Being funny is one thing, writing jokes is completely another. I can do the former. I can’t do the latter to save my life. For example, the name of this post could maybe possibly be a punchline, but I’ll be damned if i can think of a setup.
The vast majority of the time, jokes are something that happen organically, opportunistically, during a conversation. Here are the only three jokes I have ever made up then tried to write down/remember. They’re pretty awful, and as a twist of the blade they mostly work as spoken, rather than written puns, so you’ll have to say them out loud. Sorry.
Superman is the greatest superhero of all time. He’s got the greatest powers, the greatest costume, the greatest secret identity, the greatest girlfriend, the greatest muscles, the greatest hairstyle, the greatest everything.
With that said, what is his favourite Christmas slash bank holiday WWII movie?
*pause for dramatic effect*
The Great Escape.
Take your time.
What do you get when you grind salt and pepper over the side of a boat that is sailing from England to America?
I know. I know, okay? Say it again. Say it a few times. Blur the words together. A bit more. Do… do you see? It’s…
Why is it so hard to find antidepressants in the Arctic?
Because the bi-polar bears ate ’em all.
Despite all that evidence to the contrary, I can be funny with my friends, and sometimes even strangers. It’s something I put effort and thought into, because the reward is worth the risk. Getting a laugh is a giddying high. I even came up with a hierarchy. From ‘very satisfying’ to ‘really very satisfying indeed’, it runs as follows. Getting a laugh from…
- A stranger
- A random attractive girl
- A random person who is, themselves, very funny
- A friend
- An attractive female friend
- A funny friend
- A funny friend who is also an attractive girl
Quite often a joke will fall flat, but that’s okay. Just keep steaming along and maybe the next one will hit. Sometimes I’ll crack a joke that feels, to me, like a winner. Structurally, it’s sound. Thematically, it’s appropriate. And yet… nothing. Polite nods, or just grimaces. When that happens I outwardly let it go, but inwardly mutter “Screw you. It was funny, and you were wrong to not laugh.”
I am very jealous of those who can write jokes. I think a lot of them live on Twitter, and that’s part of the reason I stay away. Damn you, joke writers.