Calvin Coolidge, America’s Funniest President Ever?

Way back in 1987, Yankee Magazine published an article by James Dodson on “America’s funniest President”, none other than our favorite, Calvin Coolidge. The article is available in the Yankee Magazine online archives; I’m reproducing below the pages with original artwork. It’s not really, in my humble opinion, a very good article…it does have a few minor inaccuracies, but it perpetuates the legacy of president Coolidge’s laconic wit…plus I really like the illustrations.

(A tip of the hat to who had the idea first)

2 thoughts on “Calvin Coolidge, America’s Funniest President Ever?

  1. I agree, Coolidge was one of our funniest president. Will Rogers said he was “the funniest public man” he ever met. Rogers goes on to suggest that Cal “wasted” humor on people who often just didn’t “get it”. He never signaled his humor by joining in on the laugh. Like Lyndon Johnson, he didn’t seem to believe that humor was appropriate to the office of the president.
    Nobody recycles Coolidge’s wit better than Paul Boller. Check out his 1981 “Presidential Anecdotes” – I consider Boller a great scholar. I doubt that I can find an error in what he writes. Above, you note “inaccuracies” in the Yankee Magazine article.

    • Jim, thanks as always for a valuable commentary! I’ll need to check out the Paul Boller book. As for inaccuracies in the Dodson text, just a few minor ones… I doubt the president’s father was ever really addressed as “Cal senior”; as far as I know, he was always Colonel John Coolidge. Also, Dodson claims that Coolidge’s relations with the press were not close when actually he held a record number of press conferences and was notably chatty with reporters. In more general terms, Dodson, while correctly stressing Coolidge’s humor, also regrettably restates the “business of America” partial quote, and also underscores the “sleeping President” misrepresentation. Just a few minor squibbles, I suppose.

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