Home » Army Life and Stories » JEAN SHEPHERD-Army stories funny or not? Part 2 of 2

JEAN SHEPHERD-Army stories funny or not? Part 2 of 2



Continuation of my thoughts on Shep’s Army stories regarding funny or not:


“Casual Company Education” Army language FUNNY

“Private Sanderson” A soldier who gets way with anything/everything FUNNY

“MOS Chicken Technician” Plucking 400 chickens FUNNY

“Passes Denied” The company commander is unfair NEGATIVELY FOCUSED

“T.S., Mac” He tries to get a pass. DISPARAGING & FUNNY

“Payday” A disappointing day on leave. NEGATIVELY FOCUSED & FUNNY

“POWs” The enemy has a human face. FUNNY

“A Place of Rest and Comfort” He unknowingly sleeps on a dead GI’s coffin NEGATIVELY FOCUSED & FUNNY

“Separation Center” He’s getting out! FUNNY


“Thank God I Ain’t in the Army!” He remember his last guard duty. NEGATIVELY FOCUSED & FUNNY

Well, gang, I’m surprised: I find, according to my personal opinion poll, only a few more FUNNY (Positive) than NEGATIVELY FOCUSED:



(but let’s add PATRIOTIC as a positive=23)

Of course these were my choices of stories, but I tried to be as objective regarding interest, quality, and variety as I could. Still, I’m a bit shocked, probably because no matter how negatively focus/disparaging Shep’s story-telling is, for me, there is always a tone that I would describe, as best as I can, as being humorous or having some such positive aspect. For example, as negative as “Shorn” is regarding the cutting off of each new soldiers’ hair as an act of hostility to the individual’s ego, I do find its presentation funny!

Gerald Yowell, a Shep enthusiast comments about whether Shep’s army stories are funny:

A Shepherd story that’s negatively focused? SAY IT AIN’T SO!

Actually, I can see a lot of people might find his army stories a little less than “uplifting” and “patriotic”. That’s OK. That’s the way they were meant to be.

I think Shep saw the world as a dangerous and scary place, and there were only two ways to deal with it….1. Become some sort of “phobic”, e.g. agoraphobic, xenophobic, homophobic or some other sort of “phobic”, which is the path I think most people follow, or 2. acknowledge the danger, look for the humor, and move forward anyway. The former will see the negativity in his army stories.

I could be totally wrong, but that’s the way I see it (at least tonight). BTW, I found pretty much all the stories funny, a couple not so funny, but made me think, which is nearly as good as being funny.

Recently encountered in a NY Times book review:

“Humor is a delicate, personal thing. Either an author’s sensibility appeals to you, or it doesn’t. Some people undoubtedly find Faulkner funny, or those Geico car-insurance ads.”




  1. Dan says:

    I know the story is a bit long, but I would have loved to have had ‘Troop Train Ernie’ included.

    • ebbergmann says:

      I wanted to include “Troop Train Ernie” and the story about building a baseball field in the jungles of Florida, but the owner of Shep’s creative works would not give permission, as he hopes to someday reprint such stories himself. Therefore, my SHEP’S ARMY only contains previously unpublished stories, that I transcribed from radio audios.

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