At the beginning of his literary career, Alphonse Allais contributed squibs, jokes, and one-liners to various small Parisian papers. He followed already established formulas: the fable-express (a brief fable with a punning moral), the autograph (a line ending with a pun on someone’s name). He became particularly identified with the comble, the “acme.” He didn’t invent the form, but quickly made it his own. Here are a few examples, culled from Le Tintamarre, 1877-1879.
The acme of caution: To walk on your hands, so tiles won’t fall on your head.
The acme of thrift: When in the park, to gather grass for your rabbits.
The acme of cynicism: To kill a shopkeeper at night, and then post on the door: closed because of death.
The acme of impudence: To crush a gentleman’s hat with your fist, and then ask if he’s looking for trouble.
The acme of politeness: To sit on your ass, and beg its pardon.
The acme of consideration: To make a hole in the wall at night, so you can return home without waking the concierge.
The acme of skill: To learn how to read time on a barometer.
The acme of resemblance: To be able to shave before your portrait.
The acme of affectation: To stay at home, and play the piano every hour and half hour, so your neighbors will think you have a musical clock.
The acme of distraction: To lose your glasses, and then put them on to look for them.
The acme of courtesy: To put fallen leaves back on the tree.
(Posted by Doug Skinner)