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Joke hotline creator hopes to bring laughter to community while keeping it clean

<i>WLOS</i><br/>While some march to the beat of a different drum
While some march to the beat of a different drum

By John Le

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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — While some march to the beat of a different drum, Kent Purser prefers to march to the beat of a different hum. The Asheville Parks employee hums constantly as he works with Asheville Parks and Rec and maintains about 12 city parks.

Asheville joke hotline creator hopes to bring laughter to community while keeping it clean

“I get to be outside, I get to keep Asheville pretty,” he said.

Purser said he’s inspired by Asheville, but he sure has a funny way of showing it.

Off the clock, Purser found his calling. He put up tiny signs around town to spread the word about 828-67-JOKES.

“If I get 20 calls in a day, I’m just walking on clouds, I’m so happy,” he said of his joke hotline.

“Seeing all the weirdness in Asheville, everybody’s got their own, you know, colored hair, dancing and doing different stuff. And I thought, well, jokes are fun,” Purser explained.

“Howdy, howdy. Welcome to my world famous joke hotline!” he said in his latest recording, followed by a few one-liners.

“Why do fish swim in salt water? Because pepper makes them sneeze!” his series of weekly jokes begins.

“I saw this ad on Craigslist that said, ‘Television for sale. Volume stuck on full,'” he shared via the hotline. “And I thought to myself, ‘I can’t turn that down!'”

By now, you can tell Purser has no shame in his game.

“Jokes don’t make it better or make any of our problems go away, but it helps some,” Purser said.

“And some people are critics, too,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve heard some people say, ‘Come on, you can do better than that!'”

Purser updates the hotline once a week. After every joke, he uses the sound of a juice harp to show you the funny.

Some of the punchlines are his, others come from extensive “research.” He’s compiled some in a book.

“What is the difference between a cat and a frog? A cat has nine lives, a frog croaks every night.”

The juice harp at the end is the kicker.

“All of the toilets in Asheville were stolen,” he reported. “Police have nothing to go on!”

He began recording one-liners as a sort of community service, but the response has been overwhelming.

“It’s really a wonderful feeling, because I was doing it to give,” Purser said. “And what I’ve realized is as much as I’m giving, it’s coming back. It’s making me laugh.”

Purser’s brand of humor may not be for everyone, but don’t “knock, knock” it until you’ve tried it.

“Knock, knock,” he asked this reporter.

“Who’s there?” I replied.

“Spell,” he said.

“Spell who?” I continued.

“W-H-O,” he concluded, laughing gleefully.

“You kill yourself!” I noted.

It’s kind of refreshing that Purser likes his jokes like he wants Asheville city parks: nice and clean.

“Why do scuba divers fall backwards off the boat?” the joke hotline asks listeners.

“Because if they fell forward, they’d still be in the boat!”

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