In its September 29, 1952 issue Life magazine ran a piece on a new fad called “bop jokes,” which sounds absolutely awful. When you think of the popular cultural image of bebop jazz fans of the early ’50s (some of which went on to become the first Beatniks), you imagine someone really hip and into swingin’ tunes, but sort of detached and reserved at the same time. I guess dignity is implicit. But not so much here. From the article, with photography by Yale Joel:
From the world of jazz musicians and bebop players has come a new brand of humor: the bop joke. Until the last few months bop jokes have been limited, perhaps mercifully, to people in show business. But now bop humor is becoming something of a fad, and Life, feeling its readers should be warned of this wayward form of wit, offers a few examples which can be understood by referring to the glossary of bop terms (right). Examples are illustrated by performers from the Broadway show, New Faces.
Here’s that glossary, by the way:
CRAZY: new, wonderful, wildly exciting
GONE: the tops — superlative of crazy
COOL: tasty, pretty
GOOF: to blow a wrong note, or to make a mistake
HIPSTER: modern version of hepcat
DIG: to understand, appreciate the subtleties of
STONED: drunk, captivated, ecstatic, sent out of this world
FLIP: to react enthusiastically
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