The old joke has it
that if Karen Carpenter and
Mama Cass had
just shared the same
be alive today.
It’s hilarious – because one of them
was rather thin, the other not so much.
they both died due to conditions of
(I’ve no idea where the ham sandwich
rumour came from, but people love
to talk about Cass Elliott choking
on this food-type – essentially just
a comedy-prop – in bed. Why this is
funny and how this came to be any sort
of ‘public knowledge’ is beyond me).
Look, there are parallels:
They were both incredible. Huge
talents. The star of the show in their
respective groups. With voices that
take you away, that could make
your heart break.
They broke their own hearts,
busted, beyond repair.
Karen died of anorexia nervosa.
Cass died from a heart attack.
Let’s make a joke about these
amazing women. Let’s sell short
their legacy by having a laugh.
Let’s talk of ham sandwiches, they’re
always funny. Ham, bacon or pork.
It all comes from a pig.
Let’s laugh at what these women did,
reduce them down to an ugly – and weird
and frankly baffling punchline.
Because to think, instead, of
Dream A Little Dream and We’ve
Only Just Begun and the 40
or 50 other great recordings
between them – at least –
is harder to do, less of an
easy laugh, than making up
a story about a ham sandwich
Also, how would Cass Elliott
saving half of that bread
and pig, back in 1974,
for a first-peak of fame
nearly a decade before she
lost her battle?
Jokes about ham sandwiches
are a shortcut to actually
I know this because
I just googled: Ham Sandwich Jokes.
There are 32 different ham
sandwich jokes on one website.
Though to call them different is
awarding entirely too many points
For the most part they are
variations on the same things:
You can buy a ham sandwich for a
fiver, get a fancier one for a bit more
or get a handjob for about $200. These
are the three options listed on the menu
in the bar where this joke is about
to take place:
The guy in the bar calls out “who
gives the handjobs?”
The [blonde] barmaid says
[with a smile] that she does the tug.
Well, comes the punchline, punching
up and punching down and punching
all around, Wash your hands and make
me a ham sandwich!
There’s another about a guy that is upset
he always gets a ham sandwich for
lunch. He says if his wife gives him one
more he’ll jump off the building at the
construction site where this joke takes place.
The next day his wife gives him more pig
in bread. And he leaps to his death. His workmate
had promised much the same if he got another peanut-butter.
At their funeral – because they had one together, for
no real known reason – their wives discussed the situation.
Peanut Butter Wife reveals that her husband actually
packed his own lunch every day.
So that’s deeply hilarious.
The other main kind of ham sandwich joke has a
ham sandwich walking into a bar and the barman
[blond or not, we are never told!] points out that, hey,
we don’t serve ham sandwiches here!
“That’s okay”, says the sandwich. “I just want
That’ll be soggy bread almost instantly, I’ll bet!
Did these incredibly witty and wise stories of bread and
ham and the combination of the two to
make a meal-sized snack
arrive on the back of waiting a decade
to mock the deaths of two brilliant singers? Or were they
doing the rounds already?
I’ll never know.
But I can’t say,
after 600 words or so,
that I don’t really care.
32 jokes about ham sandwiches.
(Fuck me, that’s outrageous).
And – cue Twilight Zone music:
Mama Cass was 32 when she didn’t eat
any part of a ham sandwich and was
in fact already asleep, dying before
waking, late in the night and late in
July in 1974.
Just under ten years of waiting
and plotting, and planning the
perfect weight-mocking food-prop
And early in the morning, after making
it through the night, a poorly Karen Carpenter
cannot take another step. Her frail body,
her damaged soul, her illness in control,
its final ravaging creeping down the spine…
she collapses on the floor of her parents’
bedroom. She’s unable to sign the divorce
papers as planned. She’s unable to breathe.
To sing. To play the drums. To do anything.
She dies in February. It’s 1983. And she