Polly Adler was a famous brothel owner, and three years after she died, the great comedy writer Phil Hirsch compiled a book of jokes about her. As the editor of 101 Hamburger Jokes, Vampire Jokes and Cartoons, and more than one joke book about tits, he was the perfect voice to tell the hilarious story of sex workers in 1960s New York.
The cover might be a little confusing. It’s a prostitute reading what seems to be an unironic, non-silly choice of books and a title taken from a 1951 song about feeding holiday party guests. Also, it contains zero cartoons about Polly Adler. To make sense of it, we have to flip it over and check out the back cover.
I’ve tricked you. This is no help. These are nothing. Most brains instantly classify these cartoons the same way they do a distant car horn or a wife’s voice in a 1965 joke book– unimportant nonsense you’re not meant to understand or notice. So these are… unfinished prostitute jokes not about recently deceased Polly Adler? For fucking whom? And to what fucking end? Maybe there’s an intro that can help us?
Oh, I see. We are meant to hate every micron of this. Got it! Let’s do it!
Phil Hirsch is not a good joke book editor, and this is not his best effort. It seems like he hasn’t done anything more than tell a dozen cartoonists, “gimme your… I don’t know… 38th through 49th best hooker gags.” As such, there’s a lot of overlap in material. So I’ve broken the book up into six parts, the first of which is about how crazy it would be if, get this, prostitutes actually existed.
I mean, can you imagine? In a world where you could buy sex, women would wear price tags! Like a coat, only much, much cheaper. This is the very first cartoon of the book and it’s barely even a gesture toward a joke. This is more like how you’d explain prostitution to Alvin and the Chipmunks.
This is a great example of a bit the book revisits about thirty times. If sex workers were real, wouldn’t they have things like coupons and punch clocks and complaint departments? “Ha ha what if a guy at a brothel had a gift certificate,” this cartoonist thought. “Oh, shit, that’s already the perfect caption,” this cartoonist also thought.
Sometimes instead of a joke, the characters are just going about the ordinary business of buying sex. “Mind if I browse?” is a creepy way of putting it, but he probably can, right? Is it meant to be a scheme? The only way this could be anything would be if his plan was to wander around looking at the ladies without paying and then go home and masturbate, and I’d argue that’s not a joke either. The caption might as well be “Blessed be the flesh of your neck, for I am the Whore House Strangler.”
This joke is about how hard it is to understand modern art. Unlike Polly Adler jokes! For example, the curator for this art museum hung a naked picture of a prostitute named her phone number. “That’s precisely the zany situation which has happened,” explains the caption.
If this wasn’t in a book specifically about hooker jokes, it would make no sense. It takes place in a world where prostitution is so ordinary that scientific aptitude tests might suggest it as a career, but it’s still so taboo that a man administering those tests has to be delicate about how to break it to you. Is this the first time the test decided someone should be a hooker? Is this simply an unprofessional decision made by a man with a desperate boner? Maybe they should have expected this after adding a full strength handjob to the testing procedure?
This contributor wisely obscured their signature, but it’s from the same hooker cartoonist who brought you “Woman Has a Price Tag and no Second Thing.” This time, his outrageous take on sex work is how a prostitute’s main features would be her body and price, and oh no… no second thing again. Unlike the now-classic “Career Aptitude Test Says You’re a Natural Whore,” this cartoon might suffer from being in a book about only prostitution jokes. Like, if this happened in a Family Circus comic it might catch you off guard, but here it’s as if the author has decided we still don’t get it. “No, listen! Idiots! He’s renting the lady! For fucking! Gah, how do I put this? Okay, look: it’s like if you were in a bar and instead of buying a lady a drink you bought her.”
“Yes! Exactly! Thank you!“
To be fair to Come On ‘A My House, I wanted to include a good one. This is a foreign royal telling the American Department of State that instead of going to Disneyland, he and a drunk prostitute are going to tear apart an Anaheim motel room. It’s definitely not what you or I would call a joke, but think of how much had to happen to bring it to us. Someone asked this person for a one panel prostitution cartoon and they wrote an entire screenplay about a sex addict Arabian prince dodging Henry Kissinger at Disneyland, drew this one insignificant moment from it, and threw the rest away. I would watch three documentaries about the making of this cartoon.
Here is the same cartoonist, again doing something so hauntingly not a comedy bit. The man in the hat wants to start a sex worker’s union, only the woman isn’t very interested. He’s also clearly evil, but why? Is it an anti-labor political statement? Is it a trick? Maybe collecting fake union dues from prostitutes was a common grift in 1965, but that still wouldn’t make this a joke. Maybe Phil Hirsch’s publisher changed this from, “Act like you’re reading an ordinary petition. I work for Henry Kissinger and America needs your help to assassinate sex monster Prince Abdul Ahtamaziz. We’re being watched. Pull out a titty if you accept.”
