Jokes about Christopher Columbus tend to be pretty lame. Here’s a small selection for your displeasure:

Why did Columbus cross the ocean? To get to the other tide.

Why don’t they celebrate Columbus Day in India? Because Columbus didn’t stop to ask for directions.

How did Christopher Columbus pay for his trip to the new land?  He used his Discover card.

How do Native Americans celebrate Columbus Day? They walk into your house and say, “We live here now.”

What was the last thing Columbus said to his sailors before getting on the ship? Okay men, get on the ship.


There is one, though, worth repeating:

How did Columbus discover the New World? He sailed there occidentally.

Not a knee slapper, but it made me smile.

Columbus humor took a step up when it became part of stand-up comedy. In 1962, Andy Griffith did a routine in his homespun style that is still funny to this day. I love the line, “He went over to see the king and queen of Spain to get the money to finance the trip, and their names was Ferdinand and Isabella. Their mamas named them that cause they never did like them much.”

Sketch comedy took a pretty good whack at Columbus.

There’s a comedy group called Studio C that specializes in clean humor. Their take on Columbus is simple and hilarious. To help his students learn about Columbus Day, a grade-school teacher uses a time machine to bring the famous explorer to class. There is Columbus, dressed as we are used to seeing him in paintings, and speaking with a thick Italian accent.


As he tries to talk about his accomplishments, he is constantly corrected. His disbelief grows with every revelation.

When he tries to show on a map where he landed, he points to the word America and says, “You missa-spelled Indies.”

At one point the teacher remarks, “He was so deluded in his beliefs, he actually called the native people Indians.”

Columbus, with a gesture of frustration, says, “Why wouldn’t they correcta me, eh?”

You can find the sketch on YouTube. Search for Studio C Columbus.

The best Columbus routine, by far, appears on the most entertaining comedy album of all time. I’m talking about Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America Volume One: The Early Years, released in 1961.


For good humor, production value, and timelessness, nothing comes close to it.

The album combines dialogue and song, and pokes fun at the early history of the United States, from Columbus to the end of the Revolutionary War. Rarely is satire done so well as this. The dialogue is funny and the songs are sensational – the music orchestrated and conducted by Billy May, and background vocals by the Jud Conlon Singers.

When the ship’s crew begins to sing, “Yo, ho, ho, and a Dramamine. We are loyal subjects of the king and queen . . .” you know you’re headed for a good time.

Stan Freberg’s genius of an album can be found on YouTube.

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