Humor by Jen Lancaster

Flip to any channel and you'll see one of two things -- extensive coverage of the BP disaster or a reality TV show starring people from New Jersey. There's nothing on but program after program displaying the situation on the Gulf floor or Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino's Coppertone-coated abs. The obvious punch line here is "I can't tell which one is oilier!" but I'd never say that due to my deep and abiding love for all things Garden State.

Although I'm not a resident, I lived in New Jersey as a kid (Bergen County represent!) and that's when I became a Jerseyphile. Although I've not set foot in the (201) for thirty years, I still bristle when someone cracks a joke at poor Newark's expense. And, really, what did Hackensack or Secaucus ever do to you?

Listen, it's not like New Jersey has the lock on urban blight, particularly as much of the state is wooded and bordered by the majestic Atlantic Ocean. Check out the industrial fringes of any major metropolitan area and you'll find the same smoke-spewing factories, untended marshlands, and enough abandoned warehouses for every fledgling mobster to stash bodies.

Seriously, have you seen the outskirts of amazing cities like New York or Philly or St. Louis? No one's about to confuse them for Paris. Or how about my current hometown of Chicago? Trust me when I say the Ship and Sanitary Canal ain't exactly the Seine.

In my opinion, there's little to mock about New Jersey. Not only can the state boast more scientists and engineers per square mile than anywhere else in the entire country, but it's been home to such varied luminaries as Thomas Edison, Frank Sinatra and Kevin Smith. Seriously? The light bulb and ol' Blue Eyes and the movie "Clerks"? Thank you, New Jersey.

Hey, Colorado, can you lay claim to both Martha Stewart and Bruce Springsteen? Didn't think so. As a society, where would we be without "Born to Run" and the best recipe ever created for buttercream frosting? Russia, that's where.

Say, California, are you all still pumping your own gas like a bunch of suckers? Yeah? Well, not in New Jersey. Also, not in Oregon, but since they're all tucked away up there in Canada's armpit, they're really not part of this particular discussion.

And what of the most important contribution to mankind to date? Uh-huh, that's right, cranberry sauce was invented in The Garden State. Think of the chaos we'd experience without the familiar magenta blob -- complete with can indentations -- festooning our festive tabletops. I mean, Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce? That would feel like the terrorists had won. Godspeed, New Jersey, for saving the holidays.

All of this is why I couldn't be more delighted that the state's experiencing an unexpected bout of PR from shows such as "Jersey Shore," "Jerseylicious," "Jersey Couture" and "The Real Housewives of New Jersey." America is addicted to their tough-talking, poof-having, table-flipping ways, thus New Jersey has been reborn in the public eye.

It's a veritable Jerseyssance, if you will.

Granted, these shows aren't exactly representative of the population as a whole and they don't always portray the residents in the best light. However, the only way to change one's image is to first capture the public's interest. Baby steps, New Jersey, baby steps.

Anyway, I'm sure there are still millions out there mocking my favorite state but you know what? When the Jersey Shore has one of the only clean beaches this summer, suddenly they're going to seem a lot less funny.

New Jersey, I pump my fist to you.

Humor & Satire

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