On 28 October, 1966, Elder McConkie spoke on the topic of “Are the General Authorities Human?” at the University of Utah LDS Institute. A condensed version of his remarks on the humanity and fallibility of General Authorities was published in the New Era in 1973.
The condensed version lost a lot, like this introductory tidbit-
“Well, let me talk a little about this subject, “Are the General Authorities Human?” and do it somewhat informally. They told me they would like to record this, and I said that was all right, provided nobody ever heard it at 47 east south Temple, because I enjoyed my membership in the Church.”
That’s right, if you read the whole transcript, Elder McConkie is, well, funny. Funny, ha ha. He even pokes fun at himself and Mormon Doctrine before covering the subject in a more serious way.
Most of us only know the public persona of the apostles, and that persona is often doctrinally-focused and serious. It’s sometimes surprising when they decide to set aside the serious mask. I recall a BYU devotional given by Elder Scott sometime between ’98 and 2000. He cracked a joke, and the audience was stunned. He had to crack another one before the audience laughed. He was downright funny.
Others like Elder Holland are frequently humorous. In some of his earlier talks at BYU, he even does imitations.
Of course, it’s important to be careful, when you’ve only got 15 minutes to address several million people who will parse your language for every nuance of meaning. Most of the humorous moments I’ve had with apostles have come in smaller settings, such as BYU devotionals, or small groups on missions. Elder Holland had some great mission stories of his own that I don’t think he’d share in conference, not because they reveal anything negative about him, but because they served a purpose for us missionaries.
My parents, by nature of serving in a Bishopric with his son-in-law, happened to know Elder Maxwell fairly well. He once told them regarding Elder McConkie (paraphrasing) “It’s a pity he was always so serious in public. He had the greatest sense of humor, and no one in the Church knows it.”
It’s too bad that humor frequently gets edited out. Anyone remember General Conference in which President Hinckley challenged Elder Nelson to a duel after conference? Elder Monson offered to be his backup. Sigh… not in the Ensign.
The apostles and other GA’s are indeed human, fallible, and, if you can catch’em at it, funny.