Oh, weird. This is just a nice one about a couple who had a nice time on a date. Wait… continued on next page?
This is only getting weirder. It’s as if the cartoonist has never been on a date or talked to a woman who has heard of a date. You know who writes female characters who say things like, “HOW CAN A POOR, SIMPLE, LITTLE GIRL LIKE ME SHOW HER APPRECIATION?” Men who ask other bus passengers to pee on them. This isn’t the end, though! This cartoon goes on for a third page!
After five panels, it’s revealed this dork was on a date with an escort. Or maybe she spontaneously decided to charge her friend money for sex? If it’s the second one, it’s grotesque. If it’s the first one it’s nothing more than a child’s understanding of prostitution. This is a skit Alvin and the Chipmunks would perform to let everyone know they still don’t quite get it. Which brings us to…
You may have already figured this out, but don’t ask cartoonists if they have anything funny to say about hookers.
No, hold on. What started years ago, cartoonist Bob Tupper? Her sex worker career? Are you saying she’s been a prostitute since she was a child or that she started fucking teddy bears as an adult and thought, “With a few years of training, I could make a living with this!” Which one is the joke, cartoonist Bob Tupper? Because one is unimaginably not funny and the other is my delusional hope you meant something else.
Who is this for? This would be a below average joke in A Child’s First Roast Beef Riddle Book, but in a book on such an adult subject matter it’s an embarrassment. “I guess I’ll take a prostitute with both titties if that’s what you mean, ma’am. Or simply the one butt if that’s what you’re referring to. Because if that was only a pun, fuck you. I’m serious, I’ll walk right out of here and go to the cops if that was a pun.”
As I mentioned earlier, a lot of the gags are “What if sex workers were real?” Some of the ideas are reasonable, like how they might wear price tags or distract princes from Disneyland trips, but then there are some that didn’t quite translate. If you aren’t old enough to remember, lay-away plans were a type of credit system where a store would hold an item for you and you’d pay it off in installments until you could finally take it home. This system would extremely not work for prostitution, but in no kind of heightened, comedic way. How are we meant to picture this? Does her boss lock her in a bathroom after you make a down payment and release her when you come back with enough money to fuck? Laughing at this is what murder investigators call “evidence.”
Picture this: the elevators are actually bedrooms and they are operated by sexy babes with affordable holes. Congratulations, you’re getting off on floor 69 at The Nutbuster Grand.
Cartoonist Bob Tupper is the only man brave enough to ask, “What if a prostitute answered the phone and it was a call of no significance?” Take a moment to picture it. Congratulations, you’re getting your dick wet at Wrong Number Roadhouse.
I spoke too soon. Cartoonist Ted Trogdon was also brave enough to ask what would happen if sex workers had no idea how to screen calls. Congratulations, you’re watching The New Les Crane Show at Madame Allure’s Nielsen Media Research and Ball Draining Center.
Being generous, cartoonist James Lindensmith might be trying to say, “Wouldn’t it be outrageous to ask someone their name only after you’ve fucked them?” Except he’s doing it in maybe the one situation where it wouldn’t be since most prostitutes wouldn’t care or be using their real name. What James has done is made a comic about the first thing every creep asks a sex worker with no twist or punchline. “Lettuce wraps. Alopecia. The Cleveland Browns,” it could say with the same amount of literary skill.
This one is pretty funny because Mrs. Fromsett is buying four bags of groceries for her whore house, but the store clerk thinks she’s doing it for a different reason. “Why, I bet none of these carrots are going to go up a human butt, Mrs. Fromsett. Boy, your hungry husband must go through a lot of… Dr. Slapp’s Vaginal Repair Cream, Mrs. Fromsett.”
So in a normal cartoon, this would be a gag about a frugal pervert trying to trick hookers into thinking he’s an infant and breastfeeding him. Hilarious, yes, we would have all loved it. But in the broken world of Phil Hirsch, it’s about that plan sort of failing and the awkwardness of its aftermath. It’s an argument between two prostitutes. One of them is a prostitute who has somehow heard of deceitful sex creeps and another thinks a six foot man in a bonnet, in a brothel, must be the world’s largest but otherwise ordinary baby. Comedy relies on truth, and anyone can tell you this is not how you fuck in a diaper.
You know, this is the perfect time to move on to…
In 1965, the only birth control available was a bad haircut, honk honk, I don’t know what that was; let’s just see the terrible pregnancy cartoons Phil Hirsch took to full term.
