A sense of humor is often mentioned as one of the characteristics that distinguishes man from animals. Mark Twain said, “Humor is mankind’s’ greatest blessing.” Notice that Mark just mentioned “mankind”, he didn’t say anything about animal kind. Scientists who’ve studied such things don’t think that animals are capable of comedy. Oh sure, Holsteins might not think Rubes or the old Far Side cartoons that make fun of them are all that funny, I’m here to tell you though, the rest of the barnyard finds them hysterical. And what cowboy doesn’t find it funny when one of their cohorts is splattered with recycled hay or kicked in the shins by a cow? I’m telling you, cowboy poets would be out of business in a heartbeat if cows weren’t funny.
People who say that cows don’t don’t ham it up on occasion often point to their straight face, stern manner and lack of a smiling countenance but just because we never see them on Comedy Central or the Tonight Show doesn’t mean they aren’t laughing their four guts out inside when a herd mate eases a cowpoke over a fence with her sharp horns.
Then too, this whole political correctness thing has put a big damper on the jokes animals can tell each other. They can’t let out a guffaw at the handicapped dog with three legs, the fat hog who should be on The Biggest Loser, or the undocumented immigrant steers from Mexico, because we’re all so supersensitive these days. Quarter Horses can’t tell Thoroughbred jokes, Longhorns can’t make fun of the puny horns grown by Herefords, and Pinzgauers can’t tell Blonde de Aquitane jokes because, well, they’re blondes. Angus cows can no longer laugh at the slutty jezebel of a crossbred who got pregnant at ten months of age, and no farm animal dares to smile or have a good time because that would destroy PETA’s ad campaign that says non-human companions are unhappy because we beat them all the time.
I’ll be the first to admit that some species of animals have a more developed sense of humor than others. I think we can all agree that sheep are the most dour but I don’t know if it’s because most jokes go over their dumb heads, or they have heard all the lame ewe jokes before.
Horses are real funny, as anyone can tell you who has ever been bucked off and then heard their humorous horse laugh all the way back to the barn. My horse, Gentleman, had a highly developed sense of humor and loved my columns, especially the ones in which he starred! He listened and laughed at all my jokes and I loved him dearly for it.
I think we can all agree that hogs are the real class clowns. They have an infectious laugh, are big practical jokers and they just look like they are laughing and having fun all the time. Who can look at a hog and not have a smile grace their face? I might have already told you about the time I was illegally riding my sister’s show pig and after a couple loops around the pen the witty hog dove into its low slung house and the roof hit me right about chest high. I tell you, that wise guy sat on its haunches and nearly laughed his hams off.
I know for a fact that cows routinely make fun of us. One foggy day when I was on the slippery tailgate of our truck doling out flakes of hay to my hungry cows my wife saw the opportunity of a lifetime and gunned the engine. After my wife quit laughing she told me that I did a beautiful one and a half twist with two complete revolutions before nailing the landing. I could have been seriously injured if my fall hadn’t been broken by the juiciest and plumpest cow pie in the pasture. My wife said if I had been in the Olympics I’d have taken the gold medal and my landing was “very clean”. But only in a diving sense.
As I rolled in pain on the ground I looked up to see 80 cows looking and laughing at me. I swear they were laughing so hard that milk was coming out their noses.