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In Charge

By Ray Lesser


My parents finally did it. The old goose and gander flew south, away from the icy roads and snow-covered driveways of Cleveland. Continue reading

Before I Get Started

By Ray Lesser


First, I need to turn off the radio alarm clock that I put on the other side of the bedroom and tuned to the worst A.M. tea-bag talk station in town, so I can’t stand to lie in bed for even a minute longer listening to them rant about the Nazi Communist baby-killing do-gooder conspiracy that’s trying to take away our right to shoot immigrants. Continue reading

The Raymond Lesser Dorm

By Ray Lesser


When the inmates are all snugly locked in at night in their ultra-secure dorm, it’s nice to know they’ll be thinking of me. Continue reading

27 Things I Want to Do Before I Die

By Ray Lesser


Last year, the man who co-wrote the best-selling adventure travel guide 100 Things To Do Before You Die died at the age of 47. Continue reading

Dangerous Fashions

By Ray Lesser


It’s not easy being beautiful. In fact, sometimes being on the cutting edge of fashion can be downright dangerous. For example, this news story was reported last month: Continue reading

Your Inner Fish

By Ray Lesser


Five summers ago, Neil Shubin discovered the missing link: a fish with hands. Finally, scientists had proof that our ancient ancestors really did drag themselves out of the ocean, becoming the first proud owners of beachfront property. Continue reading

Guilty Pleasures — What People Do When Their Spouses Are Out Of Town

By Ray Lesser


When your spouse goes out of town, they’re off working hard selling more widgets, or giving speeches at important conferences, or at the very least arranging for your brother-in-law to be released on bail. Continue reading

Zen Consumerism

By Ray Lesser


Consumerism is the desire to attain personal happiness through consumption and the purchase of material possessions.

Zen Consumerism is the practice that allows you to see your wallet as it really is: completely empty. Continue reading

Kite String Theory

By Ray Lesser


Kite string theory ties everything that’s wrong with the world into one neat, impossible-to-open package. Continue reading

The Future Is Wow

By Ray Lesser


The future is clear to me. It’s the present that I don’t understand. Although it seems hard to imagine, listening to the daily, hourly, and minutely breaking news stories on the collapse of capitalism and the complete breakdown of civilization, a bright and amazing future will soon be upon us. Continue reading

Poor Raymond’s Almanac

By Ray Lesser


Courteous Reader,

Last year the bottom fell out, the top lost its head, but the middle muddled through. Many of our biggest banks managed to collapse by following the motto: “Give credit where credit is dubious.” Continue reading

Mom’s Guide To Life

By Ray Lesser


My mother knows all there is to know about living in the modern world. And she never lets us forget it. From The Great Depression to the world’s biggest shopping mall, from silent movies to talking ovens, from men on roller skates to men on the moon, she’s seen it all. Whenever I have a problem in any area of modern life I refer to the appropriate section of Mom’s Guide to Life.

Fashion – Put on some clothes without holes in them.

Music – Turn down the stereo!

Education – Do your homework or no TV.

Sex – After you take out the garbage I’ll talk to you about it.

Dating – Don’t forget to put on your rubbers. And your scarf.

New Products – I don’t care what they said on TV, we’re not buying any.

Natural Resources – Don’t stay in the shower too long, you’ll use up all the hot water!

Health Clubs – You want exercise? Go mow the lawn.

Diets – I don’t like how thin you’re getting, you’d better eat something.

Work – Nobody does good work nowadays.

Politics – They’re all a bunch of thieves.

Conservation – Turn out the lights in the dining room.

Pleasure – Don’t go looking for trouble.

Happiness – Don’t get your hopes up.

Advice – If I wanted your advice I would have asked for it.

Fun – If you keep doing that you’re going to break something.

Celebrations – If we don’t get going soon, we’ll never find a parking space.

New Movies – Don’t waste your money, it’ll be on TV next year.

Travel – Don’t go, it’s not safe.

Going Downtown – Why bother? I can get it at the mall.

Shopping – You’ll never remember the thing you went to the store to get until you come home without it.

Neatness – If I see this laying on the floor one more time, I’m throwing it in the garbage!

Making an Impression – Sit up straight and don’t talk with your mouth full.

Modern Communications – Wait till after 11 when the rates go down.

Homemaking – Every time I turn around there’s another mess to clean up.

Home Cooking – What do you think this is, a restaurant?

Discipline – Wait till your father gets home.

Wealth – It’s more trouble than it’s worth.

Doctors – None of ’em can tell you nothin’.

Romance – Get off the telephone, I’m expecting a call!

Children – What can you do?

God – I’m not going to worry about that right now.

The Future – Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

This column originally appeared in 1992. My mom, Ethel, passed away last month at the age of 93. Although she is gone, her guidance lives on, in an endless series of suggestions, pleas and warnings that I hear in my head all day, every day. She will continue to be an inspiration to everyone that ever had the privilege of having her tell them what to do.