If this cartoon was taking place in the same world as the rest of the book, one where prostitution is a fully legal, regulated industry, this would be a coherent gag. But it’s not. All these men know she doesn’t belong here… this expectant mother wanting a handout. The caption for this should say, “I guess I just kind of hate women under any circumstance?”
How would child custody work in a world with a mainstream sex industry? Would a group of sad prostitutes hand you your most recent baby in a shoebox every time you stopped in? Oh no, it’s that one? Oh no.
“I know! I’ll name him Lenny Sixfootbaby, after his father. Oh, look, he has his daddy’s diaper!”
Phil Hirsch, master joke book editor, figured the reader wouldn’t mind another version of this gag. See, the thing about unwanted pregnancies is how they’re funnier when no one cares about you, you whore. Speaking of, part four is called…
“Is my wife a prostitute!?” is both the concept and the punchline for a Bob Tupper comic.
There are no heroes in this one, but I do like how Sad Sack and Grumpy Prostitute are working on their marriage. Imagine the life the cartoonist must have led to create this. We have never seen these characters before, and they both took separate cars from the marriage counselor to the whore house to have an argument over midday sidecars. It’s so much to take in. It’s like they tried for awesome and hit depressing with every single decision.
Phil: “Dennis, pal, I hate to say this, but we already have 14 cartoons about how hookers answer the phone for any reason.”
Dennis: “What if the person calling had the wrong number?”
Phil: “We have two of those.”
Dennis: “I’ve got it. What if it was someone calling for a TV ratings survey?”
Phil: “We did that too.”
Dennis: “Okay, I’ve got it. What if it was her husband and she’s sick of it. He’s always fucking doing this. His lack of boundaries is putting a real strain on their marriage, and the stranger fucking her is all, grrr I’m going to kill you both.”
Phil: “Ha ha ha I love it. Try to keep that exact tone.”
This one is hot. A second later, Edwin and Clara definitely went at it like it was their honeymoon. Kink-wise, sneaking off to a whore house and running into your wife has got to be like dressing up like a baby at a whore house and running into your mommy.
It’s a very old joke to say marriage is more expensive than prostitution, which means this cartoonist has a fundamental misunderstanding of prostitution, marriage, and comedy. And he’s not alone. There are a lot of comics about unfaithful husbands in this book and most of them are as impenetrable as Lulu after a marriage proposal. For instance:
How the fuck could calling a prostitute “George” help his lie? Is his wife listening? When she asks why his tuxedo smells like sex is he going to tell her he buried his dick in George’s pillowy breasts at the cigar lounge? There are a million details about this he can’t tell his wife. Is he going to go home and say, “I ate George’s ass in an elegant canopy bed! It cost $35 and her name was my friend George!” Ridiculous. This 1965 hooker joke book is stupidly improbable.
You don’t have to like it, but by the laws of wordplay, this is the lady’s own fault. “You said I could have a short one, wife. You didn’t say the ‘one’ had to be a non-prostitute! You also didn’t say which dinner. I can technically do this as many times as I want.” Look at this sad, frumpy idiot. She doesn’t even realize if she took off her shoes, she’d be about the same height as the hooker. Add it to the list of dumb mistakes she made to ruin her marriage. Which leads me into…
Everything you’ve seen so far was light-hearted. The bastard children, the infidelity… those were the cute ones. Let’s see what the worst cartoonists of 1965 really thought about women.
Cartoonist Bob Tupper shrugged and added a goddamn suitcase handle to a human woman. “I’m glad my mom is dead,” he probably said as he drew this.
“Okay, so the pimp stole the mindless sex object from some guy who didn’t fuck it enough,” cartoonist Bob Tupper thought to himself while drawing a pair of sweet tits. It was great, but not yet perfect. It still needed something. Bob shrieked out loud, “A weirdly tall man with a pipe and a big ‘S’ on his sweater, the ‘S’ stands for Some Random Guy With A Couple Too Many Things! See? My cartoons are deep, mother! You died wrong, mother!”
I might not get this exactly right, but there’s an old saying that goes, “Comedy equals whore house plus a child you know coming in right as you leave.”
Oh my god. A cartoonist finally gave one of the sex workers agency and she’s using it to refuse consent. Sorry, I figured these would be “objectifying women” dark, not “groping a woman on her way to a funeral” dark. I dare any cartoon to get darker than this, and oh no I think my hubris summoned this:
Cartoonist Art Lutner could have drawn anything. This book is trash assembled by a lazy psychopath with no sense of humor. Art Lutner could have drawn a hooker playing paddle ball with the caption “Stop playing paddle ball, Elaine” and no one except me 58 years later would have cared. But instead he thought, “I bet a sex slave would be really bad at her job on the first day of her kidnapping” and decided he was done with the joke. What a fucking nightmare. This is something a 5-year-old would say before growing up to be the devil. This is a Russian adaptation of The Bachelorette.
