Punch Lines

Saving the Show!: The rating for this year's Miss America pageant dropped 25%. "To increase ratings next year, pageant officials are considering dropping the talent portion of the show." (David Christensen)

No Big Deal: Delegates at the United Nations gave President Clinton a rare 60-second standing ovation when he arrived to deliver a speech on international terrorism. "This wasn't much of a surprise since most foreign countries consider adultery an acceptable form of entertainment for people without cable TV." (Bob Mills)

A Big Bore: The much-hyped fall television season has finally begun. "Scientists have confirmed that it was the first time in recorded history that the citizens of an entire nation yawned simultaneously." (Mills)

Up to the Minute: Candice Bergen is giving up her gig as spokeswoman for Sprint. "Yep. She stopped on a dime." (Premiere Radio)

Express Yourself: Madonna has put her daughter, Lourdes, on the waiting list for the exclusive Cheltenham Ladies College Boarding School in England. "First, the phony British accent. Now this? What next? Divorcing a member of the royal family?" (Premiere)

Shall We Dance?: Olympics insiders say ballroom dancing may become an Olympic event in 2008. "Suddenly, the 'agony of defeat' includes a broken high heel and a run in your pantyhose." (Jerry Perisho)

Well, Duh!: A damaged painting by Leonardo da Vinci has been restored. "Upon hearing this, a teenage girl said, 'Like, I totally didn't know Leonardo DiCaprio's brother was a painter. That family is sooo talented.' " (Alex Kaseberg)

Behind the Story: President Clinton's grand jury testimony is available for purchase for $9.95 from amazon.com. "I think the joke's on us. At the end of the four-hour, 12-minute video, the credit reads: 'Written and directed by James Cameron.' " (Buzz Report)

Pay to Play: Gas stations in China are now offering customers who fill up their tanks free visits with a prostitute. "In fact, President Clinton's whole purpose for going to China over the summer? Just to top off the tanks on Air Force One." (Steve Voldseth)

Battle of the Bands: Two college bands in Texas got into a fight during the half-time show at a football game. "The fight started when one band member accused another of using cork in his tuba." (Christensen)

* SEND US A LINE: Got a joke? Send it to Laugh Lines by fax, (213) 237-0732, or mail, Life & Style, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053.

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