Thursday, January 20, 2011

It's Not Funny

Bad news, everyone. It looks like not-funny jokes might be back for a while. Every couple years my humor turns toward jokes that aren't funny. I don't mean jokes like the old "No soap, radio" or even the pink golf ball joke. And I don't mean children's corny jokes, old chestnuts that have to have the dust wiped off them before use, or puns that turn boys into groan men. Those are all fine forms, and I enjoy them. In fact, my favorite joke is a shaggy dog story. But every now and again I get on a kick of coming up with jokes that just aren't funny. I've tried telling a few, but no one laughs. I don't laugh. I don't think they're funny. I think I enjoy the idea of these jokes existing and being told, but they should probably stay in the abstract realm.

I think this was the first one I came up with, years back.

Q: What did Frankenstein say to the Wolfman when he saw him in the grocery store?
A: I don't know, probably like, "Hey man, what's up?"

Hm. It's got a few elements going for it- monsters, an atypical location for them, a classic what-did-blank-say-to-blank set-up. Then the punchline fails to deliver.

It could have been a decent joke with a punchline like:
A: "Do you know what aisle the batteries are on?"
A: "In this economy, even I'm eating dog food."

Or even if it went toward the metajoke or anti-joke absurdism.

A: "Lighthouse!"
A: "It's closer to my bus than Chicago."

But when this mood strikes me I seem driven to tell jokes that have a set-up with potential and a punchline that sucks any humor from it.

I realized this part of my humor cycle was back earlier today. I was given a golden opportunity to make multiple penis jokes and here's what came out.

A variation on the original:

Q: What did my penis say to the Wolfman when he ran into him in the supermarket?
A: "Oh, hey. Yeah, so I hope shit's not like, weird between us just because I'm dating Christie. I mean, I know you guys were pretty serious, but it's been like 5 months... So, are we cool?"


My penis walks into a bar and the bartender thinks "That's a very odd looking customer. It actually looks like a penis. However, I feel that I should not judge my customers by their appearances. If, however, he becomes intoxicated and unruly, I will be forced to ask this penis to leave."
And he says "Hey there, what are you drinking?"

I really kind of like the first one. With minor tweaks it could be good. If it still had the original set-up(or maybe if Dracula was in it; he's funny) and the punchline was shorter, maybe. Like if Dracula says "I fucked your wife". That's funny. Once it gets stretched to "When you were in Kansas last February for that Dental Hygienists' conference, Linda and I started sleeping together. It's been going on for almost a year. Your son knows. Sorry, I just thought you should know."the comedy kind of dies.

And I like the idea of someone telling this sad story as a joke, but it just can't work in real life as a joke you actually tell someone. I've even told jokes like this to people that appreciate absurd, abstract, dense, or pointless humor. No laugh. As mentioned earlier, I don't find these jokes funny either. These might seem kind of funny to you right now, but seriously, try telling one as a joke.

Once I realize un-funny jokes are back I can usually keep them to myself. After that first time of bombing for like a week straight I still have un-funny jokes occur to me, but they stay in.

Q: What did Abraham Lincoln eat for dinner before he went to Ford's Theatre?
A: I'm not sure, but it was probably pretty good, considering he was the President.

Maybe the problem lies in calling these "jokes".


  1. Let's go get drunk and you can tell me all the un-funny jokes you want. Depending on the amount of liquor involved....I might.even laugh.

  2. I think it's fun that I got corrected on a punchline that's supposed to be an non sequitur. I really thought I was grabbing the word lighthouse out of thin air, but it's totally possible I was half-remembering a old punchline. What was the set-up for "Lightbulb" Kevin?