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The unexpected humor potential of gut-friendly microflora

I came up with the most awesome joke the other day. And like all the best-known one-liners, it involved probiotics:

Gut-Friendly Microflora

“I like to take probiotics and antibiotics at the same time and let them duke it out in my stomach.” 

Great stuff, right? Excellent execution, amazing creativity — the kind of joke that will inscribe my name in the granite slab of time. (Although I’d much prefer to remain unlisted, to avoid telemarketers.)

I congratulated myself on a job well done. This hard work and deep thinking not only would earn me a spot on the mantle of immortality, but perhaps also a couple of re-Tweets on Twitter. All was right with the world.

But then I was watching an old Steven Wright routine, and he told a joke that goes:

“I like to put a humidifier and a dehumidifier in the same room and let them duke it out.”

My jaw dropped open. Even without the bacterial subtext, I could clearly recognize my joke. Obviously, this jerk had stolen it! And he’d done so by traveling back in time 25 years and performing it in the 1980s, when I was only a child.

It might sound far-fetched, but if you’re familiar with Steven Wright, you’d agree it’s something he might do.

So now I can’t tell my awesome probiotics joke, because people would accuse me of rehashing, if not outright copying. So there went my one chance of landing a writing gig on the Tonight Show — as well as getting any re-Tweets on Twitter.

But there’s a silver lining amidst all this sadness. Even though my gut-busting joke is ruined, I still take probiotics to aid my digestion.

And that’s no laughing matter. (Unless, of course, I take them with beans and sit in a confined space. In that event, the term “gut-busting” takes on a more appropriate — and illustrative —  usage.)

Regardless of Jamie Lee Curtis’s claims to regularity, I’m still not sold on the science behind probiotics. (And no offense to Jamie Lee Curtis. It’s that she’s an actress, and those Hollywood stars can feign a wide range of emotions — including the glee that comes from healthy digestion and satisfying elimination.)

So I turned to the one source I trust for all my medial advice. And because the Internet was out and WebMD was unavailable, I asked my doctor instead if probiotics are really all they’re cracked up to be.

“Mmm, dunno,” he said, shrugging. “I guess they, like, can’t hurt you, and stuff? I mean, if you want to take them, go ahead.”

Sage advice. And it demonstrates how twelve years of medical school can instill a mere mortal with a dazzling array of breathtaking knowledge. Never before had I heard such a lively and passionate dissertation on the crucial role nutrition plays in physical well-being. Here was a man who poured his heart and soul into his profession, keeping pace with the latest medical research and obsessively seeking out new and more potent remedies for even the most destructive of human afflictions. I shed a tear of gratitude as I left the examining room, pausing to genuflect at the halo-encircled medical degree hanging on the wall.

“God bless you, good sir,” I said, sniffing. “God bless you.”

And I touched my chest, tracing my fingertips across the tender space in my heart.

Actually, upon a second look, I realized that tender spot was in my stomach. And when I pressed it, a pocket of air soared through my intestines and blew out my behind, resulting in a trombone-like exhibition of lip-fluttering flatulence.

“Damn gas,” I said, groaning. “Must be the beans I had last night.”

And so I popped a probiotic and wandered into the distance, fading into the horizon like the gleaming rays of the late-afternoon sun — and the dissipating stench of an odiferous, seam-bursting gas emission.

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