The Joke's on Jack

A "Light Moment" prepared by Tammy Orr

In 1963, as a young ground school instructor teaching flight techniques at Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Oklahoma, Jack Gaskill was advised that using humor in the classroom was an effective way to put the students more at ease and to activate learning. So, Jack developed a pattern of telling a joke at the start of each class.

Six years later, Jack, now professor Gaskill, attempted to use this method to make himself more approachable to his first class of students at the Optical Sciences Center.

Professor Jack Gaskill

Professor Gaskill: A man walks into an exotic pet shop to buy a unique birthday gift for his wife.

Student: (Laughing and groaning.) Oh no.

Gaskill: Young man, what do you mean “oh no”? I just started my joke.

Student: Excuse me, professor Gaskill, but I have heard you tell this joke before.

Gaskill: That’s impossible. This is my very first day teaching at OSC and I haven’t told this joke to anyone since arriving in Tucson.

Student: But sir, I was in your ground school class six years ago at Vance. You told the same joke then.

The young man in question turned out to be Ph.D. student Bob Breault, who received his degree in 1969. After that day, Jack’s standard pre-joke joke became, “Okay, I’m getting ready to tell a joke. Bob, start laughing.”

By the way, Bob still vividly remembers the joke in its corny entirety. I’m sure if you ask, he would be glad to tell it to you, sound effects included. But be forewarned: Bob told me, “Once you hear this joke, you NEVER forget it.”