommate. He said his favorite was the classic Norwegian joke: “How do you break a Norwegian’s finger? You punch him in the nose.”

What do you call it when a Norwegian falls down a canyon? A fjordian slip.

My roommate grew up on a farm so he knew a lot of farm jokes. “How many Norwegians does it take to milk a cow? Ten, four to hold the faucets and six to raise and lower the cow’s tail.”

“How do you sink a Norwegian submarine?” he asked me. He replied, “You knock on the door.”

“How do you sink the same sub again? You knock on the door and they'll come out saying ‘Haha! We're not falling for that one again!’”

I learned that Norwegians have no time for Swedes. My roommate told me that Swedes think they are a lot smarter than Norwegians. I told him that there may be some truth to that. I then told him the story about two Swedes and two Norwegians who were traveling by train from Stockholm to Oslo. The two Swedes only bought one ticket, but the Norwegians bought two. On the train, the Swedes locked themselves in the toilet. When the conductor went by, he knocked on the door, asking for the ticket. They slipped the ticket under the door, the conductor took it and moved on.

The Norwegians saw this, and on the way back, the Norwegians now bought one ticket, but the Swedes bought none. On the train, the Norwegians locked themselves in the toilet. The Swedes soon knocked on their door and asked for their ticket. The Swedes took the ticket, went to the next toilet and locked themselves in.

The Norwegians have no time for the Danes ever since that one incident on the plane. It seems there was no floor on this plane containing 51 Danes and 50 Norwegians. The passengers were hanging on a strap attached to the roof. The captain yelled: "The plane is too heavy! One of you has to fall to your death!" A Dane raised his hand and said: "I'll do it." Then all the Norwegians clapped their hands.

You can’t help learning a little bit about the country of Norway when you attend Luther College. For example, male longevity in Norway is 81 years compared to 79 in the United States. Longevity for Norwegian females is 85 and 81 in the United States. Do you suppose that is a blessing or a curse? I will accept it as a blessing. We are blessed to have Shawn Larson in our family.

I have more Norwegian humor but I just can’t Finnish.

Riddle: How many Norwegians does it take to change a light bulb? (Answer: They don't bother, you can find lutefisk in the dark.) I hope in these dark days of COVID-19, this Norwegian humor brightens your day. Thanks to all of our Norwegian friends. May you continue to laugh with us and provide us with more humor.)


Teachers can increase the graduation rate when they regularly use humor in the classroom. Self-deprecating humor is the best. I’m glad I’m a German who likes eating bullheads.

John R. Eggers of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.