BATH — I heard a great Maine humorist the other night. I will explain what that is because Maine humorists are going the way of migratory birds. Not that important.

The difference between Maine humorists and other ones is they make you feel good about living in Maine. You walk away from hearing it and first, you know the guy actually lives here and second, you know exactly what he’s talking about.

This means Tim Sample talking about cable television in Millinocket, which is a video camera mounted in one corner of the paper mill so people can see what’s going on over there. Then he says he could watch it only for four hours at a time or so and then he had to turn it off. And on to topics like Route 2 and people driving on it who get lost. The guy is hilariously funny.

Then there is his unapologetic comment that leaves the New York high fashion industry forever one-upped about the preference in certain parts of Maine for women who offer shade in the summer and warmth in the winter. Let alone one giving every adolescent girl permission to reject starvation-level body images.

My nephew and his friend used to entertain themselves up’ta camp reading aloud in a Maine accent from “How To Talk Yankee,” illustrated by Tim Sample and written by Gerald Lewis. They were not texting or sexting or doing selfies or staring at their phones. They were came alive simply by reading something by very funny guys out loud.

(No, they had not smoked marijuana – which, by the way, as a practicing psychologist, I observe causing depression, not eliminating it, in adolescents who smoke it several times a week. It’s a depressant, which comes after the high.)

Maine humorists are disappearing from the media. Taken off the radio. There, I’ve said it. They’re certainly not on any of your choice of 250 television stations that your cable or satellite service will charge you a small fortune every month to access.

To see them, you have to find your entertainment locally, at your local pet shelter benefit or high school reunion (the upscale ones) or one of the small performing venues in aging beautiful buildings around the state.

You know that Tim Sample is a Maine humorist because after hearing him, you forget about the vitriol and the mud-slinging on both sides in Augusta. We used to rely on the heat and fury from that big furnace in Augusta to raise the temperature slightly in the winter (a joke from one Maine humorist or another).

Not anymore. It is not good-spirited heat. It is mean-spirited and sends a chill our way from people trying to keep their jobs who would rather live someplace else. They make you nervous about what either side is going to come out with next to prove they’re better than the other ones.

That’s not what you get from great Maine humorists, not from Robert Skoglund (The humble Farmer) nor from “Bert and I” (started by the late Marshall Dodge and the alive Bob Bryan) or from John McDonald or the guy from South Portland who swears a lot – and certainly not from Tim Sample.

E.B. White wasn’t a real Maine humorist, but you could hear his admiration for the material Maine humorists savor in everything he wrote about Maine.

Maine humorists don’t create their humor on a 3-D printer. They make it up themselves. They are naturals, locals who make you feel better about where you live, not about Detroit or Washington, D.C., or Los Angeles. Well, only in the sense that you feel glad you don’t live there.

No, their deaths haven’t been announced, but their disappearance from local media in preference for one of the other 250 cable choices available to you is a good way to start. Watching all that is just going to make you think you should move someplace else. 

— Special to the Press Herald

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