What’s the deal with the biscuits? Do they really expect this to suffice for a six months’ imperialistic voyage for exotic spices? And the servings they give you—is this for, like, a baby sailor? Did I accidentally request the infant meal?


(In a port.) Anybody here from out of town? Just kidding.


ISHMAEL: So, I’m standing in line at the public hanging, and—

HECKLER: Your comedic stylings are akin to a body lacking blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm—that is, without any humor.

ISHMAEL: Hey, buddy, do I come down to the stables where you work and criticize how you rake up the manure?

(Audience cheers, hangs heckler.)


The other day I went to the village doctor because I came down with scurvy, and I say, “Doc, it hurts when I do this.” ( Bends arm. ) And the doctor goes, “Don’t do this.” ( Bends arm again, eats a lime. )

Opening One-Liner

Call me Ishmael … please!


Polly was really getting to me yesterday, so I finally shouted, “Shut the fuck up!” He looked real hurt, was silent for a while, then stared me in the eye and said, “No, you shut the fuck up.”


Pirates … ooh, scary. Am I really supposed to be intimidated by a bunch of guys in frilly white shirts, colorful vests, and hoop earrings? Here’s what I always announce from the crow’s-nest: “Straight ahead, boys-only booze cruise!” Walk the plank, matey!


Seriously, folks, how hard is it to be a harpooner? Could you get a bigger target? That’s like saying, “Hey, let’s see if you can get this compass, thrown from the bow, to land in the Atlantic with a nor’easter squall at your back.” You know what I mean?


You have these guys who kiss the captain’s ass, just so, on the next trip, they’ll be promoted to first mate. And I’m like, who cares? I’m gonna give myself extra duties and responsibility and subject myself to the threat of mutiny—all for a 3 percent increase in my blubber-and-oil revenue share? Why don’t I just harpoon myself in the head while I’m at it?


What am I? ( Turns helm left and right randomly. ) President Fillmore’s starboard–port political vacillations! ( Pauses for polite laughter. ) OK, let’s see what else I have in my burlap sack …


I’ll tell you why I avoid the brothels when we get shore leave. When Queequeg comes out after a session with Alania of Nantucket, I don’t really want to think about him “swabbing the deck” before me. Thar she blows!


I mean, how racist is that? The white whale? Shit, if it were a black whale, you know there’d be a fleet of constable ships following its ass.


My wife keeps writing to me, “When are you going to come home?” And I write her back in several months’ time, “Baby, I’ll see you when we have reached our goal of 300 tons of whale oil and when the economy of the North Atlantic bartering system stabilizes at a ratio of 50 doubloons to 7 grams of ambergris.” And she just has to guilt-trip you, you know, when she writes back, after the rising and falling of several moons, with, “Jane’s husband quit the high seas to stay at home and tend to their kids.” And the next year, when we pass a ship going in a westerly direction, I take out my fountain pen and I’m like, “Yeah, but he quit because his eye patch reduced his depth perception, rendering him a grossly inaccurate harpooner.” And, after a plague or two, she hits me where it hurts: “At least his harpoon is made of iron.” And, post-mutiny, I write, “I guess he doesn’t mind sinking his harpoon, day after day, into blubber.” And, after a second mutiny, I get a letter that says, “He can afford it—he has a pretty long harpoon, unlike some people I know.” And, following the famine in the Red Sea, I write, “Wait a minute—are we talking about the nature of harpooning or are we carrying on an extended sexual metaphor here?” And then I heard she died of scarlet fever, so my point is, appreciate the good times.