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In search of the perfect limerick - Denese Rodgers

I adore limericks. I have a book somewhere in my house where I used to collect them and write them down. I need to go find it for a refresher.

Limericks are five-line poems where the first, second and fifth lines rhyme together; and the third and fourth lines rhyme together. A well-constructed limerick should make you think a little and laugh a lot.

Wikipedia (my most favorite know-it-all) even used a limerick to define it: "The limerick packs laughs anatomical, in space that is quite economical, but the good ones I've seen, so seldom are clean, and the clean ones so seldom are comical."

I know a couple off the top of my head: "A pretty young thing from St. Paul, wore a newspaper dress to the ball, but the dress caught on fire, and burned her entire, front page - sporting section and all!" And, "A flea and a fly in a flue, were caught so what could they do? Said the fly, "Let us flee." "Let us fly," said the flea. So they flew through a flaw in the flue."

Unfortunately, most limericks aren't something I could print here. I don't know if it is the nature of the rhyme or just morbid tendency, but most limericks are really naughty. I just want to find the funny ones.

Red Skelton, who was a hilarious comedian from the mid-1930s to the early 1970s, would use limericks as part of his stand-up routine. It was great to watch people's faces as they repeated the lines in their mind until they "got it."

He had an amazing gift with words - inflection and innuendo. I never heard him use profanity in any of his work. "Profanity makes ignorance audible."

Now, my guilty conscious must confess - some of the naughty stuff is absolutely gut-wrenchingly funny. Some of the uncensored Ron White, Chris Rock, type stuff has me falling out of my chair. That is based on the underlying idea that the routine was funny before the addition of the blue language. If it ain't funny, adding cuss words to it won't help it any.

I think in my next life I may try open-mike comedy. I have a good enough memory for jokes and riddles. I certainly don't mind being up in front of a crowd. There would have to be some innate yummy to seeing people being tickled simply by the delivery of a few well-placed syllables.

The reason I'm even pondering the idea is that one of my favorite shows, "Last Comic Standing," is in its third or fourth year right now. The winner the first year was a Vietnamese dude. The major contender this year is a lady named, Iliza.

It is a rush to watch her - she's real good. I feel like I'm living vicariously through her every time she stomps her competition into the footlights. I almost salivate at the idea of doing something like that - something so bleeding edge that you either sink or swim every time you get on stage.

Either makes you giddy, or scares the wits out of you -- yes?

Denese Rodgers is executive director of Connecting Henry, a social-services, networking, community organization in Henry County.