Shit, I think I summoned this one too.
Not all of the cartoons in COME ON ‘A MY HOUSE are as coherent as a half woman/half suitcase or some prostitute you’ve never met who plays too much paddle ball. I want to show you some of its rare misses:
This cartoonist tried to imagine all the absurd ways the world would look different if sex work actually exis– “OH MY GOD, YOU COULD BUY TINY WOMEN LIKE SANDWICHES!!!”
Let’s say for a minute a parking meter is the best way to keep track of how much time you have left with your prostitute. Fine. But look at the football stuff on the wall. This is his room. And they’re not even fucking! This man was paying so many women to nap next to him he installed a parking meter in his own home! That’s madness. That’s an idea you share with the anaesthesiologist accidentally killing you and no one else.
You might be thinking, “Huh?” Well, I looked this one up and there is an old, debunked urban legend about women of the night using candles to time their sessions. And even if it was a real thing, are these two meant to have sex for the entirety of that candle? I don’t think you need to be a birthday cake scientist to spot that as a “several dick” candle. So this is a non-joke about something the cartoonist is wrong about featuring characters who are vacant, confused, sad, smug, and sad about it in that order. This is the highest density of stupid mistakes I’ve ever seen, and I’m an American.There is no way I could be more frustrated by this book, and oh shit what have I once again summoned:
I don’t know what this means. I wouldn’t know how to begin the research process to discover what this means. You are out of your mind if you think I’m going to google “Michigan +prostitute +suitcase” and scroll through five pages of Grand Rapids cold cases to discover there was some 1930s song called “My Summertime Michigan Whore.” Not on the same day I read a “comedy” book about human trafficking. I asked everyone I know and nobody has any idea what this could be. I’m sure someone reading will get this reference, but listen: I don’t care. If you know, don’t put it in the comments! This lady bought luggage in Michigan and that’s already by far –by far– not the worst hooker suitcase joke I’ve seen today.
Not all of the crazy ones are bad. This cartoon is about a hooker who gives out fuck trophies! Adorable! I don’t have anything bad to say about it. Look at how happy he is! This must be what I looked like when I beat Resident Evil 4 using only the pistol, while inside a prostitute.
And this one is about a lady whose daughter is back from… from sex worker camp? Again, if you think you know what this means don’t tell me.
Man at Bar: “Me too! There’s no way this is a response to something you said, but I’m not quite sure how homonyms work or how to set them up!”
“I probably mean a ‘whodunme,’ or some kind of play on words! I… iiiice… creeeeaaam coooone…. haaaaat, help! Help!! Ice cream cone hat! Why!? Ice cream cone haaaat!!”
In order for this gag to work you have to imagine this prostitute had nothing left to lose but her soul. So she called on Satan to sell this last part of herself, and the comic starts right as Satan says, “No. But I will have sex with you.” It’s not “ha ha” funny, but it is “ha ha she has no further to fall and now she’s fucking the literal devil” funny.
This comic is a thousand dead ends in a maze with no minotaur. Your joke instincts might sense hypocrisy, like this woman is accusing men of being one-dimensional while she is guilty of the same thing, but these women are doing five different things. Unless… sitting? Is the joke that men only want sex but women only want ch-chair? No. No. I refuse this. Satan, I have nothing left; I summon thee to fuck me to death.
“Yeah, yeah, I know it’s not a punchline relevant to this situation, Miss. Yes, you’re right. Candid Camera wouldn’t show something like this and it’s not a ‘practical joke’ to solicit prostitution. Look at you, so smart. Well, let’s see if you can answer this: I just ate six packs of cigarettes and the best thing you can do for me is put that pillow over my face and make sure I never wake up.”
“Sorry, I probably mean ‘lick.’ Which doesn’t really have a double meaning since it would be strange for a woman to walk into a bar and threaten to kick everyone’s ass. Let me start over. Hi, I sell full, condomless penetration for $10. If you want a six inch tall woman, there’s a tiny hooker automat in the back. I don’t know how!”
This is so goddamn dumb. By cartoon logic this whore house should have been obliterated by a truck long before the highway commissioner’s office could send a guy out. I don’t know why I’m bothering to analyze it. It’s two seconds of a Roadrunner cartoon glued to a hooker. Let’s do one more.
Cartoonist Bob Tupper doesn’t understand most things. He doesn’t know what’s funny about hookers or what teddy bears are used for, but he does understand the sacred oath taken by mailmen to never solicit a prostitute during work hours. “Neither snow, nor rain, nor moistness of vulva shall keep me from my duties! So swears this man of the United States Postal Servi–” oh goddamnit I’ve lost my mind again. Fuck you, Phil Hirsch.
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