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How hot is it? It’s so hot that jokes about Kansas have stopped

It’s been a long hot dry summer here in Kansas—as it has throughout most of the contiguous 48 states.

Though summer’s barely half over, unremitting heat waves and punishing droughts have parched the Midwest earth, shriveling the wheat and corn corps on which the nation depends. In July alone, Kansas City suffered through 14 days of triple-digit temperatures.

How hot is it? July was so hot that comedians have stopped making jokes about how hot it is.

Earlier this summer, Jay Leno, during his June 30th Tonight Show monologue, quipped: “It was so hot in Kansas yesterday, the people there were glad there is nothing to do in the entire state.”

A week later, when Kansas City, Mo., hosted the major-league baseball All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium, out-of-town players half-jokingly complained about temperatures being in the high 90s—not realizing that the All Star Game was played during a cool respite from triple-digit heat—and that the temp had hit 107 the week before.

A week after that, the July 16th Doonesbury comic strip featured a joke about honeymooners taking a summer trip across Kansas to see world’s largest ball of twine in Cawker City, Kan.

By the end of July, however, Kansas’ scorched earth and withered crops weren’t so funny anymore.

When not about Kansas murders, mayhem or catastrophic weather (including tornadoes, droughts, hailstorms and floods) national news about Kansas tends to be on the lighter side. Humorous, off-beat stories from Kansas often becomes national fodder for late-night TV comedians. In fact, some comics claim Kansas has become the leading laughingstock state, taking some of the heat off Arkansas, Indiana, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, New Jersey and perhaps a few other states.

It all started about 14 years ago when the state's anti-science Board of Education prohibited Kansas schools from teaching evolution. Then, a couple of years later, Kansas ranked 50th (dead last) in a survey as a vacation destination state. Around the same time, Kansas came out with its lame tourism slogan “As Big As You Think,” which invited ridicule—and such parodies as “Longer to drive across than you’d think.”

Finally, Kansas has become a popular punchline for a raft of websites. Most of these websites feature jokes that are used interchangeably in other websites about other states. However, here are three jokes about Kansas that seem especially true and topical:

1. If you’re proud that your region makes the national news at least 96 times each year because it's the hottest or the coldest spot in the nation, you might live in Kansas.

2. Question: How did the Kansas Jayhawk die from drinking milk? Answer: The cow fell on him!

3. Q: What do a divorce in Alabama, a tornado in Kansas, and a hurricane in Florida have in common? A: Somebody’s fixin’ to lose them a trailer.

Then there’s this 1980s line from standup comedian Jeff Harms: “A favorite dish in Kansas is creamed corn on a stick.”


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